I’m continuing to look at ways to improve my students’ reading fluency using The Fluent Reader by Tim Rasinski. As with nearly everything in teaching students, fluency should be taught and practiced following a gradual release model. When we read aloud we are modeling fluent reading for our students- read more about using read alouds to improve students’ reading fluency. The scaffolding stage, or oral supported reading, gives developing or struggling readers supports from a more proficient reader. Oral supported reading has a well-established research base for students who struggle with word recognition and fluency. Supported reading is just as it sounds, supporting students as they read. Many of these ideas are ones you likely already implement in class, but there may be some new ideas you can easily implement as well. (Note: Affiliate links are used in this post.)
I use a few of these ideas in my classroom. One way I do this is by using poems that stay in my students’ binders throughout the year. My former partner teacher suggested this as she started implementing it after a PD with Dr. Rasinski. Basically, there are 50 poems from a variety of authors in my students’ daily binders. When we have 10-15 minutes, though I certainly can and should implement it more regularly, I direct students to a poem. I choral read it, then we echo read it, then I have students individually practice the poem. I then call on students to orally read it in the class. We often also use the poem to discuss poetry terms like stanzas, identify rhymes, and to identify specific phonics skills. I love having an easy, meaningful time filler at our finger tips, and a resource for students to read at all times.
Choral reading is where groups of children read the same text aloud. It is a great way to maximize the amount of time students are reading aloud since every students can be reading an entire piece aloud at the same time. One way to achieve this is by chorally reading a new poem each day, multiple times a day. During this time, struggling readers hear more fluent reading and are able to mimic what they hear. By later readings of the same text, students are more confident and are able to read with the same fluency of their peers. Typically in choral reading the entire groups reads one text completely and in unison, but there are other methods. These are some of my favorites that Rasinski suggests.
In refrain choral reading, one student or the teacher reads aloud most of the text and the whole group chimes in to read key segments chorally. The song read by the mother in Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is a great example. The songs Lulu sings in Lulu and the Brontosaurus, or Lulu Walks the Dogs are other good examples. You can often find others that are great because students often join in and begin reciting some of their favorites as you’re reading. When something is repeated throughout a text, it’s a great time to invite students to join in refrain reading.
With this method, the class is divided into groups with each group assigned a specific section of text. This is easy to implement with specific stanzas of poems, or with chunked historical texts (like the Emancipation Proclamation). This is also easy to implement with the You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series of books if you teach in the primary grades. I love these books for my partner reading bin that I’ve used when I’ve taught in first and second grades, but with so many versions, they’re great to bring folk tales, fairy tales, and antiphonal reading into your room.
Cumulative Choral Reading
In this version, an individual or small group begins reading one line or a section of a passage. Another individual or small group joins in and begins reading for the next line. The pattern continues until the end of the text, at which point the entire class should be reading. Rasinski suggests using the Preamble to the Constitution, where its power and inspiration come out with the whole class reading the end. Shell Education offers a variety of historical texts that are great for fluency activities. It’s easy to align these texts with your content area studies to bring content and reading instruction together. These Primary Source Fluency Activities are perfect for 4th grade through middle school as you integrate with social studies content.
Paired reading is a form of choral reading done by two readers, one more proficient than the other. Paired reading, especially for this purpose, is different from buddy reading. Because the intention is to have a more proficient reader who can assist the other reader, it’s usually made up of an adult or an older child working with another. Rasinski suggests that paired reading should be a daily activity in classrooms for at least six consecutive weeks, with each session lasting from 10 to 20 minutes. Students should choose the reading material, though the greatest gain will occur when the text is at the student’s instructional level. The text is read aloud by both at the same time, with the adult slowing to allow the student to match the pace. When the student is reading successfully, the adult should lower to give a lower level of support. Conversely, if a section of the text is too difficult, the adult should raise their voice a bit to help guide the student through. If the student makes a decoding error while reading, the adult should give the correct pronunciation while pointing at the word and ask the student to repeat it. Then, move on, as the intent of the time is to continue to focus on fluency and meaning. Rasinski offers a few different recording sheets for this time in The Fluent Reader.
Neurological Impress Method (NIM)
The Neurological Impress Method is a form of oral support reading very similar to paired reading. The student reads orally and simultaneously with a partner. The more proficient partner reads slightly faster and louder than the student to help guide the reading. Sessions should last approximately 15 minutes, and done daily for several weeks. I believe this is the method behind the Read Naturally program.
Recorded reading allows students to read with scaffolding by using recorded texts. This can be done, and has traditionally been done, with books on tape in the classroom. With increases in technology, books are becoming more and more readily available on tablets, iPads, and computers. Epic Books and Raz-Kids are two well known resources that can be used in the classroom pretty affordably. There are also numerous ways that teachers can record themselves reading a text aloud, by video or with just the vocal component.
Echo reading is just as the name implies: you read a sentence and students echo the same sentence. Again, this is can be easily implemented with poems that are being used in the classroom as well as historical and mentor texts from content areas. Echo reading is one of the strategies I use with the poems I keep in my daily binders so they’re ready to go whenever I may need them.
Buddy reading is when two students are paired together for reading. Each pair chooses the text they will read as well as the method they’ll read. Some pairs alternate pages, others alternate paragraphs, or they may even choose to choral or echo read. I have a buddy reading bin in my classroom and have used it as a mandatory center activity, and as a free choice “may do” activity depending on my current grade level, the time of year and my group of students. I’ve included You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You texts that are referenced above. I’ve also included poetry books that are written as “poems for two voices”. I also rotate a series of Reader’s Theater plays in my bin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher when I’m teaching the primary grades. You can see all of the ones she offers in her TpT store.