Academic journal article New England Reading Association Journal

Fluency in the Classroom from Read Aloud to Independent Reading: Assessment, Collaboration, Practice, and Performance

Academic journal article New England Reading Association Journal

Fluency in the Classroom from Read Aloud to Independent Reading: Assessment, Collaboration, Practice, and Performance

Article excerpt

Fluency in the Classroom From Read Aloud to Independent Reading: Assessment, Collaboration, Practice, and Performance

Educators and scholars often refer to the report of the National Reading Panel (2000) in talking about reading instruction. Yet, as Timothy Rasinski wrote in an edition of this journal in 2003, "The report...affirmed for many reading professionals what they already knew needs to be done to be successful in teaching reading" (2003, p. 1). The books reviewed here discuss research literature on fluency and its implications on reading achievement, present strategies for fluency instruction, provide rubrics, procedures, and materials to assess the fluency of individual readers over time, and, finally, share engaging experiences from classrooms.

Although the books share common features, they also have different emphases. Rasinski's book offers an historical perspective to oral reading as he presents strategies using an apprenticeship model with young readers, while Johns and Berglund includes extensive assessments and protocols. Ellery presents before, during, and after reading strategies for emergent, early, and transition readers, while Prescott-Griffin and Witherell emphasize the collaborative nature of strategies that promote fluency.

All the authors reinforce the importance of teachers selecting texts and designing instructional sequences that serve the needs of individual students. The books support professional development as much as they provide practical resources for teachers. As much as the books are different from one another, one of their common features concerns the discussion of home-school connections where parents are involved in the literacy development of their children.

Rasinski, Timothy V. (2003).

The Fluent Reader: Oral Reading Strategies for Building Word Recognition, Fluency, and Comprehension.

New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0-439-33208-7

In his elegantly presented book, Rasinski argues that oral reading "deserves a legitimate, primary place in the reading curriculum at every grade level and for students at all levels of achievement" (pp. 7-8). Yet, fluency practice, involving pace, accuracy, phrasing, and expression, has emerged from multiple and conflicting perspectives as a critical component of reading comprehension and instruction. The focus on perspectives is one of the distinctive features of the book.

In the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries oral reading was the premier form of instruction. Rasinski quotes McGuffey from 1879. "Daily articulations and emphasis should be given with every lesson...Constant drill on good exercises, with frequent exhibitions of the correct method from the teacher, will be found more effectual than any form prescribed in type" (p. 9). By the end of the nineteenth century oral reading became an object of criticism. Rasinski quotes Francis Parker who wrote in 1884, "...reading itself is not expression... Reading is a mental process" (p. 13). Yet, in the context of opposing views silent reading has grown to be a primary goal in reading, defended in schools as early as the 1920's.

Another distinctive feature of the book is its organization. He explains daily practices that reflect a progression of guided participation from most highly supported read aloud sessions, to less supported reading, where "the more proficient reader provides and gradually releases support as the student becomes increasingly independent" (p. 57), to least supported reading where students share repeated reading, perform in such activities as Readers Theater, and practice at home. Students become familiar with text, through read aloud sessions and support in shared reading, which he calls oral support reading, then practice repeated readings for performance, and finally, participate in combinations of activities. At each point in the progression Rasinski shares illustrative classroom experiences, shows procedures for modeling the reading process and for making reading transparent through thinking aloud. …

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