Connecting Reading Fluency and Oral Language for Student Success The more we learn about the relationships between written and oral language, the more obvious it becomes that speech-language pathologists can increase the impact of their services by providing intervention that supports skill development in both domains. Facilitating reading fluency has the potential to provide substantial benefit in skill areas ... Features
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Features  |   April 01, 2009
Connecting Reading Fluency and Oral Language for Student Success
Author Notes
  • Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a professor of speech-language pathology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and was a school-based SLP for 16 years. Robertson works to bridge the gap between researchers and clinicians by translating empirical evidence into practical intervention strategies. Contact her at srobert@iup.edu.
    Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a professor of speech-language pathology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and was a school-based SLP for 16 years. Robertson works to bridge the gap between researchers and clinicians by translating empirical evidence into practical intervention strategies. Contact her at srobert@iup.edu.×
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Features
Features   |   April 01, 2009
Connecting Reading Fluency and Oral Language for Student Success
The ASHA Leader, April 2009, Vol. 14, 11. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR2.14052009.11
The ASHA Leader, April 2009, Vol. 14, 11. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR2.14052009.11
The more we learn about the relationships between written and oral language, the more obvious it becomes that speech-language pathologists can increase the impact of their services by providing intervention that supports skill development in both domains. Facilitating reading fluency has the potential to provide substantial benefit in skill areas related to comprehension, pragmatics, vocabulary, and overall academic success (e.g., Chard, Vaughn, & Tyler, 2002). Clinicians interested in expanding their clinical repertoire with empirically based, easy-to-implement strategies may wish to consider tasks that support the development of smooth, accurate, and prosodic oral reading. Fortunately, reading fluency can easily be targeted concurrently with other goals related to oral and written communication and can be linked to the core classroom curriculum without a great deal of extra effort. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Repeated Oral Reading
As discussed in the accompanying article, repeated oral reading is a well-documented method of increasing reading fluency (Kuhn & Stahl, 2000; Meyer & Felton, 1999; National Reading Panel, 2000). Using text that is part of the child’s classroom curriculum for repeated oral reading is a relatively effortless way to connect clinical intervention to the classroom setting. Multiple readings of a passage prior to its introduction in the classroom can facilitate better overall comprehension of the topic; this understanding may facilitate more active participation in the classroom. Making prior arrangements with the classroom teacher to introduce a specific passage that your student will be responsible for reading aloud in class is an ideal way to enhance skill development and bolster confidence.
Another way to implement repeated oral reading is through the use of progressive stories. By their very nature, progressive stories have repeated readings of the same material built into the text. The story begins with a sentence or two (“This is the house that Jack built”) with new information added on each new page (“This is the door on the house that Jack built”). The story becomes more and more complex as it unfolds, but the child reads only a little bit more “new” material on each new page. Typically, progressive stories also provide many natural opportunities to practice phrasing and expression—which also contribute to reading fluency—as the story builds and the child becomes more and more familiar with the text structure.
Model Fluent Reading
The accompanying article suggests that children need many opportunities to hear fluent reading to facilitate their own reading fluency (e.g., Blevins, 2001; Rasinski, 2003). Echo readingis an effective method of modeling and facilitating reading fluency, even for very young children. When using this strategy, the adult reads a short passage and then invites the child to “say what I say” or “copy me” (Robertson & Davig, 2002). In this way, the adult models fluent reading and then provides the child with an opportunity for immediate practice. Because echo reading does not require children to actually decode the words, they are free to concentrate on how fluent reading feels and sounds. The earlier children have the opportunity to practice reading fluency, the more apt they are to be fluent once they begin to decode words independently. Older children can also benefit by participating in echo reading; choose books that are appropriate for their age/developmental level and interests.
Sentence Stress
Use of inappropriate prosody by stressing the wrong word in a sentence can substantially change the meaning of a reading passage. For example, the placement of vocal stress in the sentence “They are riding horses” determines whether “riding” is a verb or an adjective. Practicing sentence stress in conjunction with intervention for articulation, language, fluency, or voice may be accomplished through a variety of exercises, such as the one outlined below.
  • The student reads (or models after you read) a sentence such as “I am walking to the store.”

    The student then re-reads the sentence in response to the following questions:

  • “Where are you walking?”

    (“I am walking to the store.”)

  • “Who is walking to the store?”

    (“I am walking to the store.”)

  • “How are you getting to the store?”

    (“I am walking to the store.”)

Note that this strategy has a built-in component of repeated oral readings. The student has a chance to read the sentence numerous times. As the sentence becomes more familiar, the student is able to devote more attention to the meanings expressed rather than merely to decoding the words.
Poetry, Songs, and Chants
Poetry can help readers develop a broad range of fluency skills and provide concentrated practice with rhythm, cadence, expression, and prosody. You can use poetry written by others or help children write their own poetic masterpieces. Similarly, songs and chants—particularly those that call for physical participation—are an excellent way to develop the rhythm and cadence of fluent reading. Poetry, songs, and chants can also be read in groups (choral reading) or pairs (duet reading). Acting out books and stories can provide additional opportunities to translate written language to fluent oral delivery.
References

Blevins, W. (2001). Building fluency: lessons and strategies for reading success. New York: Scholastic Professional Books.

Chard, D. J., Vaughn, S., & Tyler, B. J. (2002). A synthesis of research on effective interventions for building reading fluency with elementary students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35, 386–406.

Good, R. H., & Kamiski, R.A. (Eds.). (2002). Dynamic indicators of basic early literacy skills(6th ed.). Eugene, OR: Institute for the Development of Educational Achievement. Available at http://dibels.uoregon.edu/.

Griffith, L. W., & Rasinski, T. V. (2004). A focus on fluency: How one teacher incorporated fluency with her reading curriculum. The Reading Teacher, 58(2), 126–137.

Hasbrouck, J., & Tindal, G. A. (2006) Oral reading fluency norms: A valuable assessment tool for reading teachers. The Reading Teacher, 59(7), 636–644.

Kuhn, M. R., Schwanenflugel, P. J., Morris, R. D., Morrow, L. M., Woo, D. G., Meisinger, E. et al. (2006). Teaching children to become fluent and automatic readers. Journal of Literacy Research, 38(4), 357–387.

Kuhn, M. R., & Stahl, S. A. (2000). Fluency: A review of developmental and remedial practices. Ann Arbor, MI: Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement.

Martinez, M., Roser, N., & Strecker, S. (1999). “I never thought I could be a star”: A Readers Theatre ticket to reading fluency. The Reading Teacher, 52, 326–334.

Meyer, M. S. & Felton, R. H. (1999). Repeated reading to enhance fluency: Old approaches and new directions. Annals of Dyslexia, 49, 283–306.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction – Reports of the subgroups. (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, D.C: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Osborn, J., Lehr, F., & Hiebert, E. H. (2002). A focus on fluency: Research-based practices in early reading series. Honolulu, HI: Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL). Available at http://www.prel.org.

Pikulski, J. J., & Chard, D. J. (2005). Fluency: Bridge between decoding and reading comprehension. The Reading Teacher, 58(6), 510–519.

Rasinski, T. V. (2008). Teaching fluency artfully, p. 117–140. In R. Fink & S. J. Samuels (Eds.), Inspiring reading success: Interest and motivation in an age of High-Stakes Testing. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Rasinski, T. V., Reutzel, D. R., & Chard, D. J. (in press). Reading Fluency. In Afflerbach, P., Kamil, M.L., Moje, E., & P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research, Vol. IV. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Raskinski, T.V. (2003). The fluent reader: Oral reading strategies for building word recognition, fluency, and comprehension. NY: Scholastic, Inc.

Reutzel, D. R. (2006). Hey teacher, when you say fluency, what do you mean: Developing fluency and meta-fluency in elementary classrooms, pp. 62–85. In Timothy V. Rasinski, Camille Blachowicz, & Kristin Lems (Eds), Fluency Instruction: Research-Based Best Practices. New York: Guilford Press.

Reutzel, D. R., Jones, C. D., Fawson, P. C., & Smith, J. A. (In press, 2009). Scaffolded Silent Reading (ScSR): An Alternative to Guided Oral Repeated Reading that Works! The Reading Teacher, 62.

Robertson, S., & Davig, H. (2002). Read with me: Stress-free strategies for building language and literacy. Eau Claire, WI: Thinking Publications.

Samuels, S. J. (2007). The DIBELS tests: Is speed of barking at print what we mean by reading fluency? Reading Research Quarterly, 42(4), 563–565.

Stahl, S. A., & Heubach, K. (2006). Fluency-oriented reading instruction, p. 177–204. In K.A. D. Stahl & M. C. McKenna (Eds.), Reading Research at Work: Foundations of Effective Practice. New York: Guilford Press.

Zutell, J., & Rasinski, T. (1991). Training teachers to attend to their students’ oral reading fluency. Theory into Practice, 30(3), 211–217.

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April 2009
Volume 14, Issue 5