The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 61

Students need to practice daily in using reading fluency strategies in order to increase the probability that they will gain “automaticity in using” those strategies (Archer et al., 2003, p. 95).

Specific ways for teachers to encourage students to grow as fluent readers are to provide the types of tasks where students can practice and succeed. The deciding factor that “influences student outcomes” in class is “the level of student engagement”

(Alvermann, 2004, p. 179). Class activities should be participatory (Hinchman et al., 2003). Teachers should consider the cultural climate of the school and the outside lives of adolescent students because even struggling readers can engage in meaningful work when the teacher structures academic tasks so that adolescents can connect information to their worlds (Hinchman et al., 2003).

Students are more motivated to engage in the types of activities that involve repeated reading of a text, which increase fluency (Crawley & Merritt, 2004; Hudson et al., 2005; National Reading Panel, 2000), not because of increased fluency rates of reading but because of the performance aspect where they need to be fluent in recitation of the material in front of their peers and teachers (Rasinski, 2006). Teachers need to look for texts that allow for performance and oral interpretation in order to increase fluency and link to comprehension (Rasinski, 2006). “Making sure that students are comprehending and enjoying the texts they are reading is critical for students’ reading success” (Routman, 2003, p. 94).

Finally, teachers can impact students’ motivation to read by reading aloud to them. Even adolescent students who profess to not like reading enjoy hearing stories (Beers, 2003). “By reading aloud to adolescent students from meaningful, rich texts, we provide access to ideas, language, experiences, and content that they will not or may not be able to read on their own” (Elish-Piper & Tatum, 2006, p. 8). Reading aloud to students is “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading” (Anderson et al., 1985, p. 23). Teachers are in powerful positions to impact students’ success in reading and learning. Not only do teachers model appropriate rate and expression when they read to students, but “students need to hear fluent reading in order to become fluent readers” (Beers, 2003, p. 215). The most compelling reason teachers should read aloud to high school students is that they can show students how to read a text and in so doing help them understand the text (Beers, 2003).

Concluding Thoughts

Reading fluency is most typically addressed during the primary grade years. While there are many fluency strategies to address readers’ needs, it is somewhat challenging to find and adapt appropriate reading fluency strategies for adolescents and to implement those methods in a high school English content class due to constraints of time, the high school setting, curriculum demands, and the diversity of reading abilities at the high school level. Nevertheless, once teachers are aware that fluency can continue to be an issue for high school readers, agree that all persons are on a continuum of growth as readers, and have made commitments to address the reading needs of their students, there are several types of reading fluency strategies that adapt well to high school English classes.

Teachers can start with an instructional strategy of simply being informed and aware of the types of miscues students make, how those impact comprehension, rate, and prosody, and how to address these during independent reading time. When students engage in independent reading time, all levels of readers benefit (Routman, 2003). This practice provides the much needed time for the teacher to listen to individual students read aloud in order to assess fluency or any other reading issue. For those students who need attention to some aspect of reading difficulty such as fluency problems, the teacher can use this time for one-on-one interaction and intervention with those students.

Participatory performance activities are a delightful way for students to practice reading for fluency. Students have fun as they work collaboratively in groups determined by interest to prepare for a presentation of Readers’ Theatre script or Radio Reading performance. It is through repeated reading of the scripts that students increase reading fluency (Hudson et al., 2005; Worthy & Broaddus, 2002). Students provide feedback to each other as they determine how best to express text, and not only does that increase prosody, but most importantly they construct meaning through their interpretations of the text (Griffith & Rasinski, 2004). Due to the large amount of reading typically found in high school English classes, students may also be asked to read aloud in class. Teachers should allow plenty of time for practice and even assign reading the day before so that students are afforded fair opportunity to prepare for reading by practicing words and reviewing text structure before reading in front of their peers.

"Teachers need to look for texts that allow for performance and oral interpretation in order to increase fluency and link to comprehension (Rasinski, 2006)."