Factors That Influence Reading Fluency

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  • 0:04 What Is Fluency?
  • 0:59 Why Does Fluency Matter?
  • 1:46 Factors That Influence Fluency
  • 4:01 Fluency During Reading
  • 5:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
Many things go into making a good reader, from word recognition to fluency. How does fluency factor in? This lesson defines and outlines the components of a fluent reader and shows how fluency changes in different situations.

What Is Fluency?

Many different components come into play when children learn to read, as Ms. Brown, a third grade teacher, explains to parents at back-to-school night. Students begin with simple sound recognition, forge into the realm of letter-sound relationships and, finally, bridge these concepts together into word recognition. This process can take time; not all children develop at the same pace. A clear and solid understanding of all these skills is necessary for the building of good readers.

Ms. Brown goes on to tell parents that once children understand letters and sounds and how they work together, they begin to decode, or break apart the letter sounds in a word, or in other words, to read. Beginning readers often spend quite a bit of time and energy decoding words until they build up fluency. When we talk about reading fluency, we mean the ability to read text smoothly, accurately, with appropriate expression, and at a good pace.

Why Does Fluency Matter?

People read for many reasons; to be entertained or learn something, for example. Teachers who instruct children in reading practices are tasked with not only teaching children how to read or to decode words, but also how to understand and remember what they're reading. This is called comprehension, and it's central to a solid reading program like Ms. Brown's third grade.

Part of being a fluent reader involves comprehension; the two concepts are interwoven into one another. Reading at a choppy or uneven pace can affect a student's ability to remember and understand what's being read. In the same way, not understanding what is being read can impact the ability to read fluently. The parents want to know what sorts of things can impact fluency development. Let's take a look at a few.

Factors That Influence Fluency

Teachers and parents begin instructing fluency the minute they begin reading aloud to children. A student learns fluency practices through indirect instruction and direct instruction. Let's talk about these two concepts.

Any time a student is read to, an understanding of many reading behaviors is being planted within that student. When children hear adults or other children read out loud, they're learning important reading behaviors, like voice intonation, pacing, and one-to-one word correspondence. We'll get to these in a bit.

Teachers, like Ms. Brown, view opportunities to read aloud to students as a way to model appropriate reading skills. This type of teaching is a form of indirect instruction, and teachers should encourage adults and other children in the child's home to read aloud often. Additionally, any time a student reads, his or her fluency increases. Children should be given plenty of chances to read a variety of texts. These opportunities for frequent reading lay the groundwork for fluency.

Any time a teacher specifically teaches a student a concept, they are using direct instruction. Teachers who are building fluency skills focus on several aspects. The first aspect is the reading rate. The rate, or pace of words being read, is referred to as the reading rate. Young readers can often read too quickly or slowly, impacting that ever-important comprehension piece. Teaching readers the appropriate rate increases understanding.

Another skill is intonation. Have you ever listened to someone read out loud? That voice has a specific cadence, a tone, and fluctuation that make listening to the story interesting. Intonation is that reading voice. Readers need to be taught specific intonation behaviors, such as raising the voice tone at a question or pulling out an ending sound at an ellipse.

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