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  • Writer's pictureMr D

Teaching Fluency in Whole Class Reading

How many times have we all said, “Read it with a little more expression,” to one of the children in class who is robotically decoding words with the same enthusiasm as a dripping tap? How many times have we all had to manage behaviour elsewhere in the classroom as one child stumbles and stutters over a complex paragraph and twenty-nine others patiently wait for the torture to end? I recently came across an incredibly interesting post by Herts For Learning: The key here is not only modelling fluency, intonation and expression in age-appropriate texts but allowing the children to hear themselves and self-correct. Prosody also needs to be studied carefully by all teachers and its important links to comprehension more fully understood. To find out more about prosody, read here: The Michaela Community School has also extensively advocated 'Fluency' in lessons as means to 'free up space in working memory to focus on comprehension' and allowing for opportunities to read aloud in every lesson. Because of this, I have moved away from only having individuals read aloud in class to a model where children all read aloud at the same time to partners or in smaller groups while I circulate the room and listen in.

I then wondered what the explicit teaching of fluency might look like in my whole class reading sessions, and took some of the ideas from H4L to try and condense into a 30 minute session. First, I decided to choose a whole class book (in this case ‘Wonder’ by RJ Palacio) and then set about using Monday’s lesson to focus on reading fluency. Here are the steps I chose: 1.) Teacher models reading the selected chapter(s) and explicitly asks children to listen in on expressive phrasing, punctuation and stresses on words. 2.) Children read the chapter(s) aloud to each other and the teacher circulates giving feedback supporting children to read with appropriate expression, self-correction and to read or re-read sentences with any punctuation which effects intonation. 3.) Focus on a small extract of the text and generate discussions about intonation and stresses at a word level (particularly useful for children who still struggle to decode unfamiliar words), sentence level (Why stress that word/phrase? How does it change the meaning? What works and doesn't work?) and for punctuation. Here, selected children could record their own version. 4.) Using what we know about characters and situation, children begin to play around with expression and intonation within the extract and try to change meaning by reading in a variety ways (sarcastically, annoyed, care-free etc.). This generates some really interesting conversations. 5.) Teacher models reading the extract after conversation, getting children to echo specific words, phrases or sentences. Children then re-read it, applying what they have learned. Recorded children could re-record and compare. 6.) Children then re-read the whole chapter in pairs (I often ask them to read alternate pages each) and the teacher re-circulates, giving feedback and allow children to share good examples of fluency. After this is done, children complete Tuesday’s lesson looking at vocabulary from the text, then retrieval questions on Wednesday and finally inferences from the chapter on the Thursday. On Friday, using the VIPERS idea from The Literacy Shed, children could complete a range of question types from the next chapter. Here is the link to the information about this:

This seems to be working successfully in raising the profile and expectations of reading ‘correctly’ in my class which often gets side-lined in UKS2 or used in one-to-one reading rather than in a whole class session. Plus, no marking on a Monday is a winner for everyone involved! I have created an 8-week pack of reading comprehensions using this strategy for the book Wonder. It focuses on a chapter every 50 pages or so which can be read at the end of the day in a daily story-time session. I think in a time when we are constantly firing skills-based questions at children in Ks2, we must take a step back and help them read fluently and remember that much of what they don’t understand may well be because they didn’t read it correctly in the first place.

Mr D

- To download the Wonder Reading Comprehensions CLICK HERE

TES Rating = 5 Stars

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