Decoding Accuracy and Fluency Instruction
(Guided and Repeated Oral Reading Practice)
from the Teacher’s Guide: Third Grade through Adult Edition
Reading rests upon a hierarchy of skill development. Students must become capable of reading words both accurately and fluently. Guided and Repeated Oral Reading Practice is a key instructional component of this reading program and consists of two distinct activities.
Students read the words in each lesson accurately. The teacher must carefully monitor each oral reading exercise to make sure students accurately read the words in the lesson. If a student misreads a word, the teacher should immediately intervene by telling the student to read the word again, and if necessary, the teacher should provide step-by-step instructions to the student in sounding out the word.
Lessons published in our program are presented in a carefully-sequenced order with words containing decodable text; lessons contain word lists, sentences, and short stories (PDF files). Here is what the research says about the importance of decodable text. We also publish an accompanying Supplemental Fluency Reader containing additional sentences and stories correlated to each lesson from the core book.
Students read the words in each lesson fluently. The ability to read words accurately is a necessary skill that must be mastered by all emerging readers and a skill whose acquisition is justifiably celebrated both by teacher and student alike. But reading words accurately is not enough; a student must also be able to read fluently. Fluency is an essential skill strand that has often been neglected in reading instruction; yet research overwhelmingly and consistently emphasizes the relationship between reading fluency and comprehension. All too often teachers conclude that once students are able to read with accuracy, they will be able to read fluently. Research, on the other hand, has established the fact that the transference between decoding accuracy and reading fluency is not automatic.
Fluency is a skill that can and must be taught, and students who receive fluency training experience marked improvement in their ability to read with accuracy, fluency, and understanding. Students who read and then repeatedly reread text while receiving guidance and feedback become better readers. Explicit instruction in fluency aids struggling readers of all ages from elementary grades through the middle school and high school grades and adults as well. Without the ability to recognize text automatically, the student’s primary focus while reading is on decoding words instead of comprehending the meaning that the flow of words on the page conveys. Fluency is the bridge that connects a student’s ability to decode words accurately with the ability of that student to read with understanding.
The best way to develop reading fluency is to provide guidance
and feedback to students as they read the same text repeatedly.
Guided and Repeated Oral Reading Practice consists of the following activities:
- The teacher models fluent reading for students. The teacher reads the words in the sentences and stories while students listen and silently follow along with the text in the book. Students echo the teacher as she reads the words in the sentences and stories. The teacher reads out loud one sentence or paragraph at a time repeating each sentence or paragraph twice. The students then read out loud that same sentence or paragraph.
- The teacher and students do choral or unison reading. The teacher along with the entire class reads together the sentences or stories.
- (Optional) Students are paired together as partners. Whenever possible, pair strong readers with less fluent partners. The stronger partner models fluent reading with a particular sentence or paragraph, and then the other partner reads the same sentence or paragraph. The stronger reader provides feedback and when necessary helps the other reader sound out and read the words correctly and with increasing fluency. It is also possible to have two readers of approximately equal skill levels partner together. These partner readers can practice rereading text after having received teacher-guided instruction with that same text.
Most students develop accuracy and fluency skills over time; acquiring these skills take practice and exposure to print. Students perform repeated readings of the words in each fluency lesson until they are able to read the words effortlessly and without conscious effort spent in decoding or sounding out the words. The fluency activities listed above can be adjusted to meet the individual needs of students. Some students require more repetition in oral reading than do others.
Practice Using Decodable or Controlled Text
Research shows that the single best instructional technique for developing reading fluency is to provide guided oral reading practice using decodable or controlled text. Decodable/Controlled text is text that is composed of words that primarily contain only those phonetic elements that have been previously introduced. Words containing phonic elements not yet taught in this program are not included in the lessons. As an example if the consonant team ch has not yet been introduced in the program, then no word in the text will contain the ch team until that consonant team is formally presented in the program. All of the sentences and stories in in our program have been carefully developed to include only those phonetic elements that have been taught up to the particular point currently reached in the program. Some common sight words are also used.