Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How to increase oral reading fluency and proficiency.

So, your child isn't quite where you'd like them to be in their reading ability? PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT certainly applies here. It's hard to keep on exercising everything once they've learned to read. It doesn't take long to get a little rusty in this area. After all, dinner needs made and those underwear need folded. Some kids don't seem to even need challanged, they seem to have their own inner competition with themselves!

This year I have mustered enough determination to make certain that my kids reach a more that satisfactory level of reading proficiency. And for those of you who might be looking for some ideas and help, I'd like to tell you about one thing that I am doing that is working! I'm very excited about it. Just know that it's gonna take some work, but it won't have to go on forever. Since January 4th I've seen a 44 correct words per minute improvement in one of my readers and 41 cwpm in another. It is now January 27th. I am very pleased.

First you need some reading material. You can pick this yourself from whatever you choose. I am using some exercises from Easy CBM because they have the words already counted out and they have several story pages for each grade. I also wanted an outside source to help me set the bar. I wrote about this easy to use site in an earlier post. I would suggest reading it and checking out that site. Much of my current thrust was born out of that site and what it offers. If your subjects haven't been reading out loud to you for a while, expect a low starting score even from a good reader. It'll be ok, you're on your way to their proficiency just by reading this post, right? When they sit down to read something they've never laid eyes on before this would be called a 'cold reading'. The Easy CBM site gives a chart for scores and how to interpret them but I found their average to be quite a bit higher than another I am using. Keep in mind that any measures or benchmarks like these are contrived by exercising and testing a particular group of kids in a particular school/or state. I didn't have to look very far to discover that they vary quite a lot. The benchmark chart I am using is from Primary Education Oasis. It's purpose seems to be more geared toward determining if the student is considered "at risk" or not. I'm happy with it and it can be found here: Again, it is much lower, so aim a little higher. The main thing is that you just want progress. I just like the format of this one and found it easier to use. It's bright and fun. I'm sure there are a million on the web, I didn't want to search all day. Find a few and compare, use them all at once if you want. I also enjoyed reading some information of Primary Education But, take any articles about eduction with a grain because the fads are a'plenty. You can find someone to agree/disagree with any method. It seems that contradiction can be found just a click away. I'm just here to share what I'm doing because it's getting results. So, let's move on.

I would call my exercise 'pilot reading'. This works much like good competition in a foot race can challenge a runner to actually run faster and beat his best performance. Two to five times a week you should sit down with the student and you read at a decent pace with a timer set for one minute while he or she follows along. You are the pace setter, just don't over due it! This will train them to pick up their usual pace. Today I read the same thing three times in a row. It had been a week and I wanted to be sure that they beat their last score. Always aim to beat the last score from the previous session, even if only by a couple of words. You don't want to read so fast that they get lost and feel like they can never attain to the goal. Just challange them. Work one on one if there is a big ability gap between kids. When I do the actual one minute test I do one student at a time. The pilot readings are as a group or separate, I've done both. Before I do a one minute timed reading with them I point out what their best previous cwpm was. I even put a light, but visible mark on the page. I make a suggestion at a goal, pushing them to make an improvement. Since we had let a week slip by I let each subject try twice and they were each able to beat their last best cwpm. I really see this working. I'm amazed and it propells me to just keep working with them until I am satisfied with where they are at. Once a goal is reached you could set these excercises aside until maybe later in the year. Hope this helps someone out there. A few short weeks ago, I searched this exact post title.

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