Designed Learning & Designing Learning

Fluency - theory to practice, with thanks to Tom Sherrington!

by Dr Gail Brown | December 6, 2021
Fluency - theory to practice, with thanks to Tom Sherrington!

I have the highest respect for Tom Sherrington, for his books and his continued posts! Tom is much more regular in his posts than I am - and I'd encourage teachers to check out his posts which are evidence-based and effective for many aspects of teaching and learning!

I’m sorry, that he’s halfway around the world, so with the pandemic still around – it’s impossible for me to meet with him in person??? Below is a post I’ve just added to his blog on Teacherhead – about five ways to build fluency!

Having worked on reading fluency for more than twenty years, in so many Australian schools, I am thrilled to read his post, justifying all that I’ve been doing. My support of fluency uses evidence-based research and adapts this to work in real classrooms – here’s my support for Tom’s post!

I agree with your post, and would add 3 evidence-based interventions that can support fluency, specifically in reading. I have worked with many schools here in Australia, to build reading fluency as a bridge to comprehension - through automaticity in decoding!

Firstly, check out Repeated Reading, as there is research over decades to support this - especially with the addition of daily graphing of words read correctly in one minute! So motivating for students to experience daily success and improve on themselves for a "daily personal best ever"!! The easiest way to implement this is to pair students at similar reading fluency levels, at the start of the intervention. And be clear that they are each supporting their partner to read. As well, make sure the text is at independent reading level for students, easy texts are simply great for low-stakes practice, along with reading to their partner.

Secondly, using Readers Theatre, with some explicit instruction in the aspects of fluency. This is relatively easy to implement with mixed ability and some professional teacher judgements for giving students different roles in a simple play. It also supports students to support each other as a team for their performance, and you can add an "audience feedback" loop. This needs some teacher explicit instruction for positive feedback, modelling how to improve rather be critical.

Lastly, Scaffolded Silent Reading alters some aspects of DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) or Silent Reading. Again, teachers ensure books or texts are at independent reading levels for all students, and teachers show interest by interviewing students regularly and asking questions about their reading. During these reading interviews, teachers also set goals for where the student might be up to in their book on the next interview. Some teachers even ask student to present book reviews to their class or other classes.

Hope this adds to your post, Tom? Thanks again for this post, as it is so supportive of these reading interventions that really do work well in schools! And thanks so much for ALL your posts on Teacherhead!

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