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6.3: Improving Fluency & Vocabulary

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    Fluency is indicated by being able to read from text precisely and with expression at a familiar pace (Pullen & Cash, 2011). Fluency is highly associated with reading comprehension, which is understandable considering that the ability to read words easily unburdens working memory which can then allow those cognitive processes to make sense of the text (Laberge & Samuels, 1974). The National Reading Panel (2000) describes two main methods for improving student fluency. The first, guided oral reading has the student read a passage orally a number of times to another person, this could be a teacher paraprofessional or student, and the student receives feedback. Pullen and Cash make a distinction between guided oral reading where a student would be more one-on-one and round robin reading where are each student in the class reads aloud from a short passage. The other strategy is independent silent reading, however it is unclear if this strategy is effective and the National Reading Panel suggested that the time used for independent silent reading would be better used on another strategy.


    While being able to decode words fluently is a strong predictor of overall reading achievement, if the student does not understand the words that they are decoding it is virtually impossible to expect that they would be able to make meaning from what they’re reading (Pullen & Cash, 2011). Thus, vocabulary instruction is a key component to helping students become more engaged with the text they are reading. According to the National Reading Panel (2000), increases in vocabulary instruction lead to increases in overall reading comprehension. Repetition, exposure in multiple contacts, and learning in situations that utilize diverse vocabulary all help students acquire vocabulary. While students may acquire most vocabulary through indirect means like listening to adults, through conversation and television, direct instruction is more useful for important or novel words.

    This page titled 6.3: Improving Fluency & Vocabulary is shared under a CC BY-ND license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Mickey Losinski (New Prairie Press/Kansas State University Libraries) .

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