Fluency is the ability to read a text quickly, accurately , and with intonation. It is vital as without it children are unable to comprehend what they are reading – too much mental energy goes in to reading each word, sometimes still painstakingly sounding them out, for there to be much understanding.
After a lack of success last year in our KS2 Reading SAT I decided to investigate things further…QLA pointed out inference, as always, and a lack of answers beyond question 30. There were many reasons why some of the children couldn’t plough through the text – EAL, SEN, etc but for others it wasn’t clear. I decided the key was to measure fluency…
We tested the Year 5 pupils and found that the majority of them had fluency scores well below what would be needed to comfortably access the SATs test next year. This meant that we needed to ensure that fluency was developed daily in all year groups.
Already, in this relatively short space of time, children have increased in confidence, stamina and expression and can accurately read more words per minute. There are a few easy approaches that we that we use:
- Choral reading – The children read with the teacher who models expression. This can be used during English lessons, guided reading, story time or at anytime across the curriculum when texts are shared.
- Cloze reading – The teacher reads a text and misses out words which are then read aloud by the class. This approach is great for ensure children focus on the text. They need to follow it closely with ruler or finger so they can quickly read the missing word. A word of warning is that fluency can be ruined if too many words are left for the children to read – remember the key to success is fantastic modelling of fluency by the adult.
- Echo reading – The teacher reads a short section e.g. sentence, with lots of expression and the children repeat it. Sometimes it is necessary to break down more complex sentences into clauses or smaller sections so children can remember and repeat effectively with expression.
- Paired reading – In pairs pupils read to one another. It often works best when more able readers are paired with weaker readers and use elements of echo reading. Middle ability pupils often work well reading together.
- Reader’s Theatre – The children work in groups on a dramatic ‘radio’ reading of a text extract. This works brilliantly for class assemblies.
- Poetry recital – Pupils learn a poem by heart. They then perform these either in groups or alone. We learn a minimum of one per term. Again this is great for class assemblies.
We ensure a variety of these approaches are used daily. The children love them and engage much more positively with reading lessons.
These approaches work just as effectively with new to English, EAL or SEN pupils as they have opportunities to hear brilliant reading and can join in as they feel comfortable, without the fear of everyone listening to them alone.
It is vital that we build class story into our busy days as this is a fantastic opportunity for children to hear fluency modelled and where possible have copies of the books so children can follow as the teacher reads or even have a go at reading aloud themselves.
Audio books are a great way to expose your child to complex language, expressive reading, and amazing stories. Listening to audio books also gives them the valuable experience of using their own imaginations to visualize the people and to play their ‘mind movie’. It seemed to fall out of fashion to have ‘listening centres’ in classrooms, but the are hugely important – children can even record themselves reading aloud to be listened to by other class members.
A final point for thought….if a child struggles to read accurately and quickly then silent reading, DEAR (drop everything and read) or ERIC (everybody reading in class) will not help them to develop fluency. This does not mean don’t read silently in class, just consider why you are doing it….
Above is an extract from paper 2 of last year’s KS1 SAT….the ante was very much upped from previous years. This then leads to the question of how can we prepare children for this assessment process without switching them off reading, but allowing them to feel prepared so that nothing will come as a horrible surprise??
AND the Year 2 teachers have to bear in mind the other measures that they can be moderated against in the interim framework…here is what an ‘expected’ child can do in reading…
Quite a challenge it seems….
What can we use to support our teacher assessment for fluency, accuracy and understanding? There are lots of everyday processes that can be used without planning activities to simply tick boxes…
- Reading records books used in school – the expected colour of book banding would be gold, white or above. Check that the phonic phases match and therefore the books being read are appropriate.
- Home/school reading record books – some schools may use Phonics Bug, Lexia or other online reading acivities which can be used at home and often produce reports on what has been read etc.
- Running records – 90% accuracy per page is needed for children to be able to comprehend the text. Here is an interesting article explaining how you can use any book as a running record: http://scholastic.ca/education/movingupwithliteracyplace/pdfs/grade4/runningrecords.pdf
- Standardised reading test – SWRT /Salford which will give a reading age, but will also highlight the words that they are struggling with
- Guided reading book or reading journal – this will evidence understanding of a text
- English book – as above this will show what an individual has understood from texts used as a class
To build up stamina and fluency individual reading needs to happen as often as possible, but the use of ERIC (everyone reading in class) can help children focus on a text independently as they will need to do in the test. I generally do this twice a week from January onwards.
I often use text extracts from http://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk to get children used to reading an ‘unseen’ piece of writing, which also has age range recommendations with each extract so I can ensure that it is suitably challenging.
It is vital that the children have experience of answering questions by writing answers. I like to build in examples from each content domain throughout the year. I found some brilliantly useful question stems on this website http://primaryenglished.co.uk/ which I have used firstly with illustrations and films, building up to using mainly text extracts…
I use these during guided reading sessions, adding different question types as we get nearer to May.
Useful websites and links:
I think reading is really difficult to assess and I have been doing it for years! I decided to put together a quick guide to help out other teachers who are struggling to get to grips with making a judgement for reading. I don’t think anything is new or particularly revolutionary….just useful (I hope!). I have tried to consider a few ways in which you can demonstrate progress too.
I also want to draw your attention to the work of MrsPteach and her brilliant blogs on reading. She has created lots of lovely resources too for using R. I. C. (Retrieve, Interpret, Choice) to help focus teaching on particular question types…
Here is my list…
- Look at the level/ stage of the reading book they can comfortably read (90% accuracy – a running record can be used to check this). Use the reading scheme guide (often a poster) which explains the reading age of each level.
- What is their phonic level (if they are not beyond phase 5)? Does their reading book reflect their phonic level?
- The Salford reading test will give a reading age and is therefore really useful to evidence the impact of interventions. It does not measure understanding. Again, check that their reading book reflects their reading age!
- YARC comprehension and reading test will give you specific feedback on areas of weakness and on-line will produce a useful report. The initial YARC phonic assessment can be used to ascertain if they can access the test and will give you a clear picture of phonic gaps.
- GL assessment will give an age related standardised score – this assesses comprehension. This may not be directly comparable with the newest SAT tests (2016) in Y1 and Y6, but is still a useful tool to target those who are struggling at the beginning of the year and may be used to evidence progress if repeated at the end of the year.
- Reading exemplification (for the interim framework) on YouTube, produced by the government, is useful for moderation of teacher assessment and assessment for learning approaches that can be useful in the classroom.
- Learning and Progression Steps (Lancashire County Council) break down statements from the National Curriculum to show smaller steps of progression throughout the year. This can inform planning, help in making age related teacher assessment judgements and, if the grids are filled in, show evidence of progress over the year.
Assessment for Learning – useful reading assessment activities in the classroom.
- Orally re-tell using a text map
- Wanted posters
- Acting out with small world play
- Hot seating
- Freeze framing
- Role play
- Retelling in story board / comic book frames
- Write a letter to or from a character
- Use information books to research a famous person
- What does the character – ‘think’, ‘feel’, ‘say’?
- What can you sense in a setting? What can a character see, hear, smell, and feel?
- Choose a sentence from your book that you like, tell someone or write down why you chose it.
- Write a character description
- Summarise a chapter or the plot
- Thought bubbles
- Sequencing and sorting jumbled pictures, lines, sentences or paragraphs from a text
- Text marking with a focus e.g. the impact of punctuation or cohesive devices.
- Collaborative group discussions
- Suggesting alternative words, phrases or sentences
- Book reviews (can shadow on-line book awards and join Leeds Book Awards)
Useful question stems for inference, deduction and interpreting events / ideas.
- What does this tell you about what….was thinking?
- What words give you that impression?
- Can you explain why?
- What makes you think that?
- Do you agree with this opinion?
- Predict what you think might happen next.
- Who would you most like to meet from the story?
- If it were you what would you be thinking?
- Would you want to visit this place? Why?
- How did……change through the story?
- Which is your favourite part? Why?
- If your book had a sequel how do you think it would end?
- Did the book end the way you thought it would? What clues did the author give you that made you predict the ending?
- What do you think is the author’s main message? Why do you think that?
- What character did you interpret as ‘bad’? What did the author do to give you that impression?
- What are the two emotions that….has felt. Why do you think….felt that way?