: Missing the Wood for the Trees: Tackling Reading Comprehension by Developing Fluency A 5 Step Delivery Model.


Missing the Wood for the Trees: Tackling Reading Comprehension by Developing Fluency

A 5 Step Delivery Model.

Shane Lavery, Assistant Principal and Year 6 Teacher at Lower Fields Primary Academy, reflects on the impact that teaching fluency explicitly has had on their pupils’ comprehension.

Reading. Something wasn’t working…

The children could decode. The children could read at an appropriate speed. They could identify what type of question was being asked – they even had effective methods to try and find an answer. So why were they unsuccessful?

Ultimately, we could not see the wood for the trees: lost amongst a myriad of different measures of reading success, the children did not comprehend what they had read.

But why?…

In her EEF blog Shining a Spotlight on Reading Fluency’ Sarah Green says

‘When pupils read fluently, their cognitive resources can be redirected from focusing on decoding onto comprehending the text. For this reason, fluency is sometimes described as a bridge from word recognition to comprehension.’

To overcome this, we created an approach to explicit fluency instruction, using the EEF Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2 Guidance Report’ to help us define Reading Fluency;

We employed a 5‑step approach within our reading delivery;

- Vocabulary Instruction
- Teacher Reads
- Text Marking
- We Read/​You Read
- Reflection

1 – Vocabulary instruction

Explicit vocabulary instruction is essential in developing pupils’ comprehension; enabling pupils to read with both fluency and meaning.

Several techniques support children in expanding their vocabulary including preloading, use of images, oral rehearsal in different contexts and studying the orthography, etymology and morphology of words. Repeated and structured reading opportunities help to build automaticity, so pupils internalise new vocabulary.

The following steps are informed by the Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2: Reader’s Theatre,

2 – Teacher reads
The teacher expertly models the reading of the text. Children have their own copy of the text from which to follow. This will be followed by echo reading or choral reading allowing the children to imitate the expert reading of the teacher.

3 – Text Marking

Text marking draws attention to what we intend to do with our reading, allowing children to consider their reading prosody.

Text marking

A conversation takes place led by the teacher:

Where are we going to raise our intonation?

Where are we going to stretch the text?

The key is Why?’. Children orally justify their responses, allowing them to showcase an understanding of what they have read.

Childs work

4 – We read/​You read
Now, using this model, the children read to a partner or with the class teacher. This can take several forms. Tennis reading can take place, during which the teacher reads one sentence and the children read the next. Paired reading is another option, as is repeated choral reading or echo reading.

Children then read the text individually, striving to meet the high standards set by the teacher’s model, and accounting for their text marking.

5 – Reflections

The teacher gauges impact by listening to select children read. Confident children may be willing to read aloud to the class. If so, we use the fluency rubric descriptors to celebrate and offer suggestions.

Fluency ruberic 2
Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2

Over time we created an environment in which children – even those who otherwise struggle to decode – felt comfortable contributing. Repeated reading acted as a safety net for them.

It’s been seventeen months since we began teaching fluency explicitly. The quality of discussion and reading in lessons has improved significantly. We’ve heard children passionately debate with their teacher as to whether a certain phrase should be read quickly or slowly. Their ability to justify their responses tells me that they are engaging with and comprehending the text.

After a recent lesson an observer said to me of one of the children,

That boy is some reader!”

That boy
engaged with every word of the text, vigorously defending his text marking decisions and passionately justifying every decision he made. That boy read the section with appropriate intonation and terrific phrasing.

That boy…
is also in daily phonics intervention, but because of this new approach, he understood Thomas Hardy’s Throwing a Tree’, and thanks to him, we are – hopefully – no longer missing the wood for the trees.

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