From Fountas & Pinnell’s Teaching for Comprehending & Fluency
In Levels A-C, our focus is on concepts of print and building stamina. In Levels D-I, we begin to focus on a “balanced diet” of texts and begin fluency monitoring – with all reading being done out loud. Once students hit Levels J/K/L (2nd Grade) they will naturally begin to shift towards silent reading…and this must be encouraged! That is not to say we will completely abandon oral reading; however, the focus of ensuring authentic reading experiences must take precedence (after all, most reading is done silently, except in the case of presentations).
According to Fountas & Pinnell, some reasons for this spontaneous change include: increased automaticity in processing; the realization of greater efficiency/speed when reading silently; and an increased ability to attend to text meaning. In short…it’s more fun! It is, however, recommended that students read aloud as part of fluency “spot check” routines, particularly when preparing to switch levels.
These “spot checks” will help us to monitor student reading behaviors, ensuring that they are reading fluently. This can be logged via a basic rubric (such as what is provided with many reading inventories) or as part of anecdotal recorders, including behaviors discussed in our previous posts (i.e. student notices/consumes phrases; student attends to punctuation/print characteristics, etc.). As we do this, we must be mindful of text features at each level, such as what is outlined below:
“Spot check” routines are effective as a formative assessment, but what about the elephant in the room – How am I supposed to monitor fluency when these behaviors can no longer be observed directly? After all, this is better aligned with the authentic reading experiences we seek to provide our students. As Fountas & Pinnell state, finding evidence of fluency in silent reading is difficult but not impossible.
It is here that we must now use fluency as a lens while developing our questioning routines. We must develop questions/tasks that require students to provide evidence, while observing how quickly they are able to locate it. In other words, we must design tasks that depend “partly on memory and partly on the ability to scan previously read text.” We can also provide opportunities to read aloud portions of dialog while asking students to infer what characters are communicating (directly or indirectly), how they have changed or what this reveals about them.
As we have said in weeks past, it is essential that we consistently promote self-monitoring skills through a variety of genres, text levels (even “easy” texts), and teacher supports. After all, “nothing increases a reader’s [proficiency] more than reading a great many texts!”