(BPT) - The pandemic has created a lot of challenges for students and achievement gaps continue to grow, especially among the most vulnerable learners. According to Amplify, students - especially those in grades K-1in Black and Hispanic populations - have experienced severe learning losses in the past two years. Furthermore, without support, a child that is a poor reader in first grade has a 90% chance of remaining a poor reader.
Reading fluency, the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and meaningful expression, remains an integral component of academic success and future outcomes. Encouraging students to read in their free time, while admirable, does not provide the necessary support for students struggling with reading fluency.
This week as we celebrate Read Across America Day it's a good time to learn how we can help create strong, confident readers. Below are three strategies that can help support students' reading fluency.
1. One-on-one reading
One of the best ways to increase children's reading fluency is to model reading in one-on-one settings. In a classroom, it may not always be possible to read with students individually, but tutors and family members can be enlisted to provide private reading opportunities.
Whether the tutors are parents, older elementary students or college students, having a dedicated person to sit down and read individually with a child can build the student's reading confidence. The reading tutor can model proficient reading fluency, recognize what skills the child needs support in advancing and make reading a fun, interactive experience.
2. Incorporate technology
Technology can be a powerful tool to engage students and encourage reading fluency. Teachers can use these tools to assess reading fluency of more students at once and frees up time to focus on the students' academic and emotional development.
In an effort to improve literacy, Microsoft Education has created two reading tools that work in tandem to help educators support students with reading fluency.
Reading Coach is a reading practice tool for students that automatically generates individualized exercises based upon each student's specific needs. It identifies words that the student struggled with and provides additional opportunities for practice and guidance on correct pronunciation. This tool engages students and encourages them to want to read more.
Reading Progress measures and identifies correct words per minute, accuracy rates and challenging words, providing teachers and students with insightful data and benchmarks for progress. The newest update will allow the program to auto-detect prosody, that is, the patterns of expression and intonation in a language. Prosody is key to reading fluency and is linked to helping students build a deeper understanding of the text.
3. Repeated readings
Having students read the same text multiple times in different settings is a great strategy to improve fluency. For example, students can read a poem together aloud as a class, read the same poem to themselves and read together in small groups or pairs.
By reading a passage multiple times, students become familiar with the text, fix errors, and increase text comprehension. Repeated reading encourages independence and confidence in young readers.
All students deserve equitable opportunities to develop strong literacy skills for success in and beyond the classroom, and teachers deserve more support in helping their students reach these goals. Using the tips and tools above can go a long way in creating confident readers and increasing reading fluency in and out of the classroom.
To learn more about tools to support teachers and students in reading fluency, visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/educators/literacy-solutions.