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Fluency and reading comprehension



Aaron is a serious and quiet little boy. He sits at the kitchen table with a book from school looking like he’s ready to go into battle. He hunches down over the page, pointing to each word so with such force that his index finger is white at the tip. It’s painful for his mom, Rona, to listen to him as he labors over each sound:

“Iiiiiaaaaaaaa, aaaa, aaaannnnssssssssuuu – I mean, ssssssssuuuuttttt. Tttt. Tttt.”

As he incorrectly reads the first sentence, “I am so tired,” his voice trails off in frustration, and he sounds indeed, like he is tired – tired of working so hard.

Rona says gently, “Just five more minutes, O.K.?”

Aaron’s shoulders slump as he turns the page and tackles the next set of words with the same intensity, and unfortunately, the same trouble. Rona comes over to try to help on the word bed.

“Sound it out, Aaron.”

“Bbbbbb, bbbb, bbbb, aaaa, aaaa. Bbbb, bbbb, aaaa, bbbb. Bant. Ban. Bbbb, aaaa….”

Rona doesn’t know how to help him, because it seems like he works so hard. She’s always believed that effort was what made the difference – and Aaron’s two older sisters could achieve anything they put their minds to – but reading just wasn’t coming for Aaron. In fact, Rona was pretty sure this was the same book he brought home yesterday. Why did it seem like every word was a new battle all over again? And what could she do to help him? What is Aaron struggling with?




Felicia is one of those kids that her teacher, Laura, can’t quite figure out. When Felicia is reading aloud, she usually manages to get almost all of the words right – often on her first attempt. However, she gets each word after a very long pause: Laura can see Felicia moving her lips as she tests out each and every word before she says it aloud.

Laura had all her students read the same text aloud to her one-on-one. The record of Felicia’s oral reading showed 95% accuracy – technically in the top third of the class – but it took Felicia three times longer than the lowest reader in the class to finish the story. “Once… upon… a… time… there… lived… a… giant… the… giant… was… tall… a… boy…”

Felicia’s reading sounded like the puttering of an old jalopy.

When Laura’s other students read, they read in phrases, or sentences, or whole stories. They read fast enough for a listener to follow the story line. But no matter what Felicia reads, she always reads word by word, and it’s always painfully slow.

Laura had never actually seen Felicia finish any book she’d started. Every day, her students read for 10 minutes independently before lunch. Every day, Felicia picks up a new book and reads the first few pages. When Laura calls the students to line up for lunch, Felicia immediately shuts her book and put it back on the shelf, while the other children either bring their books with them or leave their books open on their desks so they can pick up where they left off after lunch. The next day, it’s a different book, and just the first few pages again.

Laura’s not sure exactly what the problem is, and she doesn’t know what she can do to help Felicia. What is Felicia struggling with? How do you know? As a teacher how can you accommodate this student? Explain lesson plan ideas, strategies and methods in improving her area of weakness.



 Reading Comprehension

Read the book aloud with no problems, stopping to comment on a few of the pictures – “See, that’s exactly what kind of dog I want… I want a black dog, not white… This dog is tiny!”

Pleased with the choice of book, Jeff said, “So, do you think you could train a dog?”

Charlie looked at him quizzically and said, “What do you mean? I don’t have a dog, remember?”

Jeff smiled, “Oh, I know that! I meant, in the book, what did they say about training?”

Charlie turned back through the pages of the book – although every page described how to train dogs to obey a different command, he couldn’t seem to find what he was looking for. Finally, he turned back to the first page and reread the first sentence aloud, “Trainers know you can teach an old dog new tricks.”

Jeff thought maybe his question was too vague. Instead, he asked, “What did you learn about dog training from the book, Charlie?”

Charlie looked again at that first page, “Umm, training is for old dogs?”

Frustrated, Jeff wasn’t sure what to do next. He didn’t think the book was too hard for Charlie – because he read the whole thing with no problems – and he knew that the book interested him – Charlie even asked if he could bring it home to show his mom the pictures. Why, then, did he always have such trouble getting Charlie to talk about the books he read?  What is Charlie struggling with? How do you know?As a teacher how can you accommodate this student? Explain lesson plan ideas, strategies and methods in improving his area of weakness.





Last Updated on March 16, 2018

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