According to Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read, a report developed by the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA) and funded by the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL), one of the ways in which students become fluent readers is by "listening to good models of fluent reading."
"Fluency is important," the report continues, "because it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension. Because fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding the words, they can focus their attention on what the text means.Less fluent readers, however, must focus their attention on figuring out the words, leaving them little attention for understanding the text.By reading [aloud] effortlessly and with expression, you are modeling for your students how a fluent reader sounds."
The following tips will help you model fluent reading, and improve your students' ability to understand written text.
Select the reading material. Be sure to include a variety of grade-appropriate reading material among your selections; include chapter books, picture books, expository text, poetry, news articles, essays, editorials, and so on.
Before you begin
Preview the reading selection. Be aware of words, concepts, or situations that might require discussion or explanation. Make note of any questions you might ask to increase students' understanding or enjoyment of the text.
Set the tone. Dim the lights and allow students a few minutes to settle down before you begin reading. Remind them of the rules for being good listeners. Encourage them to listen by setting a task: "Don't miss what the main character's mother has to say about her daughter's behavior!" or "Listen for the poet's description of the storm. See if his description helps you picture the storm in your mind."
During the read-aloud session
Display the reading selection. Read the title, and the names of the author(s) and illustrator(s). Talk about the illustrations and/or information on the cover. Take a "picture tour" of the selection, if appropriate. Ask students what they think the reading selection is about. If the reading is non-fiction, ask students to review what they already know about the topic. Encourage students to make predictions about the selection.
Read with expression. Use inflection and change your voice. Give different characters different voices. Read at a pace that is not too fast or too slow. Stop at appropriate intervals to allow students to look at the illustrations. Briefly react to the text as you read: "Wow! I wonder how the main character feels about that?" "What do you think will happen next?" Provide brief opportunities for students to respond to, or ask questions about, the text. Encourage students to write down questions they want to ask when the reading is completed.
After the reading
Ask open-ended questions about the selection. Discuss not just the facts or events you read about, but also the characters, images, meaning, inferences, and so on. Ask students to complete such sentences as: "I noticed," "I pictured," "I liked (or didn't like)," and "I wonder."
Invite students to react to the selection in writing. Younger students might illustrate their reactions instead.
Most of all
Have fun. Share your love of reading with your students.