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How a Smooth Read Can Help Students With Comprehension

Have you heard about smooth reading? It’s the chance to look at a book or text as a whole before you start dissecting it or analyzing it. One of the best ways to do this is by reading the entire text or section out loud. 

Discover why smooth reading matters, how it impacts comprehension, and, of course, some practical activities to weave into your daily classroom routine.

The Symphony of Reading

Statistically, reading aloud to students has a huge impact on their development. We do this in earlier grades but tend to drop off as kids get older. Once they can read on their own, why should we read aloud?

But hearing text read out loud has other benefits, too. Beyond learning sounds and increasing vocabulary, it’s the chance to understand the story or passage’s bigger picture. It’s easier to see how things fit together and why they’re important to the passage. 

That way, when it’s time to answer questions or search for meaning, they’re familiar with the context. It’s like putting together a puzzle. It’s always easier if you have the completed picture to look at while comparing pieces. 

Why Does Smooth Reading Matter?

1. Building Fluency:

Smooth reading is the steady beat that propels the story forward. When students read smoothly, they develop fluency – the ability to read accurately, quickly, and with expression. Fluency lays the foundation for comprehension.

2. Enhancing Understanding:

Smooth reading creates a bridge between decoding words and understanding the meaning behind them. When students struggle with decoding or stumble over words, it's like hitting a sour note in the middle of a song. The flow is disrupted, and comprehension takes a hit. Smooth reading ensures the story unfolds seamlessly, allowing students to absorb the content.

3. Boosting Confidence:

When students read smoothly themselves, they feel a surge of confidence and a sense of accomplishment. This confidence spills over into their overall attitude toward reading, making it a more enjoyable and less daunting activity.

Activities to Cultivate Smooth Reading in Your Classroom

1. Reader's Theater:

Transform your classroom into a stage! Divide students into small groups and assign each group a short script. Encourage them to practice their lines, focusing on expression and fluency. As their classmates watch, they can see how the story comes together as a whole and how the context impacts different elements of the story. 

2. Buddy Reading:

Pair up students and have them take turns reading to each other. Then, they can answer questions or give comments about the text once they’ve heard it all the way through. This not only helps with fluency but also fosters a supportive learning environment.

3. Choral Reading:

Create a choral reading experience by having the entire class read a passage together. This activity promotes a sense of unity and rhythm. You can gradually shift to individual reading, allowing students to carry the smooth reading skills they've honed in the collective effort into their solo performances.

4. Expressive Read-Alouds:

Embrace the power of read-alouds. Choose engaging texts and model expressive reading to your students. Pause to discuss emotions, characters, and plot points. Encourage students to mimic your smooth reading style when they take turns reading aloud.

Incorporating Smooth Reading into Daily Instruction

1. Warm-Up Sessions:

Start your reading sessions with a quick warm-up. Choose a short passage or poem and have students read it aloud. This sets a positive tone for the rest of the reading activities.

3. Feedback Loops:

Establish a feedback loop in your classroom. Encourage students to provide constructive feedback to their peers during group activities. This enhances smooth reading skills and nurtures collaboration.

4. Individualized Goals:

Recognize that each student is on a unique reading journey. The end goal is for students to be able to give a story or passage a smooth read on their own. Set individualized goals for smooth reading based on each student's current abilities. Celebrate progress, no matter how small, and provide targeted support for improvement.

Embracing Smooth Reading for a Symphony of Understanding

There’s a reason why state reading comprehension testing encourages students to read through passages all the way before answering questions. By weaving activities and strategies that promote smooth reading into your daily routine, you're not just enhancing fluency – you're opening the door to comprehension, confidence, and a lifelong love of reading.

Written by Brooke Lektorich
Education World Contributor
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