Thursday, September 19, 2013


Reading Fluency Practice Makes Perfect

Fluency Development Lesson
Both teachers and parents can use what is called the fluency development lesson to improve reading. These lessons focus on reading a story out loud until the story is read easily and with expression. The following is the process for a fluency development lesson.

1) First you and your child need to choose an interesting short story for reading practice. Choose a story that is not too easy or especially too difficult for your child to read. This story will be rehearsed and performed to develop smooth expressive reading. Since this story will be used frequently over a week, it is important to choose something that is interesting and motivating.

2) The first step is for you to read this story out loud to your child with appropriate expression. This means you will need to read the story to yourself several times until you feel confident about read the story correctly with good expression. 

3) Then your child looks at the story while you read the story out loud a second time.

4) The next day you and your child look at the story and review the difficult words and practice saying them. You can ptalk about what the story means.

5) Then you and your child read the story together like a little choir. Read the story together as many times as it takes so your child does not make a lot of hesitations while reading. This can be made extra fun by exaggerating the emotional parts of the text. Some stumbling over words at this point is still expected. This may take several days. 

6) Rereading is an important part of developing a smooth reading of the story. You and your child can now take turns reading the story to each other. Do this paired reading until your child is happy with how he is doing. Remember The process should be fun for each of you.

7) Your son or daughter can also practice reading on their own. They can read aloud to the family pet or to thier favorite stuffed toy.

8) Finally you can have a little theater where your child performs the story for the whole family. Perhaps your son or daughter can take the story to their school and perform for their class.

Through the use of the fluency lesson your child not only increases his fluency but will also increased his ability to read on his own. By participating in the fluency lesson your son or daughter will improve his or her word recognition, automatic word identification and comprehension of what is read. In other words fluency is not merely a goal in itself. But fluency helps to improve overall reading. With better fluency your child will become more confident in his own reading and also become more motivated to participate in more reading by himself.

In summary, here are some tips on fluency practice. 

First read the story to your child. Then have your child read the story to you. If there are difficult words simply tell your child what they are. Now is not the time for a big phonics lesson. Practice saying the difficult words several times. Then try out some of these ways of practicing. Remember fluent reading takes lots of practice.

Choral reading. In choral reading you and your child read the story together. Practice the story together a number of times until you hear your child speaking the text with a strong voice and with confidence.
Echo reading. With echo reading you and your child take turns reading a line or sentence of the story. 
Practice reading the same sentences until your child readers them confidently. Then change the sentences you and your child are reading.

Readers theater. Readers theater is making the story into a play. Usually a story has parts where the characters are speaking, the dialog. Other parts explain the action, the narrative. You can take turns first practicing the dialog or the narrative. Then later switching parts. Or you can read the dialog like a play. Once you have practiced, you can perform the play for your family and friends.

Reading to others. Your child can practice a story by reading it to others. Others can be a younger sibling, a friend and even the family pet. You might be surprised that your child really likes reading to the family dog. In schools there are programs in which students sign up to practice reading to dogs.
Read aloud often. Frequently read aloud to you child. The more you read to them the more they will want to volunteer to read to you. I frequently read to my stepdaughter. Soon she wanted to take turns. So we would read her middle school assignments together. When she was in high school she was one of the few students who would volunteer to read in class.

Sunday, September 01, 2013


A Book Can Change Your Life

The value of self selection in reading

I read a great article on the value of self choice when reading books. Unfortunately I'm not able to find that article. Now that I have my Nexus 7 tablet, I read do many articles. But the author makes the point that when children and adults self-select their books they frequently run into a book that will change their life. I remember reading a book that changed my life.

When I was a young man, I held rather traditional Christian views of life and eternity. But as I went to the university to be trained as a psychologist many of these views changed. There is a scientific hypothesis that thought is merely a by product by brain activity. This hypothesis is called reductionism.  As a trained psychologist I had decided that the reductionist hypothesis was the only reality for human existence. As far as I could tell there was no God, heaven or life after death. All we could only know was what we saw before us in our daily lives. This is what I was taught in my graduate training.

After I graduated with my PhD, I had a good friend who liked to read the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. I found these books way too difficult to read myself. So my friend recommended that I should read the American philosopher Norman Malcolm. Malcolm was a student of Wittgenstein. He wrote about a lot of Wittgenstein's ideas. I read Norman Malcolm's book Thought and Knowledge.
In this book Malcolm sets out Wittgenstein’s argument that thought is not equivalent to brain activity. Malcolm sets forth a very cogent argument that thought is independent of the brain. Malcolm argues that the reductionist argument is not philosophically sound. Reductionism is what in philosophy is called a circular argument. If you have a circular argument, it means your logic is not good and your argument is not sound. His presentation literally made me drop my book. I sit stunned with my mouth hanging open. This is what can happen when you read a book!

With surprise I thought to myself, if thought cannot be reduced to mere brain activity, then thought can be more than brain activity. Our thoughts were not dependent just on our brains. So thoughts could existed outside of our brains. If that was true then human consciousness did not depend on our body alone. This meant that I could entertain the hypothesis that consciousness (our thoughts) could exist outside of our brains. In other words as humans we have something that is called a soul. This soul can exist beyond the physical body, since thought is not dependent upon the human body. This then lead me on a life long journey of reading scientific research about human consciousness, the human spiritual experience and the possibilities of human existence beyond physical death. So as you see simply reading one book can set a person on a life long journey of learning and investigation. So I encourage you to read and to read to your children. I hope your reading will lead you to your life's journey. 

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