2004 Conference Proceedings

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Jerry Stemach
Start-to-Finish Publishing
26799 W Commerce Drive
Volo, IL 60073
Phone: 707-833-2134
Fax: 847-740-7326
Email: jstemach@bigplanet.com

Participants will:

Struggling readers distinguish themselves by their inability to read quickly enough to comprehend text and enjoy reading. Samuels (2002) writes, "The problem facing the beginning reader is that at any given moment there is a limited amount of processing space or attention available for decoding and comprehension, and each task by itself occupies a considerable amount of the limited processing space available. The dual tasks of decoding and comprehension require more attentional energy than is available." How can we free up processing space so students can attend to reading text fluently enough to comprehend what they are reading?

The National Reading Panel (2000) defines fluency as the ability to read text quickly, accurately and with expression. Achieving fluency happens through a balance of approaches: guided reading, word study, self-selected reading and writing-or the The Four-Blocks(r) Literacy Model. And for struggling students, it can happen more quickly by combining The Four-Blocks(r) Literacy Model with technology to provide scaffolded support.

Guiding students through text, as you would in a "reader's workshop," provides students a non-threatening environment to build skills and repeat read. Research has shown that repeated reading is an effective way to develop reading fluency. When the same passage is read repeatedly, the number of word recognition errors decreases and reading speed increases, as does oral reading expression. (Samuels, 2002). By adding the computer to this process, teachers give students a patient partner that acts as a model and support for reading text quickly, accurately and with expression IF the computer books include such supports as professional narration, single-word or -sentence support, vocabulary defined in context, single-word or -sentence highlighting and recording capabilities.

Accessible reading materials for self-selected reading create an environment for reading for enjoyment and purpose. Through self-selected reading, students build their volume of words read-increasing their abilities through reading itself. Stocking your library with electronic and print books makes an accessible library to meet the diverse needs in a classroom.

Struggling readers benefit from phoneme awareness training and systematic phonics instruction when they know why they are learning the letter-sound relationships and that they can apply these skills in their daily reading and writing. Giving students an opportunity to interact with connected text that is carefully written to include frequently occurring words, words with phonetic regularity, and researched Primer - 5th grade word lists provides students the chance to connect their skills with daily "real-life" reading and writing. By combining carefully written text with the capabilities of the computer, students now have an avenue to instantly get feedback for words they struggle with-promoting fluent


Fuchs, Fuchs and Maxwell (1988) found that students' fluency was more highly correlated with their scores on a standardized reading comprehension test than were oral and written retellings, question answering, or cloze tests. Shinn et al (1992) provide additional support for the use of fluency measures to monitor progress in reading. Computer books combined with The Four-Blocks(r) Literacy Model go hand-in-hand to provide a scaffolded approach to building fluency.


Fuchs, L., Fuchs, D., and Maxwell, L. (1988). The validity of informal measures of reading comprehension. Remedial and Special Education 9, 20-28.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (National Institute of Health Pub. No. 00-4749). Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Samuels, S. (2002). Reading fluency: Its development and assessment. In A. Farstrup & S. Samuels (Eds.) What research has to say about reading instruction (pp. 166-183). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Shinn, M., Good, R. Knutson, N., Tilly, W., and Collins, V. (1992). Curriculum-based measurement of oral reading fluency: A confirmatory analysis of its relation to reading. School Psychology Review 21: 459-79.

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