Gateshead Fluency Project
Gateshead Fluency Project
We want to instil a love of reading into all our children so they to want to read for themselves. To able the children to have this enjoyment, reading needs to be a pleasurable task where the children are able to understand and enjoy what they read. They also need to be able to reading fluently to enable them to access other parts of the curriculum with confidence.
At Parkhead, we run a fluency intervention in Years 2 and 3 to support those children who can decode accurately but do not yet read fluently or with expression. This is based on the outcomes of a successful project in which Miss Taylor and Mrs Leach worked as part of a team of teachers from Gateshead, and Paula Thompson the English advisor, to study how children’s reading fluency could be improved.
What is fluency?
Fluency is the ability to…
• read a text accurately and quickly
• recognise words rapidly/automatically
• group words quickly in ways that help them gain meaning from what they read
• read aloud with expression
• read with sufficient ease and accuracy to focus attention on the meaning and message of text
• read naturally as if they are speaking
Why is it important to teach and improve fluency?
Reading requires at least two activities:
1. word identification or decoding and
2. comprehension or the construction of the meaning of text.
Early/beginner readers cannot focus attention on both processes at the same time. They must put a large amount of effort into decoding words. By the time such a reader finishes a sentence, he or she may forget what the sentence was even about. Comprehension is blocked because the process of decoding takes so much time and effort that the short-term memory can’t grasp the fragmented input of information. By contrast, a fluent reader reads in smooth and continuous phrases and the brain can retain and comprehend what is read.
How the Project Works
A group of up to 6 children read daily with a teaching assistant or teacher for 15 minutes. They read a section of a ‘real’ book repeatedly over the week as well as high frequency word phrases. This repetition helps develop their fluency and confidence, as does the knowledge that they are reading ‘real’ books independently. At the end of the week they individually complete a timed reading task to try to see how fast, accurately and fluently they can read the text and then repeat this to try and beat their score.
An example of the weekly timetable is shown below.
Using the YARC assessment tool we have consistently seen a real impact from the completion of the 10 week intervention. In addition to improved, accuracy, reading rate and comprehension scores, the children consistently increase in reading confidence. They are keen to participate and it supports their perception of themselves as readers.