TIMED REPEATED READING

What is a Timed Repeated Reading?

Timed Repeated Reading calculates your child’s reading rate of a book or passage over multiple readings.  The units used are words per minute (wpm).

Why should I do Timed Repeated Reading?

Timed Repeated Reading keeps track of your child’s fluency training progress.  It is important for your records as a parent tutor.  Timed repeated reading progress can be presented on a child-friendly chart.  It is motivating for your child to see that she is growing as a reader.

How do I do a Timed Repeated Reading?

Before your child starts the Timed Repeated Reading, count the words in the book or passage.  Have a stopwatch and calculator on hand.  Use the stopwatch to count how many seconds it takes your child to read the book.  Tally the number of miscues or errors your child makes while reading.  Calculate the number of correctly read words by subtracting the number of miscues from the number of words in the book.

Number of words in the book – Number of Miscues = Number of correctly read words

To calculate your child’s reading rate, multiply the number of correctly read words in the book times 60 and divide by the number of seconds it took your child to read the book.

(Number of correctly read words x 60 seconds) / number of seconds it took your child to read = reading rate in words per minute

Example: Book has 81 words, child made 2 miscues, and it took 135 seconds to read.

(79 words x 60 seconds) / 135 seconds = 35 words per minute (wpm)

How do I record a Timed Repeated Reading?

Use the TIMED REPEATED READING CHART to record reading rate progress for a specific book.  Each time your child reads a book, calculate the reading rate and document it on the Timed Repeated Reading Chart.  The Chart has space for 6 different readings of the same book.  Over the six readings, the reading rate should increase.  You and your child will be able to see the improvement on the chart.

You can add more information, if you like, to the Timed Repeated Reading Chart I attached.  You can include the book’s reading level next to the space for the title.  You may want to record the dates of each reading of the book.  It is possible that the range of the reading rate, 10wpm – 80 wpm, should be modified to more appropriately fit your child’s reading rate.

Here is an  EXAMPLE TIMED REPEATED READING CHART.  The book’s title is Nature Hike.  The book was read 6 times.  The reading rates for the six readings are, in order: 28 wpm, 31 wpm, 32 wpm, 38 wpm 36 wpm and 45 wpm.  The general trend is that the reading rate increased over the six readings.  You can see that the child’s reading rate was a bit slower on the fifth reading.  It is to be expected that the child will occasionally read more slowly than on a previous reading.

FLUENCY TRAINING

Fluency training is an EXTREMELY important part of the twice-weekly tutoring plan.

What is fluency training?

Reading fluency is developed with practice.  When a child is learning to read, it is important for him to reread easy books.  With each reading, he will become more familiar with the text and will be able to read more accurately and smoothly and with increased speed and better expression.

Why is fluency training important?

Fluency training builds confidence in the young reader.  He is able to hear himself read like proficient readers do.

What materials should I use for fluency training?

Use books/texts at your child’s independent reading level.  If you do not know your child’s independent reading level, read the post, How Can I Figure Out My Child’s Reading Level?

You may also use books at your child’s instructional reading level that he has already read.  Over multiple readings, the text will become increasingly familiar and your child will be able to read it with greater accuracy, ideally with a 98% accuracy rate or better.  (The link in previous paragraph to the post, How Can I Figure Out My Child’s Reading Level?, will also explain how to determine your child’s instructional reading level and his reading accuracy rate.)

Poetry can be incorporated into fluency training since its rhythm, rhyme and humor encourage children to read smoothly and with good phrasing and expression.  A few poetry compilations that I recommend are Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry by Jane Yolen, Andrew Fusek Peters and Polly Dunbar, Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Pretlusky and Marc Brown and Shout! Little Poems that Roar by Brod Bagert and Sachiko Yoshikawa.  I find that humorous and rhyming poems are easiest to read.  Poems with tongue-twisters, nonsense words and multi-syllabic words are difficult and frustrating for the young reader.

Your child should read books/texts between 4 and 6 times during the fluency training part of the lesson (spread out over many lessons) before retiring the book.

Have many books and poems on hand so that your child has some choice about the books he will read during fluency training.  He should read between 2 and 4 books during this part of the lesson.

As part of your documentation process and a fun visual for your child, keep track of how many times your child has read a specific book or poem.  Use stickers or stars to fill in the FLUENCY TRAINING BOOK TALLY CHART.

At what point during the lesson should I do fluency training?

Start every tutoring lesson with fluency training.  It is a confidence-boosting warm-up.

Reading 2 to 4 books or poems will take between 10 and 15 minutes.

What support should I provide during fluency training?

You should not have to provide much support during fluency training since the books your child is reading are easy for him.  He should consistently be reading with between 95% and 100% accuracy.  The accuracy should increase over the multiple readings.

If your child does not know a word and hesitates or makes an error, withhold support initially and see if he self-corrects.  If he asks for help, I recommend telling him the word.  Fluency training is not the instructional portion of the lesson, during which word attack strategies are taught.  Plus, by supplying the word, it is possible that the reading will remain smooth and relatively uninterrupted.

After the book is finished, if you would like to address a misread word, do it.  For an emergent reader, who mostly uses context and at best initial letters to figure out a word, try cuing in the following manner:

Original text: I can run.  Dog can run.  I can jump.  Dog can jump.  I can swim.  Dog can swim.

Read as: I can run.  Dog can run.  I can fly .  Dog can fly.  I can swim.  Dog can swim.

Parent cuing: (Open to page: I can jump.  Dog can jump.)  Please read this page again.

Child: I can flyDog can fly.

Parent: Look at this word (pointing to fly).  You read this word as fly, but look at the first letter in this word.  What is it?

Child: j

Parent: What sound does j make?

Child: /j/

Parent: That’s right!  Look at the picture.  What could the girl be doing that begins with the sound /j/?

Child: Jumping!

Parent: Great!  Now reread the page using the word that starts with a /j/, jump.

Child: I can jump.  Dog can jump.

For an explanation of the different stages of literacy development, including the emergent reader, read my post, Developmental Stages of Literacy.

If your child reads with less than 95% accuracy during fluency training, he is making too many miscues, or errors.  Pick an easier book.

It may seem that your emergent reader is simply memorizing the text and that he would not know the words from the book in isolation.  That is okay.  This is all part of the process of learning to read.  A child needs multiple exposures to a word before he truly learns it.  Rereading books 4 to 6 times will provide this level of exposure.

Further documentation during fluency training

Learn how to calculate your child’s reading rate (the speed at which he reads) during Timed Repeated Reading.  This documentation is not as important for the emergent reader because he reads so slowly, but I highly recommend using timed repeated reading and keeping tracking of your child’s reading rate when his reading skills improve and he can be classified as a beginning reader.  Consider using the TIMED REPEATED READING CHART once your child is reading books leveled F or higher.  There is no harm if you are interested in starting to calculate reading rate during timed repeated reading sooner.

GET A LIBRARY CARD!

Utilize a super, FREE resource and get your child a library card, ideally in his or her name.  Here are some reasons why it is beneficial:
library

Children utilizing the public library

  1. A never-ending supply of free books!  Hello!
  2. Often the children’s section of the library has a section specifically for early readers (K-2 readers).
  3. If you’re lucky, the children’s section will have leveled readers.
  4. Having his or her own library card is empowering.  You have a driver’s license, bank card, credit card, etc.  S/he has a library card!
  5. The library often offers exceptional, free literacy programs, such as toddler time, crafts and summer camp.
  6. The librarians can make excellent book suggestions for your child based on his or her interests and reading level.
  7. There are also a variety of versions of “books on tape” for children.  CDs and DVDs paired with books can motivate reluctant readers.
  8. The library often has a great play center filled with new, sometimes educational, toys.  The children’s section of the library is a perfect place for a play date.
  9. Some libraries have computers and iPads loaded with literacy software.
  10. Mom, Dad, Caregiver, you can sign out a book for personal reading to model good reading habits.
  11. Libraries often have excellent parenting resources on a range of topics from integrating literacy into the home to nutrition to learning disabilities.
  12. If you visit the library regularly, there is no need to own a ton of books.  This is especially important if you are looking to save money, live in a small space or dislike clutter.
  13. As a public resource, some library funding is dependent on how much the library gets used.  The more that the library can document that its services are used by the community, the greater the funding.
  14. Libraries have computers with Internet available for public use.  Your child can complete his or her research projects and/or homework there.
  15. The library often has study rooms, which can be reserved.  The study rooms are appropriate for doing homework or meeting with a tutor.

What cool things am I overlooking?  Here’s a chance to brag about your local library. 

 

HOW CAN I FIGURE OUT MY CHILD’S READING LEVEL?

First … Why is it important to know my child’s reading level?

You want to know your child’s reading level because then you can make sure he has access to books that are a perfect fit!  When you match a child with appropriately-leveled reading books, his reading skills will improve.

reading level

Knowing your child’s reading level will help you to choose books he can read independently and books he can read with adult assistance.

Your child’s teacher should know your child’s reading level

ASK!  Depending on the leveling system that the school or classroom uses, the teacher may provide you with a grade number (K-12), letter or number.  Then use the Reading Level Correlation Chart to see how his reading level correlates to other leveling systems.  A lot of classroom teachers send home nightly readers/books at your child’s independent reading level.  Often teachers will supply students with a couple of books at their independent level to keep in their desk to read during free, or silent, reading time.

How to figure out your child’s reading level

Select at least three books that you believe your child can read easily.  By easily, I mean they can read 98% or more of the words in the book.  Find out the books’ reading levels by using Scholastic’s Book Wizard.  On the home page of Book Wizard, you can select which leveling system to use.  I like Guided Reading (A-Z) best.  I would use this system unless your child’s classroom teacher uses another leveling system.  In that case, align the system you use at home with the school’s.  If Book Wizard does not have a level for the book you entered, keep entering in new titles until you find ones that have a reading level.  Hopefully, the three books you selected have similar reading levels.  They should.  By similar, I mean they should only differ by one letter (Guided Reading) or one letter (DRA) in the leveling system.  If there’s a discrepancy between the reading levels of the books, enter a few more books’ titles until you can find a consistent reading level among the books.

Steps to find your child’s reading level

1.  Count the words in the book, if your child is reading at a K-1 grade level.  If reading at a second grade level or higher, select a passage, roughly 100 words, in the book for your child to read.

2.  If possible (I know it is time-consuming), photocopy or copy by hand the book or passage.

3.  Have your child read the passage orally.  Children reading at a third grade level or below typically perform best reading orally.

4.  Your child has the original book in front of him, and you keep the copy in front of you.  Have a pencil ready.

5.  As your child reads aloud, cross out any words that he misreads or skips.  Do not give hints.  If your child looks to you for help, you can say, “Try again.”  If he does not know the word and refuses to continue, you can tell him the word, but cross it out and consider it misread.  If you cannot cross out the miscues because you did not copy the book, tally the miscues.

6.  If your child self-corrects, which means correctly reads the word after misreading it, do not cross it out.  Additionally, sometimes children will realize that they are off track and that what they are reading does not make sense and will reread an entire sentence.  If the second reading includes self-corrections, do not cross out those words.

7.  When your child finishes the book or passage, total up the miscues (crossed out words).

8.  Use the following formula to calculate your child’s reading accuracy rate:

(Total words – miscues) / Total words = Reading accuracy rate (round upward to whole number)

Example:  Book has 79 words, and the child makes 5 miscues. 

(79-5)/79 = 74/79 = 94% accuracy rate

In other words, subtract the miscues from the total words and then divide that number by the total words to find the reading accuracy rate.

9.  On a subsequent day, or immediately afterward if your child does not appear fatigued or frustrated by the oral reading session, repeat the above 8 steps with the other two books you selected at the same reading level.

Using the reading accuracy rate to determine whether a given book is at your child’s INDEPENDENT, INSTRUCTIONAL or FRUSTRATION level

Your child’s reading accuracy rate determines whether a book is at your child’s independent, instructional or frustration level for word identification in context.  This only checks how well your child can read the words in the text, not whether he comprehends what he is reading.

There are three levels that depict your child’s relationship with a given book.  At the independent level, the child can read without assistance.  At the instructional level, the child can read successfully with some teacher/parent instruction.  At the frustration level, the child makes so many mistakes (miscues) that understanding the book is impossible. 

Using the formula above, if your child’s reading accuracy level is at 98% or above, the book is at his independent level.

If your child’s reading accuracy level is between 90% and 97%, the book is at his instructional level.

If your child’s reading accuracy level is at 90% or below, the book is at his frustration level.

Your child’s independent and instructional reading levels will be different

Let’s say the first three books that you selected as “easy to read” were leveled as D in the Guided Reading leveling system.  You might find that he reads all three books you first selected with 98% accuracy or better.  Woohoo!!  You have found his independent reading level to be level D books.  But let’s consider a different scenario: Your child read the three books with accuracy rates ranging between 93% and 98%.  Okay, that suggests that D level books are more consistently at your child’s instructional level.  Go back on Scholastic Book Wizard and find some books that are at the C level.  Repeat the reading accuracy test and see if the easier books are at your child’s independent reading level.  After finding your child’s independent reading level, find your child’s instructional reading level by having him read slightly harder books that he can read with 90% to 97% reading accuracy.

When should my child read at his independent level and when should he read at his instructional level?

When your child is reading on his own, he should read at his independent level.  Reading at this level improves reading fluency, sight word knowledge and confidence.  When your child is reading with a teacher or parent, he should read at his instructional level because the adult can provide support and instruction that will allow the child to improve his reading skills.

Parents, did you use this method or a similar one to determine your child’s reading level?  What worked?  What didn’t?  Have you seen the meaningful purpose of your child reading independent and instructional leveled books?

 

 

PHONEMIC AWARENESS – THE MOST IMPORTANT PRE-READING SKILL

There is SO much research showing that having strong phonemic awareness skills predicts future reading success.  Want an analogy?  Phonemic awareness is the foundation of reading success.  Just like a house cannot be built on a weak foundation, a strong reader rarely develops without phonemic awareness.

What is phonemic awareness?

Phonemic awareness is the ability to analyze and manipulate individual sounds in words.  It is the ability to count the number of sounds; identify the beginning, middle and ending sounds; and segment, blend, add and delete sounds in words.  It is a more advanced sub-category of phonological awareness, which includes the skills of rhyming and syllabication.

phonemic awareness picture sort

A picture sort, examining the beginning sounds b, m, r and s. Notice there are no letters/words involved. This is an exceptional activity to develop phonemic awareness in pre-emergent and emergent readers.

The facts regarding phonemic awareness and reading success are cut and dry so it feels right to share them in list form.

1.  Development of phonemic awareness leads to improved reading ability.

2.  Poor readers at all ages are less phonemically aware than same-age good readers (Shaywitz, 1996).

3.  Children with poor phonemic awareness have trouble learning letter-sound relationships (aka alphabetic knowledge) and how to spell (Griffin, 1991; Juel, Griffith & Gough, 1986).

4.  Children who have poor phonemic awareness (and are consequently poor readers) in first grade typically remain poor readers in fourth grade (Juel, 1988).

5.  The more advanced forms of phonemic awareness (e.g. segmenting sounds) are more predictive of reading ability than simpler forms of phonological awareness, such as rhyming (Nation & Hulme, 1997).

6.  Instruction in reading is essential for the most advanced forms of phonemic awareness to develop.  In other words, knowing the letters and their sounds, make learning how to segment and blend sounds in words easier.

7.  In studies, phonemic awareness training in kindergarten and first-grade produces better readers and spellers, both at the completion the training period, as well as years down the road (Lungberg, Frost & Peterson, 1988).

8.  Phonemic awareness training with a component of discussion as to the importance of phonemic awareness and its application in reading is more effective than simply a “skill and drill” approach (Cunningham, 1990).

9.  Reading increases phonemic awareness, but reading is unlikely without a degree of phonemic awareness (Goswami & Bryant, 1990).  So the ideal instructional path is to develop some phonemic awareness, use it to develop reading skills, and then in turn develop even stronger phonemic awareness skills.

10.  When parents teach their children letters and their sounds (alphabetic knowledge), the children’s phonemic awareness improves (Crain-Thoreson & Dale, 1992).

Parents: For activity suggestions to develop phonemic awareness, check out my post, Activities to Build Phonemic Awareness.

Parents, what activities and strategies do you use at home to help your child develop phonemic awareness?  What has resulted in the most positive growth?  Please share your story.

References

Crain-Thoreson, C., & Dale, P. S.  (1992).  Do early talkers become early readers? Linguistic precocity, preschool language and emergent literacy.  Developmental Psychology, 28, 421-429.

Cunningham, A. E.  (1990).  Explicit versus implicit instruction in phonemic awareness.  Journal of Experimental Psychology50, 429-444.

Goswami, U., & Bryant, P. E.  (1990).  Phonological skills and learning to read.  Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Griffith, P. L.  (1991).  Phonemic awareness helps first graders invent spellings and third graders remember correct spellings.  Journal of Reading Behavior, 23, 215-233.

Juel, C.  (1988).  Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of 54 children from first through fourth grades.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 417-447.

Juel, C., Griffith, P. L., & Gough, P. B.  (1986).  Acquisition of literacy: A longitudinal study of children in first and second grade.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 78, 243-255.

Lundberg, I., Frost, J., & Peterson, O.  (1988).  Effects of an extensive program for stimulating phonological awareness in preschool children.  Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 263-284.

Nation, K., & Hulme, C.  (1997).  Phonemic segmentation, not onset-rime segmentation, predicts early reading and spelling skills.  Reading Research Quarterly, 32, 154-167.

Shaywitz, S. E.  (1996).  Dyslexia.  Scientific American, 275(5), 98-104.

 

 

 

WHAT ARE LEVELED READERS?

Children’s reading abilities advance most when they are reading appropriately leveled readers, or books.  Publishing houses that create literacy materials level their books according to the books’ difficulty level.  A book’s difficulty level is determined by a number of factors such as sentence length and complexity, word choice, vocabulary, content, repetition and predictability, length of the book, number of words/sentences on each page and complexity of content.

leveled readers

A variety of leveled readers, ranging in level from Kindergarten to second grade

One complicated thing about leveled readers is that different publishing companies use different systems.  Two of the most reputed leveling systems are Fountas-Pinnell and Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA).  The first system levels their books from A-Z; the second system levels their books from 1-44.

example of a leveled reader K

Publishing companies who produce literacy curriculum typically list the book’s level on the back cover of the book. This publishing company uses the Fountas-Pinnell leveling system. This book’s level is K, which is the equivalent of a second grade reading level.

A great tool to have on hand is the Reading Level Correlation Chart.  It shows how some of the best known leveling systems correlate to one another.

Another excellent resource is Scholastic’s Book Wizard.

  • You can type in a title of a book and find out its level.
  • You can type in a book’s title and find similarly leveled readers, or books.
  • You can search for titles at a specific reading level.

For a easy-to-understand guide to what different levels of leveled readers look like, check out Sachem, New York school district’s language arts department’s, Text Level Indicators page.  They use the Guided Reading (A-Z) leveling system.

Do you want to find out at what level your child is reading?

  • Ask your child’s teacher.
  • If your child brings home leveled readers, enter the title on Scholastic’s Book Wizard.
  • Find a book that your child reads easily, at his independent level, and enter the title on Scholastic’s Book Wizard.
  • Find a book that your child reads with minimum assistance, at his instructional level, and enter the title on Scholastic’s Book Wizard.  Compare the reading level of this book with the level of the easily read book.

To determine your child’s reading level with an easy-to-use home assessment, check out my post, “How Can I Figure Out My Child’s Reading Level?”  This link also defines independent and instructional reading levels.

DO PARENTS MADE GOOD TUTORS?

There is much debate on the topic of whether parents make good tutors.

Study #1

A study published by former Duke University researchers found that parents do not make good tutors for their middle school students for the following reasons:

1) the parents are unfamiliar with the academic content

2) the students want independence from their parents and are less open to academic support

Nancy Hill, a researcher in the study, said that because poor grades often serve as the impetus for parental tutoring there is a correlation between parental involvement and a decrease in academic achievement.  It makes you wonder had the parents provided tutoring before the poor grades emerged would there be a different effect.  Poor grades in middle school are often the result of a student’s poor reading skills.  What if the parent had provided reading tutoring in the early elementary grades when the student stood a much better chance of developing into a competent reader?

Study #2

A very small study conducted in 1979 looked at whether parents of first-grade students could affect positive reading growth in their children after nine weeks of tutoring.  Parents received three hours’ of training in tutoring techniques.  It is unclear what those techniques were.  The students who received tutoring from their parents made no significant growth in reading skills compared to the students in the control group.

Study #3

However, another researcher found parents of third-grade students were effective tutors of oral reading techniques.  Parents received six hours’ of training and materials for tutoring.  In a survey that was part of the study, parents stated that the school should help parents find ways to boost their children’s reading achievement.  My conclusion is that parents are more willing to tutor if support and training by qualified educators is available.

My Opinion

I argue that parents make good tutors when they start tutoring their children when they are in kindergarten through second grade.  Why?

1.  The child, if delayed in or struggling with literacy, is not that far behind grade level.

2.  Most early elementary children still have a positive attitude toward learning and school.

3.  The child is more open to receiving support from their parents (than at an older age).

4.  The child’s brain and learning pathways remain very pliable.  Consequently, it is easier to learn to read well (aka efficiently) when in the early elementary years.

Ultimately, for parents to make good tutors, they must be provided with appropriate materials and trained how to use them.  Additionally, they need to be able to receive feedback from a qualified educator.  The hardest challenge for parents wanting to tutor their children is knowing where to begin.  To really contribute to your child’s reading development, you need to find a reading specialist who can serve as your mentor.

Hill NE, Tyson DF. Parental involvement in middle school: A meta-analytic assessment of the strategies that promote achievement. Developmental Psychology. 2009;45:740–763.

Jacobowitz, SE.  Tutoring by Parents of Their Children in First Grade.  M.Ed Thesis at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. 1979.

MacDonald CA, Parents as tutors of their own children: Effects of reading strategies on third-grade students. January 1, 1994. Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. Paper AAI9434509.
http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations/AAI9434509