Read Naturally – We Did It!

I’m so proud of my son!  Earlier this year I wrote a post about his struggles in reading.

He is an accurate reader, but lacks confidence and speed.  He has struggled with fluency since first grade.  As a teacher, reading is my area of strength.  I have my master’s degree in reading and literacy and I’ve served on our district’s literacy team for the past 7 years. Reading and literacy is my passion, when it comes to education.  It absolutely kills me to see my own child struggle with reading!

 I blame myself for his struggles.  (Don’t all parents?)  I often wish I had pushed less.  I wish I had done a better job of fostering a love of literacy, rather than constantly playing “teacher” and sapping the joy out of books.  Eventually, my son disliked books so much (and mom pushing him to read) that my husband had to take over the roll of Homework Helper.  They did a great job together, but my son still hated reading and still struggled.

At the beginning of my son’s 4th grade year, his teachers assessed him in reading fluency.  He was reading at about 60 words per minute.  He read accurately and with excellent comprehension, but 60 words per minute is a mid-second-grade speed.  He received a 1 on his report card for reading fluency.  He was very upset by his grade, but the rubric for reading fluency is cut and dry.  He needed to double his speed, in order to meet grade level expectations.

That was about the time we told my son that he would start to have “tutoring” and that until we could bring the score up, there would be no complaining.  I explained to him that all of my training and education was in reading and that I would be his reading tutor.  I told him that he couldn’t think of me as his mom during our work times.  He needed to listen to me and work like I was his teacher sitting next to him. He agreed and I could tell that he really wanted to bring his grade up.

I bought his appropriate level in the Read Naturally Program.  It is a program I used, as a second grade teacher, to help build fluency in reading.  The program was about $100 and I knew it would provide several months of appropriately leveled text for him.

Each book has several stories in it.  My son chooses his book and turns to the first story.  He sets the timer and starts reading.  The timer goes off when one minute is up.  He charts the number of words he read in one minute.  This is called the Cold Read and he graphs his words per minute in blue.  Next, he listens to the same story on a cd.  He reads along in his head.   Then, he reads along WITH the cd.  Having kids read along with a proficient reader helps build fluency and expression.  After a little practice, reading along with the cd, he times himself reading the same passage three more times.  Each time he reads, his rate increases a little bit.  He tracks his words per minute with each reading.  Finally, he does one last reading.  This is called the Hot Read and he graphs his words per minute in red.  It’s great because he can visually see his progress and he takes ownership in the process. During the reading lesson, we stop talk about the text, figure out unknown words, and even make connections to his own life. It sounds like a lot of reading, but you have to remember that each time your child reads a passage, it is only 1 minute.  Quick, easy, and effective… I like that!
Below you can see a sample of his graph.  During his first reading of the book he chose, he read only 65 words per minute.  After several readings, his rate increased to 130 words per minute.  Eventually, he started to notice that there wasn’t as much of a gap between his cold read and hot read scores.  He made the connection that his work was paying off.  Gradually, his speed and confidence was increasing. 

Now, here’s the great news.  I received an email from my son’s teacher yesterday.  Here’s a little bit of it:

“Just had to share the good news.  Mrs. Foster has been doing fluency testing with our class.  Today she tested your son.  He read 124 words per minute!  For this time of the year, 125 words per minute and higher is considered exceeding standard.  So he’s gone from the beginning of the year to being below standard, to not only meeting it, but ALMOST exceeding it!  Boy, that’s progress.
We are very proud of him, as I’m sure you are.”
I cried.
Happy reading!
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1 comment on “Read Naturally – We Did It!”

  1. jmm Reply

    Thank you for sharing this story. I'm so happy to hear that One Minute Reader has made a difference for your son.

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