Do you have students who seem more focused on rate than overall reading improvement? It’s natural for some Read Naturally students to get caught up in the “game” of trying to read faster and faster with each timing. But as you know, fluency is about accuracy, expression, and rate, which together lead to comprehension. To pass a story, the Read Naturally Strategy requires students to meet all four of these criteria. Remind students that the ultimate goal is comprehension, not speed.

If a student persists in being overly focused on rate, consider the following remedial actions:

  • Have the student read the passage to you, untimed and with correct phrasing, before he or she can do the Pass timing.
  • Emphasize comprehension by having the student retell the story to you before the Pass timing.
  • Reduce the number of read-alongs. With less audio support, students will need to work harder on word recognition, forcing them to slow down and learn to read the words accurately.
  • Lower the student’s goal. Most students don’t like having their goals lowered, but in some cases it may be necessary. Lowering the goal once is usually enough to help the student read at a more appropriate rate.

It’s important to take only one of these remedial actions at a time, and give students time to adjust. Often a nudge in the right direction is enough to help your students slow down. Increasing their rate is exciting, but passing stories and moving up levels is far more rewarding.

Do you have additional suggestions for slowing down your speed readers? We’d love to hear what’s worked in your classroom. Comment below to share your thoughts with fellow teachers.