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When Kids can’t Read, What a Focus on Fluency can do: The Reading Clinic Experience at Kent State University

Advanced Literacy Practices

ISBN: 978-1-78190-503-6, eISBN: 978-1-78190-504-3

Publication date: 4 January 2013


Purpose – This chapter profiles a summer reading clinic that utilizes graduate students (clinicians) to provide diagnostic literacy intervention for students in grades one through six who struggle with reading and writing. The chapter asserts that struggling readers can become successful when instruction is designed around research-based principles of teaching and learning. A description is provided of the instructional routine employed at the clinic that focuses on fluency and has been shown to assist students in making significant improvements in their literacy progress.

Methodology/approach – The authors describe how teachers and intervention specialists work together to provide an effective intervention to the students that emphasizes a specific guided oral fluency routine known as the Fluency Development Lesson (FDL). Each step in the FDL is explained. Prior to instruction, clinicians administered an informal reading inventory to gain baseline data about the students in the areas of word recognition, fluency, and comprehension and to subsequently inform instruction. During the fifth and final week of the program, posttests were administered. T-Tests indicated that students made significant progress (p <.001) from pretest to posttest in all areas measured.

Limitations – The authors acknowledge that the study is small in scale, the intervention period was limited, and the results may have been influenced by outside factors beyond their control.

Research implications – The study's primary purpose was to improve the reading outcomes of the students involved. The reading clinic setting is ideal for further FDL research including its impact on older students and the incorporation of digital texts on student performance. Additionally, readers of the chapter are encouraged to apply the methods and processes to their own classrooms.

Originality/value – This chapter shows how a summer reading clinic strives to apply research-based, common sense factors that matter most in teaching struggling students to read in intervention and classroom settings. Some of the factors such as the importance of instructional routine, time-on-task, text selection, targeted teaching, and instructional talk are considered key to the successful implementation of the FDL and the clinical experience.



Zimmerman, B., Rasinski, T. and Melewski, M. (2013), "When Kids can’t Read, What a Focus on Fluency can do: The Reading Clinic Experience at Kent State University", Ortlieb, E. and Cheek, E.H. (Ed.) Advanced Literacy Practices (Literacy Research, Practice and Evaluation, Vol. 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 137-160.



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