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Good Reader with Slow Processing Speed

posted Dec 7, 2016, 2:43 PM by Judi Munday
Tested a young high school student today, and despite good reading decoding, she has been having struggles getting all her school work done in a timely way. She also shows some characteristics of dyslexia. By the time I'd completed testing, it seemed clear that the student's primary reading difficulty arose from trying to read more rapidly than her brain could process the content, retain important facts, and answer key questions based on the content. She had excellent memory skills and age-appropriate math skills.  I suggested to her that there was one particular way she could improve her reading/processing skills while reducing her oral reading errors.  It's a simple, yet highly effective study strategy that has the potential of both increasing her accuracy in oral reading and improving comprehension.

If you stop to think about it, you know that almost all oral reading done by a child reading from a passage that they have never seen before!  It's all new.  In order to improve their reading "fluency" (reading smoothly with understanding and proper expression), it is important for them to practice reading the SAME passage multiple times. Think of it in the same way you ask your child to practice math facts.  You ask the student to practice until the answers to math fact questions come automatically and easily as they are carrying out calculations.  Reading fluency practice has a similar purpose!  Here's all you need to do: Tape (video/audio) your child as they read a 100-200 word passage that is new to them - but make sure it's close to the difficulty level where they are reading every day.  Play the recording back with them and highlight or comment on the mistakes (or ask your child to make note of each error.)  Now, ask the child to practice reading the same short passage over and over until "they read it as smoothly as they talk."  When they are ready, record them again and compare the oral reading with the printed text (as you read along with the recording.)  Comment to the student about specific improvements you notice.  If they are missing end marks or maybe are not using appropriate phrasing, demonstrate how the passage should sound by reading to them.  Exaggerate the emotions or phrases so they really notice what's important.  That's enough for one day.  Each day, select a new passage and repeat.  Within a few weeks, you will see a marked improvement in their oral reading. You should also expect an improvement in comprehension, since by then, the child will be reading complete ideas - not reading one or two words at a time!  Try it!