Comprehension – Forerunner Skills: Punctuation, Fluency & Expression
These skills need to be intentionally taught to weak readers – the incidental approach doesn’t meet their needs.
Punctuation: Inform the student that a coma signifies a short pause and a period a longer one and that in both cases the voice is slightly lowered; the length of a question mark’s pause is the same as that of a period while the voice is slightly raised.
The following techniques develop all three forerunner skills.
Modelling: The tutor reads a short sentence or part of a longer one and then has the student re-read it. Continuing with the text, the procedure is repeated 1-2 times more. This is followed by solo reading by the student. If needed, carry out this exercise 2-3 times during a session.
There is no cause for concern if the student appears to be reciting the text from memory as mimicking will still develop the required skills.
Joint Teaching: Here the tutor reads a couple of sentences along with the student. The tutor could either inform the student that s/he will be doing this or s/he could jump in whenever the need to do so arises.
Students appreciate these approaches as the built-in assistance promotes success. In addition, the environment produced by these techniques tend to be stress-free – another factor which encourages learning.
A word of caution: Techniques such as attempting to improve fluency by reading against the clock has a testing element to it. Therefore, it’s recommended that it only be used if it does not cause the student to become apprehensive.
Side Note: Please note that if the efficacy of an approach has been questioned by professionals but is working well for your student/child (there is progress without undue stress), by all means use it.