Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I am Not a Reading Rocket!

Well, I'm at home these days working on my reading with the Dynamic Reader Program.  Apparently, my reading fluency isn't all that it's cracked up to be.  I am not a Reading Rocket!

I have been reading a series of passages about Bruce Springsteen, Amelia Earhart, and the Beatles.  The text streams by me line by line in chunks.  I'm not allowed to go back and look at anything I've missed.  If I get it, I get it.  If I don't pay attention, it will roll past me.

Also, I figured out that I can't do it too late in the evening.  I did my first session at 11 pm one night and was falling asleep in the middle of it; so I figured I needed to do it earlier in the day when I was more alert.  My scores showed it.  I got a 60% on the questions on the text.

These days, I am reading about 170-185 words per minute.  That's a six grade reading fluency!  I've been getting about 80% of my questions correct.  

I do this therapy 5 times a week for the next two months and then I get reassessed. 

What is reading fluency and why should you care?  Reading fluency is the ability to read text smoothly and at a reasonable rate. High fluency scores are positively correlated with high reading comprehension scores.  Reading comprehension is on all the standardized tests from elementary school through graduate school.  Fluency is the bridge between word recognition and reading comprehension.

Skilled readers have:
  • Automaticity:   translating letters to sounds to words effortlessly and accurately.
  • Expression:  the  ability to use proper intonation or expression (i.e., "prosodic features"-pitch, juncture, and stress) in one's voice.
  • Rate:  appropriate reading speed according to the reader's purpose or the type of passage.  This is measured in the number of words correct per minute (WPCM)
  • Accuracy:  reading the material with few errors.  A benchmark is that if you missing more than 10% of the material, the text is too hard for you. 
  • Comprehension:  the ability to understand the text.
Less Skilled readers struggle through text by reading in a word by word manner struggling to decode words.

I am trying to think about where I fit in all of this and what components of reading that I am having trouble with.  I mean... like how do I go from trudging through rather turgid passages on the nose and reading about nasal receptors and protein sensitivity to not quite getting jr high school passages about Amelia Earhart and the Beatles?

I read French fluently.  And I have some reasonable competency reading Japanese and Chinese.   Reading character based languages involves a different dynamic than languages based on the Roman alphabet.  What's going on there? 

How do the above measures of fluency break down for me and my vision problems?  What's the link between problems of focusing and automaticity, expression rate, accuracy, and comprehension?  More on this to come.

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