A 6 Minute Fluency Sequence for Students with Dyslexia (who have significantly impaired RAN)
How do we teach students with dyslexia to improve their fluency? We can’t.
Well, that’s not entirely true, but let’s talk about it.
Rapid automatized naming (RAN) is a task that measures how quickly students can name aloud objects, pictures, colors, or symbols (letters or digits). RAN is considered to be a strong predictor of a student’s fluency and later ability to read. In particular, RAN for letters and digits correlates more strongly with reading skills. Poor RAN is often associated with reading difficulties in students.
The problem - RAN scores cannot be directly remedied.
Research has shown that the training of RAN does not improve reading. This is why we would not attempt to address a student’s RAN instructionally.
So what can teachers do?
We can provide instruction to improve student’s fluency (this is different from RAN instruction) and/or teach strategies that integrate reading skills into a student’s fluency.
Slower than average RAN scores are often associated with struggles with word-level reading. At the word-level, readers must attend to the individual word in a text. Word-Level reading skills are based upon phonological/phonemic skills. Poor access to phonemes in spoken words negatively affects reading development. Such difficulties affect phonic development, sight word acquisition, and fluency.
Fluency refers to the reading of words quickly and accurately. And research has shown that skilled word level reading is the gateway to fluency.
The largest factor that determines a student's fluency is the size of a student's vocabulary. So fluency instruction should be directed towards building a student's sight vocabulary. These words can be either phonetically regular or irregular, but the point is for students to be able to instantly read them because they are that familiar.
So simple exposure to words and reading practice boosts sight vocabulary of typical readers!
This is the 5 minute fluency practice that can support fluency for MOST students.
Not only does it improve students' fluency, but it also supports students' social emotional learning skills by teaching students to take ownership over their learning by setting goals for themselves and graphing their progress.
But what happens if you do not see any improvement in a student’s fluency? Well, we need to figure out why! Is the student’s fluency not changing or improving because the student’s RAN is so impaired? If a student’s RAN is not significantly impaired, why is fluency not changing?
Difficulties with sub-skills of language are quite common among dyslexic students. And as a result, these students have lower RAN scores. Furthermore, students with dyslexia can perform average on RAN and poorly on phonological awareness and/or phonological memory and vice versa. This is called the Double-Deficit Phenomenon, and it refers to students who have difficulties with both phonological awareness and RAN. These student’s reading difficulties tend to be a lot more severe and remediation can take a lot longer. (Note: Research has demonstrated that students with deficits in RAN alone, and no phonological awareness deficits tend to have milder reading difficulties than those with phonological awareness deficits.
Now, remember what we said earlier? Research has also shown that the training of RAN does not improve reading. On the other hand, though, research has proven that phonological awareness training can improve reading skills. Problems with RAN have been shown to be partially addressed through phonological awareness training.
For students with impaired RAN who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, teachers should define fluency differently. This is because impaired RAN is closely related to word-reading speed, than to word-reading accuracy. For these students, the goal of fluency should be a moderate rate and expression when reading. For students with dyslexia, fluency cannot focus on the timed aspect of the skill.
Ask - What do I want contextual reading to look like for this student?
Don’t ask - How fast can this student read a text? Instead, set realistic goals and provide direct instruction to meet the student’s lagging fluency skills.
So to improve students’...
-expression while reading, and
-rate of reading to a moderate rate,
You can use this 6 Minute Fluency Sequence for Students with Dyslexia (who have impaired RAN):
Grab a FREEBIE of this instructional sequence by clicking HERE!
Happy and healthy teaching!
By Miss Rae
References, Kilpatrick, 2015
Interview with Dr. Maryanne Wolf https://childrenofthecode.org/interviews/wolf.htm#DoubleDeficitInterventions