Oral and Silent Reading
May 6, 2006
A History of Reading
1600s – As soon as possible after a child could
speak, he learned to read using the ABC’s
and the primer.
1825 – Lyman Cobb compiled the first graded
reader series; the focus was elocution.
Late 1800s – Educators became alarmed
with the regimentation of instruction, rote
recitation, and non-thinking oral reading.
1900s – The beginning of the Silent Reading
Movement; shift from elocution to phonics.
1920s – The Radio Era gradually put an end to
the oral reading of lessons at home, so
responsibility for teaching reading was placed
on the schools.
1950s – The supplementary reader idea of the
1920s gave way to the co- and tribasal idea.
from Directing Reading Maturity as a Cognitive
Process, pgs. 362-368.
Reading in the Classroom
Children need opportunities to read both orally and silently in the
classroom or it will impede progress.
Before 3rd grade, students comprehend better when reading orally. After
that, comprehension lies in silent reading, whereas oral reading focuses
more on building vocalization and pronunciation skills.
It is necessary to motivate the silent reading in the classroom, telling the
students what to look for, what they will be expected to do, and what
they will be expected to know after reading is completed.
Studies show that poor readers are only given 1/3 of the opportunities to
read in class as good readers.
“During oral reading, better readers tend to be encouraged to figure out a
word for themselves, while low achieving readers tend to be supplied the
word too quickly by the teacher.” (Reading Assessment for Diagnostic Prescriptive Teaching)
“The core of every lesson in intensive reading should be silent reading . . .
It is during the silent reading that the student is really learning how
to read.” – Eugene Jackson
Security / Ownership / Trust
Supports and helps with unknown words
Reads like talking
Only place where meaning and comprehension take place
“During silent reading, children have the opportunity to control their own
pace, review material, and formulate personal reactions”
– Reading Assessment for Diagnostic Prescriptive Teaching
Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)
Reading program with goal of developing lifelong readers
Kindergarten – 12 grade
10-30 min. of in-class recreational reading
Children self-select books
Teacher drops everything and reads, too
Either individual classrooms or school-wide
No interruptions allowed
Benefits of SSR Supplementing SSR
Opportunity for students to develop Keeping logs/journals (SSW)
book choice Teacher modeling
Builds students’ confidence in ability Weekly discussions about what has
to work through reading trouble spots been read
on their own Small groups following reading
Teacher models love for reading Pairs of “reading friends”
Feeling of community in classroom
Studies show that students want to
Parents report students asking for
books to read at home
The Oral Reading Strategy
“A simple way to model the complex ‘inside the head’
processes that enable the reader to comprehend
and think about text.”
1. Teacher should prepare and pre-read the selection that will
2. Teacher reads first few pages of the selection and pauses
periodically to comment or ask simple questions.
3. Teacher reads more with less questions and comments.
4. Teacher tells the class to read the next portion silently,
modeling the structure she has laid out for them.
The Purpose of Oral Reading
To read aloud to an audience something
they have not heard before and to hold
their attention is one of the high aims
of oral reading . . . In audience
circumstances other pupils cannot follow
in a text. They become listeners.
Audience attention is more likely to be
focused on content rather than on
word errors, and the situation is more
likely to be one in which to learn
rather than to find fault. from Directing Reading Maturity as a Cognitive
Process, pg. 121.
Components of Oral Reading
Accuracy: measures the student’s precision in orally presenting the
words in the text.
Rate: the speed at which the students read aloud.
Fluency: a rating of the student’s ability to render an appropriately
phrased and syntactically coherent delivery of the passage.
from NAEP 2002 Special Study of
Oral Reading, pg. 15.
Oral Reading Fluency Scale
Level 4 Reads primarily in larger, meaningful phrase groups.
Although some regressions, repetitions, and deviations from
text may be present, these do not appear to detract from the
overall structure of the story. Preservation of the author’s
Fluent syntax is consistent. Some or most of the story is read with
Level 3 Reads primarily in three- or four-word phrase groups.
Some small groupings may be present. However, the
majority of phrasing seems appropriate and preserves the
syntax of the author. Little or no expressive interpretation is
Level 2 Reads primarily in two-word phrases with some three-
or four-word groupings. Some word-by-word reading may
be present. Word groupings may seem awkward and
Non-Fluent unrelated to larger context of sentence or passage.
Level 1 Reads primarily word-by-word. Occasional two-word
or three-word phrases may occur—but these are infrequent
and/or they do not preserve meaningful syntax.
from NAEP 2002 Special Study of
Oral Reading, pg. 40.
Testing Oral versus Silent Reading
IRI (Informal Reading Inventories)
Graded reading passages from Form A to Form B are typically
given to the student in alternating order for oral and then
Rate of Reading and Flexibility
Measure Words Per Minute (WPM) in each
What can parents do?
Jennie Nash outlines the do’s and don’ts of a parents’ role in helping their
child read in her book Raising a Reader.
101 Reasons to Read with your Child
• Encourages Bonding • Becomes an Educational Tool • Allows for Better Understanding of
• Bridges the Generation Gap • Helps Raise Academic and Social Each Other
• Encourages Character Performance • Develops Critical Thinking
Development • Looks at World History in • Expands Knowledge and an
• Explains the Meaning of Success Exciting New Ways Appreciation for the Arts
• Builds Self-Confidence • Helps with Habits and Attitudes • Promotes Healthy Problem Solving
• Teaches Responsibility • Identifies Interests and Nurtures • Helps Face Fears of the Unknown
• Increases Sense of Worthiness Them • Can Ease a Child’s Fears When a New
• Shows Family Support • Teaches Spirituality Through Baby Joins the Family
Examples • Reduces Overall Family Tension
• Encourages Self-Expression
• Creates a Family Culture • Teaches that Individual Differences are
• Develops Integrity
• Creates Warm Family Memories Okay
• Promotes Self-Respect
• Teaches How to Express Ideas • Creates New Family Ties
• Fosters Independence
• Encourages a Variety of Reading • Strengthens Old Family Ties
• Instills a Sense of Mutual Respect Materials • Curbs Inappropriate Emotions
• Teaches Your Child How to Ask • Nurtures You (as the Reader)
for Help • Teaches How to Share Emotional Space
• Redefines Parenthood; Expanding • Explains Difficult Situations
• Helps You to Better Understand the Parental Role
Your Child • Examines Unfamiliar Ideas
• Builds Special One-on-One • Establishes a Family Activity
• Shares Adult Point-of-View with Relationships
Child • Encourages Laughing Together
• Allows You to Become an
• Explains How Reading Can be Intellectual Role Model • Encourages a Sense of Wonder
Instructional • Shares Wisdom
101 Reasons cont.
• Helps Them Imagine Their • Stretches the Attention Span and • Increases Awareness of the Real World
“Impossible” Careers Memory • Improves Infant Motor Skills
• Teaches Family History • Encourages Curiosity • Can Help Build Long-Distance
• Teaches How Career Choices are • Enhances Listening Skills Relationships
Made • Encourages Literacy • Instills a Love of Books
• Increases Quality Time Together • Encourages Educated Speech • Can Calm or Help a Child Go to Sleep
• Gives Pre-Schoolers a Head Start • Makes Vacations More Memorable By
• Teaches Teamwork
• Encourages Self-Expression Knowing About the Destination
• Develops the Ability to Read Alone • Exposes a Child to New Information
• Teaches Children to be Nurturing
• Helps Develop Decision-Making Parents • Encourages Good Judgment
Skills • Teaches How to Learn from • Helps Create a Positive Lifestyle
• Helps Understand Cultural Mistakes • Helps Children Mature
Differences • Introduces the Child to the Richly • Encourages Positive Attitudes
• Teaches How to Focus Textured Lives of Different People • Encourages Healthy Compromises
• Improves Homework • Stimulates the Imagination • Teaches the Meaning of Commitment
• Creates a Work Ethic • Creates Intellectual Challenges • Helps Prepare for Life’s Challenges
• Stimulates a World View of Ethnic • Trains Children to Speak Clearly
• Improves Writing Skills
• Improves Performance in School • Teaches the Relationship Between
• Exposes a Child to Current Affairs Letters and Words
• Increases Vocabulary Through • Develops an Appreciation of the
Exposure to New Words • Teaches the Appreciation of Life
• Teaches Tolerance
• Exposes Listener to Good • Creates a Sense of Belonging
Grammar • Teaches Leadership
• Helps the Child Distinguish
• Trains the Child in Proper Between Fact and Fiction
Pronunciation (and Phonics)
Can you believe that?
On average, students spend 21.2 hours per week watching TV, but a
mere 1.9 hours per week reading.
(U.S. Department of Education Study of 25,000 eighth graders)
Only half of infants and toddlers are routinely read to by their parents.
(Carnegie Foundation Report)
43% of people with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty, 17% receive
food stamps and 70% have no job or a part time job.
(National Institute for Literacy in Washington ,D.C.)
Forty-four million adults in the U.S. (21-23% of the adult population)
can’t read well enough to read a simple story to a child.
(Association of American Publishers)
Seven out of ten prisoners in this country cannot read.
(Tom Harken’s Wake-Up Call Year 2000 Update)