Oral reading Speed Vs. Prosody Pt. 1

This last week was filled with beginning of the year benchmark testing for my students.  Something that has always gnawed at me is use using the number of words a student reads in a minute as a way to gauge reading ability.  We have this belief, that if students can read a certain number of words at a certain grade level, they are competent readers.  However, as I reread the research, it becomes clear that the piece we are leaving out is prosody.

Prosody is key to comprehension.  Being able to read with expression, to put pauses at the end of a sentence, to have the voice slightly raise at the end of the question are the things that breathe life into reading.  If we lose this while working with fluency, aren’t we slowly taking the emphasis away from comprehension and putting it on word recognition as the main goal of reading?  Aren’t we disengaging the part of the brain which connects meaning to those words and just emphasizing the part that recognizes how to say the word? Continue reading