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Teaching Strategies and Examples: Letter-Sound Fluency

Step 1: Is Fluency Building Appropriate?

  1. Examine student's performance on the DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency measure to determine whether accuracy is an appropriate target.
  2. Identify target goal of 50 letter sounds per minute by middle of grade 1.
  3. Review the following mid-Grade 1 performance patterns.
    • Example A: Score of 20. All correct. No errors but very slow.
    • Example B: Score of 10. 15 attempts, 5 errors.
    • Example C: Score of 20. 5 errors (random errors).

Step 2: How to Develop Letter Sound Fluency: Scaffolding and Review

  1. Identify letter sounds students can identify accurately and include them in fluency building. Instruct students on letter sounds not identified accurately.
  2. Progress from accuracy to fluency by systematically decreasing the amount of time per response (3 - 2 - 1).
  3. Separate highly similar examples (d/b) on 1st sets.
  4. Include multiple examples of each letter sound in the practice set.
  5. Provide 2-3 short duration practice opportunities per day.

Letter-Sound Fluency Building Example: The 1-Minute Dash

  1. Identify a set of letter sounds student can correctly identify.
  2. Include multiple cards of each letter in the set.
  3. Set a goal (i.e., 30 letter sounds correct).
  4. Do a 1-minute small-group practice. Position cards so that all students can see.
  5. Start the stop watch.
  6. Present the first letter sound card so that all students answer.
  7. Provide quick corrective feedback on errors.
  8. Continue presenting letters.
  9. Letter-sounds correctly identified go in one pile.
  10. Place errors in second pile.
  11. At the end of 1 minute, tally the number of letter sounds correct.
  12. Review errors and repeat activity for 1 more minute.

Examples of Letter-Sound Fluency Activities

  1. Paired peer practice. Pair a higher performer with a child who needs fluency practice. Use similar procedures as in 1-Minute Dash. Each child may use his/her set of known letter sounds. (Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies Fuchs, Fuchs, Mathes, & Simmons; see References).
  2. Rapid response practice during instruction. Include a short review of known and newly taught letter sounds during instruction. Systematically decrease the amount of time students have to respond.