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Component 2: Building Background & Fluency

A weekly partner routine builds reading fluency and background knowledge, which facilitates skilled word reading, knowledge of unit key vocabulary, and fosters knowledge of concepts and topics necessary for understanding the anchor text (days 1 and 2 each week).  

    What is this component? There are four levels of passages (ranging from beginning reader to grade five) written on topics related to those in the anchor text. Students are paired with a classmate that is reading at a different level to support sharing of background knowledge, and to offer models of more-fluent readers to less-fluent readers. 

    Why does this component matter? The goal of this activity is two-fold: to develop students’ shared background knowledge about a topic that may be unfamiliar but is relevant to understanding the key themes and ideas of the unit; and to develop students’ skills to read fluently. Both aspects are essential to skilled reading. Indeed, when student bring higher levels of background knowledge, they are better able to comprehend texts that contain complex language and would typically seem too challenging to tackle independently. Because skilled reading requires connecting ideas across a text, the more fluent a reader is, the better able that reader is to read a text without interruptions. Imagine reading a complex text. Each time reading is interrupted—to self-correct, to identify an unknown word, to process complex sentence structures—a reader’s comprehension of the text is also interrupted. When reading disfluently, readers simply have less cognitive ‘space’ to make meaning from a text because they are engaged in the laborious process of word reading. It is for this reason that we focus on fluency. It is not that reading words quickly and easily is important in and of itself; however, when readers can more fluently read text, they are better able to engage in comprehending it, which is the goal of TRANSLATE. 

    What skills and competencies does this component develop? Paired fluency work develops students’ fluent reading skills in the service of supporting text comprehension and exposes students to valuable background knowledge that can be used to comprehend the anchor text’s themes and content.  In addition, each text contains key vocabulary words useful for discussing the unit’s anchor text. 

    What do students do each week? Student complete paired Building Background and Fluency activities on days 1 and 2 of each week. Anchor charts are provided to support students in learning the routine. 
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