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Ensure that each student reads connected text every day to support reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension—SIPPS and IES/WWC Instruction

The IES: What Works Clearinghouse Practice Guide Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade includes four basic evidence-based principles for early literacy instruction. The suggestions for best practice are in line with the results-based Instruction found in all three levels of SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words). The focus in recommendation 4: Ensure that each student reads connected text every day to support reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension, is also consistent with SIPPS instruction.

In the previous blogs (see below for links), we discussed the first three recommendations from the IES/WWC Educator’s Practice Guide. Here in part 4, we will examine how the SIPPS program supports teachers in providing opportunities for students to apply their learning through daily reading practice focused on reading with accuracy and fluency, which ultimately leads to improved comprehension.

The WWC panel found compelling evidence that reading connected text impacts fluency development, which is necessary for both reading comprehension and later reading success. The panel further states “Having students read connected text daily, both with and without constructive feedback, facilitates the development of reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension, and should begin as soon as students can identify a few words.”

The panel suggests three instructional components for reading connected text.

  • As students read orally, model strategies, scaffold, and provide feedback to support accurate and efficient word identification.
  • Teach students to self-monitor their understanding of the text and to self-correct word-reading errors.
  • Provide opportunities for oral reading practice with feedback to develop fluent and accurate reading with expression.

In this blog, we will examine how the SIPPS program addresses reading connected texts through two separate activities: 1) reading a story/selection as applied to the day’s lesson and 2) fluency practice. The SIPPS routines for reading a selection will vary depending on the students’ developmental stage.

As students read orally, model strategies, scaffold, and provide feedback to support accurate and efficient word identification.

In SIPPS Beginning Level, for example, students progress through two stages of reading a story and fluency practice. They learn to read through 1) sounding and blending CVC words and 2) memorizing sight words so they can be successful in reading connected texts. Accuracy is the focus at this level, with the goal of making students efficient “alphabetic readers”—readers who can sound out unfamiliar words and choose to do so rather than relying on consonant sounds and context.

In Lessons 1–11, the students read stories made up of instructed sight words with picture support for some vocabulary. This format allows students to read the sight words in context.

In Lessons 12–55, the students read stories made up of sight words and decodable words that are based on the letter-sound relationships taught in each lesson.

Teach students to self-monitor their understanding of the text and to self-correct word-reading errors.

In SIPPS Extension Level, the “Read a Mixed List” routine includes a variety of correction routines that apply to specific types of student errors. When teachers consistently use the correction routines, students learn strategic thinking they can apply to unknown words or use to self-correct word-reading errors when reading connected text.

Provide opportunities for oral reading practice with feedback to develop fluent and accurate reading with expression.

Fluent reading requires the reader to use appropriate phrasing and expression when reading, paying attention to and using punctuation marks. In SIPPS Beginning and Extension Levels (and SIPPS Plus), the students read chorally sentence by sentence, pausing appropriately for periods and question marks. Students are reminded that being accurate is more important than being fast, but through a massive amount of accurate reading, students become more automatic and fluent.

The teacher plays an active role during fluency practice in all levels of the SIPPS program. The more accurate students become, the longer they are expected to read to themselves. Across the three levels of the SIPPS program, there is a progression in:

  • Minimum length of independent practice
  • Kinds of reading materials
  • Mode of reading (aloud to self or silently)

For more information, see the Fluency Practice section of the Routines Appendix in the SIPPS Teacher’s Manual.

This is the fourth blog in a series on the IES: What Works Clearinghouse Practice Guide Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade focusing on four basic evidence-based principles for early literacy instruction.