Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


College of Education and Human Services


Early Childhood, Elementary and Literacy Education

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Tina Jacobowitz

Committee Member

Susan Wray

Committee Member

Katrina Bulkley


Research in the field of reading has shown that oral reading fluency is important because it is correlated to successful reading comprehension. Although some students acquire fluency skills, others struggle to use strategies to develop fluency. My concerns about reading fluency came about because my students were not reading texts smoothly and accurately. This action research project was designed to discover what strategies first grade students use to read unfamiliar words. Specifically, I focused on whether or not blending would be a good strategy to improve reading fluency. In order to address the issue of reading fluency, I gathered information about the strategies that the students were using most frequently in the classroom. From that information, more explicit instruction on blending was implemented to determine its effectiveness in improving fluency. Data on students’ use of three strategies- blending, picture cues, and whole word recognitionwere collected through reading observations that recorded their fluency and use of strategies, student feedback about the use of the three strategies, interviews that questioned use and application of all three strategies, and a personal research journal log. At the conclusion of the study, data were analyzed and compared to make discoveries about the effectiveness of blending and which strategies were the most frequently used to read words. A major finding was that of the three strategies, blending was the strategy least likely to be used to read unfamiliar words. Therefore, the implication for me as a reading teacher is that I must enhance my students’ abilities to blend in addition to using picture cues and whole word recognition. Based on existing research and my own study, I now believe that blending can be an important strategy for helping students to read unfamiliar words. As a result, I plan to teach it in combination with picture cues and whole word recognition.

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