#SEACCR Week 7: Research Proposal


The focus of my research project is the impact elementary student’s reading fluency (rate, accuracy, and expression) scores when using the iTalk app to record and listen to their reading. The app iTalk is an iPod/iPad app that allows users to record their voice. My research discussed several strategies to teach and reinforce reading fluency skills. The strategy my project will focus on is repeated readings. According to Oakley (2003), repeated readings are one of the best methods to use to teach and reinforce reading fluency skills.

Research Question

Does using iTalk for repeated reading practice helping improve reading fluency by increasing rate, increasing accuracy, and improving expression?

Literature Review

Fluency is an integral skill for students and many believe reading fluency and comprehension are related. Reading fluency is a skill that needs to be taught through out a student’s elementary school years. Fluency instruction is crucial in elementary years, but has been found to be equally important beyond the elementary grades, even into high school, especially among students from low socioeconomic backgrounds (Rasinski, 2004).

Fluency is a reader’s ability to read fluidly with accuracy and appropriate pacing and expression.   If a student is incapable of reading fluently then the likelihood of comprehending what is read decreases. According to Rasinski (2004), “Reading fluency refers to the reader’s ability to develop control over surface-level text processing so that he or she can focus on understanding the deeper levels of meaning embedded in the text” (p.46). As students get older, students with poor fluency skills have difficulty with the reading required for academic success beyond their elementary years (Spear-Swerling, 2006).

Instruction in fluency depends on the individual student’s needs. It is important to assess each student individually. There are many ways to assess a student’s reading fluency. Many schools have started using an online reading assessment AIMSWeb. Students are given three grade level passages. For each passage a student’s reading is timed for 60 seconds. The person assessing the student keeps track of the words the student reads incorrectly (errors). The student’s errors are subtracted from the total number of words read giving the assessor a reading fluency score. After all three reading passages the best of the three scores is the one recorded. According to Rasinski (2004), listening to a student read a grade level passage and using a rubric that scores the students expression, phrasing, smoothness and pace is the best way to assess a student’s fluency. Rubrics assess the student’s fluency skill-by-skill not just words per minute. After a student is assessed then the instruction can begin. Rasinski (2006) suggests using repeated readings as one strategy to instruct students on reading fluency. After the teacher reads a passage aloud to students they are asked to following along silently then aloud as a group. Rasinski also suggests using a variety of passages i.e. reader’s theater, poems, speeches, and riddles. Oakley (2003) also states repeated reading is a beneficial strategy for teaching student’s to be fluent readers. “It is necessary to teach reading fluency explicitly because many children don’t just pick it up” (Oakley). Along with repeated reading Oakley also suggests modeling fluent reading and teaching self-monitoring to students. Listening to audio books and teacher read alouds are important for students to get a sense of pacing and expression. Students need to learn how to self monitor their reading. Having students record and listen to themselves helps them learn to monitor their reading.

Current technology is new and ever changing and this dynamic helps peak student interest, which in-turn increases student achievement. Many educators are continuously looking for modern ways to utilize technology to motivate students. According to Sklar (2009), Aliso Elementary School in Orange County piloted an iEngage program that gave 5th graders in the pilot class an Apple iPod. The teacher was hoping to use the iPods to help increase her student’s reading fluency. She noticed that her students were more engaged and more excited to learn when they were allowed to use the iPod. In Sklar’s article she interviewed a student who mentioned the app that helped him the most was iTalk for fluency because he could hear how he read. The student noticed the more he used iTalk his reading improved. He also enjoyed using iTalk to listen to his reading improvements.

Fluency is a skill that needs to be taught, modeled and practiced during and sometimes beyond elementary school. Technology can help engage students and increase fluency rates. Using apps like iTalk that allow students to record themselves reading, while practicing their pacing, expression, and accuracy allow students to listen to themselves and helps increase their fluency rates.



The participants for this action research project a 3rd grade class of 24 students. The school is a Title I school on an army base, because the school is on a military base they have a large percentage of students move in and out of the school. Data was collected on the students who were enrolled at the school at the start of the study.


We will use iPads and iPods with the app iTalk. Students will also use headphones to listen to their recordings. To assess the student’s rate and accuracy we will use AIMSweb. To assess the student’s expression we will use a rating rubric. The data collection will continue for a period of four weeks.


The data of student’s AIMSweb fluency scores and expression using the expression rubric will be collected prior to using iTalk to get a baseline score. The students will be shown how to use the iTalk app to record reading a grade level passage. We will be in the room to assist students with using the technology. Students will be given a new grade level passage each week. After recording their reading students will listen to their recording. Each student will use the iTalk app twice a week to read, record and listen. This data collection and analysis period will take approximately four weeks.


We will look at the student’s rate of increase of reading rate and accuracy over a four-week time period prior to using the iTalk app and after the use of the iTalk app. Students will rate their expression using a rating rubric; we will also rate the student’s expression over a four-week time period after the use of the iTalk app.

iTalk Reading Expression Rubric

Name:                                                 Date:                        

0 1 2

I can’t hear myself properly.

I don’t read loud enough to hear all the text. I read loud enough to hear all the text.

I read too quickly or too slowly.

I mostly read at the same speed all the way through. I read at the right pace to make it easy to listen to.

I don’t look for punctuation when I read.

I sometimes use punctuation when I’m reading. I use punctuation to pause and stop at the right places.

I stumble over lots of words or mumble lots of words.

I mostly read clearly with a few stumbles. I read each word clearly.

My voice is boring with no highs or lows. I read like a robot.

I use some highs or lows to add life to a text. I use expression in my voice to make the text ‘come alive’.

My reading is choppy and doesn’t flow smoothly from word to word.

Some of my reading flows and some is choppy.

I read so the text flows smoothly.
Total:               /12


Oakley, G. (2003). Improving oral reading fluency (and comprehension) through the

creation of talking books. Reading Online, 6(7), n7. Retrieved from http://www.readingonline.org/articles/Oakley/

Rasinski, T. (2004). Creating fluent readers. Educational Leadership, 61(6), 46-51.

Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar04/vol61/num06/Creating-Fluent-Readers.aspx

Sklar, D. (2009). Legendary local: Saddleback teacher issues ipod touch to students.

News-n-Views. Retrieved from http://www.news-n-views.com/asp/articlenews.asp?art_id=3676&internal=1&issue_date=10/11/2009&place=0648256&edent=8853059

Spear-Swerling, L. (2006). Preventing and remediating difficulties with reading fluency.

WETA. Retrieved from  http://www.ldonline.org/spearswerling/Preventing_and_Remediating_Difficulties_with_Reading_Fluency


8 thoughts on “#SEACCR Week 7: Research Proposal

  1. It has been interesting to watch your project come together. I admire the way you will use a simple app in an attempt to increase reading skills. Being able to listen to themselves will be a powerful way to show progress. As these kids get older, I can see using video so they can see their expressions in addition to hearing their voice. Perhaps as a way to discover new acting talent? Your grading rubric for students is excellent. It is simple but descriptive. As I read through your proposal, I was trying to think of suggestions I could make. After reading it several times, I could not come up with any wonderful words of advice. You have an excellent plan that should be very successful. Well done, Alison.

  2. I have to agree with Scott. This is a great proposal. Your rubric is fantastic. One suggestion – you say ‘we’ will look at student’s rate…Who is we? I kept expecting another researcher. I would edit to be clear about who is actually assessing. Also, expression – are you referring to voice expression or facial expression during reading? I presumed expression in reading but Scott’s suggestion about video made me think maybe I missed something. There has actually been work done with speech therapists who video tape their students and replay to help them learn how to use their tongue and lips to form the way they need to manipulate the sounds. I’d quote this but one of my clients is the teacher who was telling me about it and I don’t have details. Very interesting though!

    • In the example that Dr. Jones shared with us it said “we”, so I just went with it. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to use the word “I”. Normally in APA format “I” is not supposed to be used. I guess I could refer to myself as “the researcher”. Not sure… I will have to see what everyone else is using. Thanks for the suggestions.

      • Ali – you can use I in case study research…and in AR. Or if “we” means you and the student, you can keep it at “we”. Your rubric comes directly from the literature – and that is great! You might draw that more explicitly to your reader’s attention. Very good…

  3. Ali,
    That is why I didn’t feel like I could totally finish mine, because the example given seems like it was already completed. I haven’t completed the research in the classroom yet, so I felt I had to leave it blank. I thought you did well with adjusting to this fact. In your participation section you stated …”data was collected…” then you change to we will… Maybe you should change the was to will be to make it all past tense. Very nicely done rubric, and you guided us through your research and the process really well (I love how they are intertwined so nicely). Great job Ali.

  4. The proposal looks excellent. I also really like the rubric.
    That reminds me…I have to do ones if these as well! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Thanks and thanks for the help. I am going to try and see if I can get two 3rd grade classes to use the app. My husband advised the more students the more reliable my data will be. I really want it to be the same grade level, because I don’t want to create more variables.

    • I was doing some reading about quantitative data and I was thinking should I change my research question from: Does using iTalk for repeated reading practice helping improve reading fluency by increasing rate, increasing accuracy, and improving expression?
      to this: After using the iTalk app did student’s fluency, accuracy and expression improve or decrease?

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