Teaching Elementary School Students

Decoding, Automaticity, and Fluency


Our approach for teaching Elementary School Reading Skills is a different way to use the Proportional Reading from that used in middle school, high school, college, and for adult readers. This Training Manual teaches both approaches.

Our approach for teaching Elementary School Reading Skills is for elementary school students and adult beginners, and focuses on decoding, automaticity, and fluency. In this approach the student tries to  read out loud a highlighted section of text before hearing it read. Then, when ready and upon command, the student hears the text read correctly. If the student made a mistake in what he or she just read, or had trouble reading smoothly, the student echoes what he or she just heard. Then the student re-reads the section of text smoothly.

This elementary school approach is also used for improving English speech. See the next chapter on “Improving Speech”.

As soon as a student masters the Elementary School Reading Skills, he or she progresses to reading at faster speeds, using the techniques in the rest of this Training Manual.

Everything you have already learned for reading textbooks and novels is valuable. The Setup and controls for Elementary reading are the same, except they are used slightly differently.

Age appropriate chapter books are used in this program. Any short book can be quickly converted to text properly formatted and paginated for this type of reading. Pictures are not used, just text. As the student advances, the books get harder. Teachers and classes can also make up their own stories to read this way.

It is best to hold the iPad or iPad mini in portrait mode for doing Elementary PR. The reason for this is that you will not have to change the page as often as if you were in landscape mode.

The best approach by far is to use both your fingers and a Bluetooth keyboard. This will enable you or your child to focus much more on reading. Using just your fingers is slow, tiring (as you have to keep raising your hands and arm), and blocks the text you are looking at (when you are touching the screen). With a Bluetooth keyboard there are no wires and easy operation. Most of the time you just keep a finger over the forward arrow key and press it to have the next line read when ready. Thus you never block the text and your arms don’t get tired, and you can go much faster, and read with much higher concentration.

Here are the key features in Teaching Elementary Reading with PR:

  1. 1.The text is presented not only one sentence at a time, with a blank line before the next sentence, but there is a blank line after each semi-colon and comma. Thus the student reads one punctuation interval at a time. The text can also be presented one phrase at a time (one phrase per line), and the phrase can be read out as an entity, or one word at a time. As with older students, the font size is large.

  2. 2.The student tries to read the first section of text, then presses on the line, or a key, when ready to hear the sound.

  3. 3.The student listens carefully to the sound.

  4. 4.If a mistake has been made between what the student said and heard, the student echoes the correct sound. The student can go through the phrase word by word if necessary, repeating difficult words as often as necessary.

  5. 5.The student then re-reads the passage smoothly, then listens to the sound again, or speaks in chorus with the sound.

  6. 6.This process is repeated until the student has read the highlighted text smoothly. No text is left without having been mastered. There is no build up of mistakes. There is no anxiety because the answer and help for each section of text is immediate. The student knows this, as as an additional consequence, feels free to try to read the text correctly, without wild guessing. The student starts to build up repetition of error free reading which reinforces itself.

  7. 7.If the student wants to hear just the first few words of a section of text read out loud, he or she can press the screen with two fingers, or press “control” on the Bluetooth keyboard to instantly pause/continue the reading as often as desired within the section.

  8. 8.The student can easily review (repeat) all the text on the screen by touching the top of the screen to hear it, and then move down a section of text (phrase or punctuation interval) at a time, by pressing the right arrow as quickly as desired.

  9. 9.When the student has read all the text on the screen, he or she uses three fingers to flick the screen to the next screen of text, or presses option and down arrow on the Bluetooth Keyboard to bring up the next screen of text. Either way, the student reads the next line of text before touching that section on the screen  to hear it read out loud.

  10. 10.Ideally the iPad or iPad mini is used, so that several sentences can be seen at one time on the screen. This makes it possible to easily re-read several lines. It also means that you do not have to keep changing the screen content.

  11. 11.The student works independently each day for at least 20 minutes reading on his or her own, with the voice assistance.

  12. 12.At least once or twice a week, a coach or teacher sits with the student to coach the reading. The coach/teacher gives tips to the student as the student reads a highlighted section of text, and before the student presses for the sound. Coaching sessions are 40 minutes long for elementary and middle school students. The Coach not only works on improving decoding, automaticity and fluency, but on correcting the 18 Bad Reading Habits and transferring the 23 Basic Comprehension Skills, as the student is ready.

  13. 13.As soon as the student is able, he or she starts to read complete sentences at a time.

  14. 14.When the student is able to read sentences correctly and smoothly ahead of the sound, the coach/teacher transitions the student to begin advanced training with Proportional Reading, as described in the rest of this manual.


The best way to present the text is to format and paginate it on a word processor (on a Mac or PC) and then save the text as an HTML document, saved in dropbox. This way a teacher can easily get material to the student’s iPhone or iPad. The student in turn opens Dropbox on his or her iPad, or iPad mini, or iPhone, or iPod Touch, or Mac laptop, or Mac desktop and reads the text with VoiceOver. These articles in Dropbox can also be read offline, where there is no WiFi or Internet. These articles in Dropbox also allow you to pick up where you left off, or start wherever you want, without having to begin at the beginning of the article every time you turn VoiceOver on. This makes a big difference on longer chapters.

Notes on Controls

Setup and controls are the same as for older students, but the controls are used slightly differently.

Once you locate your article to read in Dropbox, go to where you want to start (often where you left off).

Next, turn VoiceOver on.

Now, read a section of text (often just a line) out loud, without any sound assistance.

Next, when you are ready, tap this line of text on the screen, and you will hear it read out loud. You only tap the top line on the screen.

Then you or your child proceeds to the next section of text and tries to read this text out loud.

Now, when ready, the student just presses the forward arrow to hear the text read out loud.

You repeat pressing the forward arrow as you proceed down the page.

To repeat a section of text as often as you want, press the left arrow (also called back arrow) and then quickly press the right arrow (also called forward arrow).

When you get to the bottom of the page, press option and down arrow to move to the next page.

Now read the top line of text and then press your finger on it when ready to listen.

Handling Split Text

Occasionally a section of text will be split at the bottom of the page and you will not be able to read it all. There is an easy fix for this situation. Press option and down arrow to go to the next screen of text. When ready, tap the first full section of text on the new screen, and then tap the left arrow (back arrow) twice. You will hear the last line of text re-read and then you will see the new section of text in full view. Proceed as before down the page.


Make sure you have QuickNav on.

Make sure your speaker or earphone volume is up. If you can not hear the sound it may be because you have earphones plugged in, and are not listening to them.

Changing the speed of the voice is the same as before.