It’s not uncommon for young readers to need help following the words in a book from left to right without losing their spot. Their eyes have to be trained to hold onto a single line of text. This takes practice.
To aid students, teachers often provide them with a tracking tool such as a ruler or index card. The idea is that students would place the tracking tool just below the line of text they are reading.
However, this tracking strategy creates a problem for many students’ fluency. When they reach the end of the line of text, regardless of whether the sentence concludes or goes on to the next line, students are taking a long pause. Why? So they can move their tracking tool down. This pause causes students to break their fluency. And even more important, it’s impeding the development of their natural eye sweep.
Try this strategy instead — have students put their tracking tool just ABOVE the current line of text. Then, when they approach the end of the line, their eyes can sweep to the next line without an obstacle covering it up. They can simultaneously move their tracking tool down one line as they continue reading the text.
Great Comments from Teachers:
I place a piece of highlighter tape across a clear transparency. Then students place the transparency on top of the pages they are reading. This allows them to either read above, below, or through the tape since the highlighter tape is transparent enough to see through.
Is there any statistical evidence that shows tracking words while reading improves comprehension?
Smekens Education consultant and reading expert Kristi McCullough shared the following: