As students move through the primary grades, they should move from learning to read to reading to learn. Students who struggle with fluency have difficulty reading to learn because they simply aren't fluent readers yet. Fluency is not the only characteristic of a successful reader but the research is plentiful showing its importance. Students who can read fluently are able to focus their cognitive efforts on comprehending and interacting with the text. Are you looking for easy ways to improve fluency levels in your class? Check out these tips....
Model Fluent Reading
It may seem obvious, but a reminder to model fluent reading is always a good idea. Students must hear fluent reading often to understand what it sounds like. It is much easier for students to become fluent readers when they hear fluent reading often. Make sure to use as much expression as possible when reading It is helpful to expose students to a wide variety of genres. After reading, ask your students what they heard in your reading is a characteristic of a good reader. Allow them to discuss their ideas with a partner.
Have Students Read Everything Out Loud
Looking for a totally effortless way to improve fluency? Start having your students read everything possible out loud during the day. What can they read? The possibilities are endless....Morning message, math problems, directions to assignments, etc. Especially in first and second grade, I would encourage you to limit the number of times you have students read in their heads when they could be reading out loud and improving fluency. If you were able to work in the opportunity for your students to just read five sentences out loud with you per day, that's almost 1,000 sentences read fluent during the year.
One of the most effective ways to improve fluency is through repeated readings. Repeated reading allow students frequent access to high frequency words and content vocabulary. The more times a student is exposed to a word, the more comfortable they are. Here a couple of ideas that have been successful in my class.
Each student has a two pocket poetry folder. We add 2-3 poems to our poetry folder each week. When I pass out a new poem, I read the poem aloud to the students first. Then, we chorally read the poem. If time allows, we will chorally read the last 1-3 poems added to the folder for additional practice. During independent reading time or literacy stations, students are able to read their choice of poems from the folder. I talk up the importance of the poetry folder and for the most part the kids take excellent care of them and they last all year.
Fluency Practice in the Content Areas
I take absolutely every chance I can to integrate reading throughout the day. The more reading practice that I can work in, the better readers my students will become.
I create fluency practice strips to go along with units of study. Students are able to practice fluent reading while reinforcing skills and content in other areas. By doing this, you help to develop fluency and content vocabulary at the same time. You can download this set of fluency strips to use in your classroom FREE HERE.
If you would like to using fluency strips throughout the year, be sure to check out this Money Saving BUNDLE.
Reader's Theater is another fun way to develop reading fluency. Students do not need to memorize their parts like they would for a more traditional play. In fact, it is best if they don't memorize their parts. Students will work with a partner or in a small group and take turns orally reading their parts.
When looking for reader's theater scripts for your class, look for ones with a lot of natural dialogue. I have found it best to try and limit the number of lines any one reader reads at one time. This helps improve student engagement by limiting the amount of time the other students are waiting for their turn. Always allow students to perform the reader's theater more than once. The first time through a script, it is likely they will be struggling with words and understanding the play. With each reread, the students are able to enjoy their roles and the entire play more and more. There are a plethora of reader's theater scripts available for free. Just do a google search for "free reader's theater scripts" and you will find plenty to get you started.
Each week, students practice fluency using a voice recorder. I have six iPad minis in my class. I have installed this voice recording app that is free from the App Store.
If you don't have iPads, any voice recording software will work. One of the weekly tasks at our fluency practice station is to read the passage(s) of the week three times to prepare for recording. Then, the students record themselves reading it. The students LOVE listening back to themselves read the passage. I actually have the students listen to their own reading at least twice. The first time, they just listen. The second time, they are looking for two things they did well on and one thing they could work on. I have the students record their reflections on post it notes to add to their reading journals. Once they have completed their reflections, they are able to record themselves a second time and listen for improvements.
I know that there is much more to reading than fluency. However, as a reading specialist that works with struggling readers all day, I know that it is an important component to developing a successful reader. If you are looking for other ideas for improving fluency in your classroom, check out these posts.
Did you grab your FREEBIE? If not, you can give fluency strips a try in your class by clicking on the image above.
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