"Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and quickly. When fluent readers read silently, they recognize words automatically. They group words quickly to help them gain meaning from what they read. Fluent readers read aloud effortlessly and with expression. Their reading sounds natural, as if they were speaking." Put Reading First, p. 22
- Focus their attention on making connections among ideas in the text and their background knowledge
- Recognize words and comprehend at the same time
- Divide words into meaningful chunks so that they are able to read with expression
- Score higher on comprehension assessments
- Focus their attention primarily on decoding individual sounds or words
- Spend their energies trying to “figure out” the words not the meaning
- Read in a slow, deliberate, and labored manner often pausing at inappropriate places Score lower on comprehension assessments
Fluency and automaticity are often interchanged, however they are not the same thing.
Fluency means reading with accuracy, pacing (automaticity), and expression (prosody). "The fluent reader sounds good, is easy to listen to, and reads with enough expression to help the listener understand and enjoy the material." (Clark, Read All About It, p. 282)
Automaticity is the fast, effortless recognition of words that comes with a great deal of reading practice. "As a result of extended practice, an important change takes place: students learn to decode the printed words using significantly less attention. Because they require so little attention for word recognition, they have enough left over for comprehension." (Samuels, Schermer, Reinking, Read All About It, p. 269)
Prosody is the ability to read in a manner that sounds like normal speech. Voice intonation and expression needs to mirror normal speech.
What does scientifically-based reading research tell us about fluency instruction? (From Put Reading First, pp. 21-31 and Read All About It, pp. 251-287)
- Repeated and monitored oral reading substantially improves word recognition, speed, and accuracy
- Repeated and monitored oral reading also improves reading comprehension
- Round-robin reading (students taking turns reading) does not increase fluency; there is too little actual reading time during round-robin reading sessions
- Repeated oral reading improves the reading ability of all students throughout the elementary school years
- Repeated oral reading helps struggling readers at higher grade levels
How can you help your students become more fluent readers?
- Provide students with models of fluent reading -- read aloud to your students
- Have students repeatedly read passages as you offer guidance -- one-to-one teacher-student reading
- Combine reading instruction with opportunities for students to read books that are at their independent level of reading ability
- Text they can read with a high degree of success (with no more than 1 error in every 20 words)
- Relatively short passages -- 50 - 200 words
- A variety of reading materials: stories, nonfiction, poetry
- Use different approaches to practice fluency: partner reading; student-to-adult reading; choral reading; tape-assisted reading; readers' theatre
- Monitor your students' progress in fluency
- Remember, fluency practice isn't just about speed. Practice doesn't make it perfect -- perfect practice makes it perfect!
- Many teachers are doing one-minute "quick reads" several times a day (after the flag salute, immediately after morning recess, immediately after lunch, and at the end of the day). The classroom teacher listens to a different student during each one-minute read during the day, offering corrective feedback when necessary.
- Students are charting and graphing their weekly progress
- A daily "Must Do" activity is Partner Reading: partners time one-minute reads during Universal Access time
- Fluency practice passages can be assigned as homework with parents charting and graphing students progress
REMEMBER: Assessing fluency is not enough. If during fluency assessment you discover your students have decoding, syllabication, or other word recognition problems, then reteaching of those skills needs to occur.
Do you need a way for your students to record their repeated readings? Here are a couple of things that might help.
Reader's Library/Theme Paperback Book Log
Phonics Library/I Love Reading Books Book Log
Repeated Reading Fluency Reading Log
NEW! Check out the new cummulative letter-sound practice pages on the Kindergarten Idea Sharing page.
The parent letters below provide a means to communicate your students' fluency progress after each Theme Assessment to parents.
First Grade, English First Grade, Spanish
Second Grade, Engish Second Grade, Spanish
Third Grade, English Third Grade, Spanish
Fourth Grade, English Fourth Grade, Spanish
Fifth Grade, English Fifth Grade, Spanish
Sixth Grade, English Sixth Grade, Spanish
This link will give you five different lowercase and five different uppercase letter naming/letter sounds fluency practice sheets. They can be used for homework practice (Parent signature space is included) or for paired classroom practice. Remember: Fluent decoding depends on fluent letter-sound recognition.
Letter fluency practice pages
Do your kindergartners need practice with the high frequency words? If so, the pages below might be useful!
High Frequency Word Practice -- Kindergarten Words
Sally Shaywitz, in her book Overcoming Dyslexia, recommends that students practice reading word-pair combinations that might be problematic. Carol Jeanson, Literacy Coach at Bonita School, created these
Word Pair lists: Word Pairs: Verb changed to Verb + -ing
Word Pairs: Short vowel words changed to Long vowel words