Reading Fluency Activities

› Fluency Activities

Reading fluency activities must be done on a daily basis.  Becoming a fluent reader means you can decode quickly, use prosody and have strategies for improving comprehension.

Within a literacy framework, there are best teaching practices that are implemented which are good for all kids, or Tier 1 RTI. These strategies include fluency work as a part of the goal of becoming a strategic reader.

reading fluency activities

Fluency is the "bridge" between decoding and comprehension and improved reading fluency is the strongest predictor of increasing reading comprehension.

There are three main components of reading fluency:

  1. The ability to decode words accurately
  2. Being able to decode without needing other resources
  3. The use of prosody (being able to show meaning and expression - you can't do this if you don't understand the text)

We have to teach students to decode so that all words become automatic and they start making deep connections to the text.

Assessing Reading Fluency

Research has proven that a child's fluency level is an almost certain predictor of later reading success.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), found that nearly half of American fourth graders had not achieved a minimal level of fluency in their reading, and this was associated with significant difficulties in comprehension while reading silently (Pinnell et al., 1995).

Using reading tests like DIBELS benchmark assessments, teachers can diagnostically interpret data to guide development of reading fluency activities for their students. However, keep in mind this does not replace teacher observation and knowledge about the student.

If a student scores 10 or more words below the 50th percentile level in two or more cold-readings from grade level text, then that student needs fluency interventions.

Teaching Fluency

Try a fun and motivating reading fluency and comprehension idea called Reading Karate.

Be prepared though -
your students will become voracious readers just to get to their black belts. 

Becoming a better reader was never so much fun!

Paired Reading

Paired reading is when a struggling student reads aloud in unison with a tutor or teacher ("benchmark" refers to a student who has met or exceeded fluency goals). When the student is ready, he or she is to signal that s/he feels ready to read alone. The key to this is the corrective feedback that must occur.

The tutor will wait for the student to signal that s/he needs help with a word. If the student does not know the word, the tutor will provide it. If the student misreads a word, the tutor is to point to it and pronounce it. If the student makes an error during reading and does not recognize it, the tutor points to the word and pronounces it. In all of these cases, the student is to repeat the word correctly, then carry on reading.

Repeated Readings

Repeated reading is one of the reading fluency activities that I use most often in my classroom. This can be done whole class, small group or individually. There are a couple of ways to do this.

1.  Short Passages

The student is given a passage that can be read with a 95% success rate consisting of approximately 150-200 words in length. This passage will be read at least 4-5 times over a few days.

As the passage is read aloud, a teacher or tutor listens carefully.  If s/he misreads or hesitates at a word, the tutor reads it aloud. If the student does not know what a word means, the tutor will define it.

Often repeated readings are done at one minute intervals. I graph the student's progress to show the improvement. This visual affirmation is important so the child can see the progress that is being made.

2.  Stories and Picture Books

Use favorite picture books and ones that you have read aloud and leave them out for further browsing and buddy reading.  You will be amazed at how often young children will return to the same books and emulate your reading style with a friend.  

Fairy tales lend themselves really well to this.  Here's a great way to teach literacy using the characteristics of fairy tales.

Teachable Poetry for Fluency and Comprehension

This is a complete book of over 120 pages of poetry, phonics and comprehension work. The poems are introduced through teacher modeling, read with students through choral and echo reading, read by students once the poem is in their poetry journal, and revisited throughout the year.

The accompanying decoding and comprehension work focuses on blends, digraphs, syllibication, rimes, vowel teams, connections to text and critical thinking.

These activities will never replace a knowledgeable and observant teacher though.

Building fluency in reading does not come from a program - it comes from real practice, real reading interventions that are proven to work...and an expert teacher like you.

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