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At School: Fast and Focused Fluency

Fluency and comprehension go hand-in-hand. Research shows that there is a clear link between fluency and higher levels of comprehension, even with middle and high school students (Paige, Rasinski, and Magpuri-Lavell, 2012). Students who read with expression show their comprehension of the text.

Here are a couple fun ways to add in some quick fluency practice. Personally, I make sure to do at least one activity that focuses primarily on fluency in the week, and I have seen a definite improvement in my own students.

1. Choral reading: Structured choral readings teach fluency in a safe environment, since no one is singled out and all are participating.

Step 1: Choose a short text, preferably from the curriculum, that is fun to read. (100-150 words of poetry, prose, scientific writing, drama, short story, etc.)

Step 2: Give each student a copy and go over difficult vocab, relevancy of the piece, and any other important content related to the piece.

Step 3: Explain that when someone reads using proper expression this shows they truly understand the literature.

Step 4: Read aloud once to model (be sure to practice first).

Step 5: Discuss the ways the reading was expressive.

Step 6: Count down (3, 2, 1) and have the entire class do a choral reading (all at once).

Step 7: Discuss rough areas and repeat. One idea is to record the first and last choral reading and compare.

2. Personal Charts: My students never forget to remind me to do our weekly fluency charts! They love to beat their own record and monitor their growth.

Step 1: Find a one page nonfiction passage to use with this activity. It's best to prepare this ahead of time with line by line word counts for easy scoring. Just copy and paste into Google Docs or Word, highlight one line at a time, and use the word count tool. Should take less than five minutes, once you get the hang of it. (I recommend about that they are about 250-300 words of non-fiction, considering the rates of your best readers in class. I prefer non-fiction, so we can all get the practice and learn something new.)

Step 2: Ask some pre-reading questions to establish background knowledge (schema).

Step 3: Model proper fluency by reading the passage aloud.

Step 4: Ask students to share the main idea and important details they understood from the passage. (Comprehension is always key to any fluency instruction and practice!!) Discuss any vocabulary and have the class repeat unusual or difficult words together.

Step 5: Pair up student with similar fluency rates and reading abilities if possible. Start a timer and have students take turns reading the passage to their partners. The partner not reading should follow along and mark any errors. After one minute, ask students to provide each other feedback on any miscues and number of words they read.

Step 6: After each person has been timed, have student add their correct words per minute to a personal reading chart. The firs time they read should be the baseline and set up their chart.

The beauty of this system is that everyone's chart is different and private, since the baseline is put in the same location on the grid. Students are monitoring their own rate of growth!

Paige, D. D., Rasinski, T. V., & Magpuri-Lavell, T. (2012). Is Fluent, Expressive Reading

Important for High School Readers?. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(1), 67-76.


Who dares to teach

must never cease to learn.

~John Cotton Dana

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