Today we’re sharing ten ways to improve reading fluency!
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We talk a lot about the importance of phonics.
We’re always on the hunt for sight word activities.
And we know that comprehension deserves major attention.
What about fluency?
Reading fluency is an essential element of reading instruction in K-2. Today we’ll talk about ten ways to improve it.
What is reading fluency?
Reading fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression.
Do you know a reader who struggles with fluency?
He. reads. every. word. like. this.
Or maybe you know a reader who trips over words. To her, reading is awkward and painful.
I personally know a reader (right in my own house) who reads automatically and with little stumbling. But he readslikethiswithoutabreath. I have to remind him to read with expression, to pay attention to punctuation, and to read with inflection in his voice.
Why is fluency important?
Whether our learners read haltingly, stumble over words, or read without expression, comprehension suffers.
Better fluency leads to greater understanding.
10 Ways to improve reading fluency
1. Read aloud to children to provide a model of fluent reading.
It’s common for primary teachers to read aloud to their students. But as students get older, the treasured Read Aloud becomes something we do “if we have time.”
A regular read aloud period is a must in any elementary classroom. No matter their age or ability, children need a frequent model of fluent reading. Not sure what to read? My go-to resource for book lists is What Do We Do All Day.
2. Have children listen and follow along with audio recordings.
A large listening library is ideal. If your school’s budget doesn’t allow it, borrow audio books from the library and place them in your listening center. Some teachers even record themselves as they read aloud to their class – then they place the recording in the listening center.
3. Practice sight words using playful activities.
When children know many words by sight, they’re less likely to be awkward, choppy readers. I prefer games over flash cards. Thankfully, This Reading Mama and I have many ideas and printables to help you out!
- Printable sight word list
- 25 low-prep sight word activities
- Sight word action cards
- Roll & write sight words
- Sight words rhyming game
- Sight word Blackout
Also read: Sight Words: When they just don’t stick
4. Let children perform a reader’s theater.
Reader’s theater requires no set or costumes and is a fantastic way to improve fluency. Children take turns reading their parts from a script and bring the text alive through their voices.
To create a script, create an original play with speaking parts or adapt a familiar story by typing it up into several speaking parts.
Looking for free done-for-you scripts? Get them here!
5. Do paired reading.
Some teachers have made paired reading (also called “buddy reading”) a daily practice within their literacy block.
To do paired reading, put students in pairs and have them read to each other. Pair more fluent readers with less fluent readers, but be careful not to make the ability gap too great. Children can take turns reading by sentence, paragraph, or page.
In a one-on-one situation, the adult and child can take turns reading.
Also read: How to use paired reading
6. Try echo reading.
With echo reading, the teacher displays an enlarged text so that students can follow along. This might be a Big Book or a text displayed on an interactive white board. The teachers often points to words as she reads a sentence or short paragraph. Then she points to the words again as students echo her reading.
When I was in graduate school I tutored a (very) tall sixteen-year-old who was reading at a second grade level. In his spare time he would much rather listen to rap than open a book.
I brought a book of Shel Silverstein poetry to our session, and together we did an echo reading of a funny poem. As he felt his reading grow stronger, this towering football player began enjoying himself. “This is tight!”
7. Do choral reading.
With choral reading the teacher reads an enlarged text several times until students are familiar with it. Then the class joins her as they read the text together. Nursery rhymes, songs, and funny poems are fantastic for choral reading.
8. Do repeated reading.
Echo reading and choral reading are both forms of repeated reading. Repeated reading is also something that students can do individually.
Choose a short passage of 100-200 words. Students can read the same passage multiple times. Have them time their reading and graph their results to see a visual record of improvement. A variation is to set a timer for 1-2 minutes and have students record how many words they read during each reading. Again, use a graph to chart progress.
9. Practice “scooping” phrases.
While we encourage beginning readers to point to each word as they read, this is something we want our readers to grow out of. Enter scooping phrases! Simply write a short passage on paper. Then guide your learner as he reads the passage and draws curved lines under each phrase. I highly recommend This Reading Mama’s done-for-you pack!
10. Have your students do a lot of reading – at a level they can read independently.
The more we practice, the better at something we get. Make sure your readers are reading at their independent reading level, and give them at least 20 minutes each school day to read on their own.
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