with Reading Fluency Activities
You can bridge the gap from phonics to comprehension using reading fluency activities. These fun and effective reading strategies help students learn to read smoothly with more expression and better understanding.
I know first hand that many students read slowly, robotically, and one word at a time. These students don’t understand the meaning, and you want strategies for reading comprehension. I suggest that you include some fluency lessons within your reading block.
Fluency isn’t just reading fast. It includes accuracy in word recognition, automatic word recognition, and expressive, interpretive phrasing. Fluent oral reading sounds natural. When a student reads fluently, attention is on meaning instead of on decoding words.
In order to read fluently, readers must read in meaningful phrases. They pause at appropriate places and at ends of sentences. They also emphasize certain words and vary the tone.
Reading fluency isn’t a stage of development. It depends on the reading level of the text as well as how well a student is familiar with the words. Have you ever heard a fluent reader try to read highly technical words or even Old Testament biblical names? Somehow the reader isn’t quite as fluent!
If you are looking for research based reading fluency activities or reading intervention programs, fluency has plenty of research backing. You can find research information from the 2000 National Reading Panel. And the research reveals the relationship between fluency and reading comprehension.
Dr. Timothy Rasinski has conducted much research on fluency and has suggested many reading fluency activities. You can find some of his ideas on the web, including a
list of good books
for fluency practice.
The main reading fluency activities involve
Repeated reading .
First, make sure that smooth, expressive reading is modeled to your students. Read aloud daily!
Reading aloud improves comprehension, vocabulary, and builds motivation.
Ask adult volunteers to come to the class and read aloud. Make sure parents and other family members are reading aloud to their children.
The next important step with reading fluency activities is to model the reading of a text and then have the students reread it . Do you know the minimum number of times a student should read something in order to read fluently? FOUR TIMES.
What should your students read for practice? Short, easy, independent level text are best for reading fluency activities. This means reading with 95% success, or no more than encountering 1 in 20 difficult words. Anything more difficult will cause the student to focus more on word decoding than on developing fluency. When doing paired reading with an adult, you can use instructional level text. This means reading with 90-95% success, or no more than 1 in 10 difficult words.
It also means using passages with 50—200 words. Use fiction, nonfiction, and poetry with your reading fluency activities. Songs, skits, stories, and speeches all lend themselves well for practice reading and fluency.
The following are types of repeated reading with some example lessons.
1. STUDENT-ADULT READING
If you want an effective reading intervention strategy, use this type of paired reading for 6 straight weeks. Each session should be 10-20 minutes long. This type of reading helps with word recognition and provides feedback.
The adult can be teacher, parent, classroom aide, or tutor. Basically, either the two read aloud together, or the adult reads first for modeling, then the student reads the same passage to the adult. The adult assists and encourages. The text is read 3-4 times.
The two should sit side by side in chairs, sharing the text. As they read, it is important that the student read every word. Pointing to every word or using a card helps with this.
The adult should read at the child’s rate or just slightly faster to gently lead the child. The adult can also change tone or volume to provide more vocal cues in harder parts. Conversely, a softer voice can be used when the text is easier or when less support is needed on repeated readings.
When the student makes a mistake with a word, just say the word correctly and have the child reread the word. Then keep reading. Don’t stop for instruction on the word. Doing so would break up the fluency. Instead, come back to the word at the end and talk about the word or do some more in depth word work.
You can show excitement and interest in what you’re reading and also discuss the text. Just don’t stop in the middle of a passage. This breaks the flow that you are trying to practice.
I use a similar instruction when I meet one on one with my first grade students. This type of reading fluency activity is integrated into our reading intervention model. I find it effective for about 75% of my lower skilled students.
The student reads aloud in unison with an accomplished reader. At a student signal, the higher reader stops reading, while the student continues reading. When the student makes a reading error, the higher reader begins again reading in unison.
A 50-200 word selection from a reading text, poem, or song
1. Sit with student in a quiet location. Position the book selected for the reading session so that both you and student can easily follow the text.
2. Say,” Now we’re going to read aloud together for a little while. Whenever you want to read alone, just tap the back of my hand like this (demonstrate), and I will stop reading. If you come to a word you don’t know, I’ll tell you the word and begin reading with you again.
3. Begin reading aloud with student. If student misreads a word, point to the word and pronounce it. Have student repeat the word. When the student reads the word correctly, resume reading through the passage.
4. When child taps your hand, stop reading and follow along silently as the student continues with oral reading. Praise the student in specific terms for good reading.
5. If child makes a reading error, skips a word or line, or hesitates longer than 5 seconds, point to the error-word and pronounce it. Then tell the student to say the word. When the student pronounces the word correctly, begin reading aloud again in unison with the student.
6. Continue reading aloud with the student until he or she again signals to read alone.
Reference: Toppng, K. (1987). Paired reading: A powerful technique for parent use. Reading Teacher
2. CHORAL READING
In these reading fluency activities, students read in unison as a group along with an adult. Everyone is looking at the same text. This could be a big book, something on the overhead, or a copy handed out to each person. Choral reading provides support and scaffolding. It provides much more reading opportunity for each student than if each person read one at a time. It can also build community for both the low and high readers.
Although this type of reading is often used at the primary level, don’t ignore it in the older grades. As an adult, I have attended workshops where we have had a lot of fun with choral reading of songs and interesting poetry. Just because you may teach high school doesn’t mean this is for “babies”! Your students would have a great time and learn something, too!
The text should be at an independent to instructional level. It also shouldn’t be too long. Something that’s predictable or repetitious is always a good choice.
First, read aloud for modeling. Then ask students to join you. Read 3-5 times, possibly spreading this over several days. Examples are reciting something like the Pledge of Allegiance while reading it or singing a patriotic song with the words.
Here are some types of choral reading with SAMPLE LESSONS:
One person reads most of the text and the rest of the group reads other key parts together.
A song or poem with repeated choruses, such as “Things”, by Eloise Greenfield , “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service, “Look in a Book”, by Ivy O. Eastwick
1. Provide a way for every student to see all the words of the text, i.e. overhead, copies for each, etc.
2. Read through the entire text for the students. Model expression, volume, and other traits of fluent reading.
3. Have you and all students read the text in unison.
4. Ask students to find 3 unknown words or interesting words. Discuss the meaning and/or highlight these words. Write synonyms above the words or in the margins.
5. Ask a strong reader to read the “verses” alone. Then everyone join in on the refrain or repeated lines.
6. Reread on subsequent days. If you use a song, begin your day or possibly break up your day by singing the song in this fashion.
7. As students learn the poem, invite weaker readers to join the strong reader on the verses.
Cumulative Choral Reading
One student or several students reads a line or passage. Then another reader or readers join in on the next part. Continue adding readers until the end when everyone is reading. Use speeches or passages like the Preamble to the Constitution. A crescendo of voices creates a pretty cool effect!
A variation is to begin with all voices, gradually eliminating groups. End with one or two students reading.
This is like the choral reading. For these reading fluency activities, you can find songs that connect to units in social studies, times in history, or even math facts. It’s fun and gets the endorphins going for a happier learning environment. First teach the song. Repeat the reading/singing of the lyrics. Break up the verses and sing in a refrain repeated reading or cumulative choral reading. After the song is learned, just have the kids read the lines. You can use words in the songs as a basis for word work.
3. TAPE-ASSISTED READING
Reading fluency activities that use tape-assisted reading allows students to work independently and have the benefit of hearing a fluent reader.
A book and recording of the book that is at the student’s independent reading level. The fluent reader should be reading at about 80-100 words per minute. The tape shouldn’t have any sound effects or music.
1. Student listens to the tape while following along in the book. The student should point to words while following.
2. Student reads the book aloud along with the recording.
3. Repeat reading until the student can read the book without the support of the recording.
4. PARTNER READING
Students read to each other from the same text. You can pair a more fluent reader with a less fluent one. The stronger reader reads a passage or part of it first. Then the less fluent reader reads the same passage aloud. The stronger reader can help by encouraging and by helping out with words. Repeat the reading until both students can read it independently.
You can even pair up students who are at the same reading level. They can use a story that you have already instructed them on. After they’ve heard you read it fluently, they can continue the repeated reading with each other.
5. READERS' THEATER
These reading fluency activities use scripts for the repeated readings. Your students rehearse and perform plays. It doesn’t involve costumes or sets. It’s just a rehearsed reading that is performed like an old radio show.
Readers’ Theater gives the students a purpose for practicing fluency. It helps kids cooperate and makes reading fun.
You can find scripts for Readers’ Theater on the web. Check out
Aaron Sheperd’s website
for some excellent scripts and ideas.
Reading fluency activities can be fun and used as reading intervention strategies. Improve your students’ comprehension with teaching reading fluency activities!
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