Fluency is the ability to read with “speed, accuracy, and proper expression” (NICHD, 2000)

My main struggle when teaching reading was always comprehension. My kids and clients tended to be able to read far more complex texts than they could understand. I realized the major impact that wh- questions had on the comprehension skill but there was another critical factor that lead to the inability to understand the text – reading fluency. Research suggests that fluency is related to comprehension in that if you are spending less effort pronouncing individual words you will be more likely to understand what you are reading. (Rasinki, 2003)

This makes complete sense. If you are spending all of your brainpower sounding out each word and laboriously trudging your way through a sentence – by the time you get to the end of that sentence, you have absolutely no idea what you read. You were too focused on saying each word that you had no time to being to process what each word meant and what the words meant together.

Why Fluency is Hard For Our Kids:

  • Everyday speech may be flat, choppy, irregular phrasing, or inaccurate inflection.
  • Language rules are subtle.
  • Other students may pick up on these components through modeling.
  • Our students may benefit from direct instruction.

Fluency is not something that our kids are going to pick up through osmosis. It’s something that your students need direct instruction on. If you were like me and focusing solely on comprehension, you likely aren’t having much success if you aren’t also addressing the reading fluency needs. Working on reading fluency needs to be a major focus of your reading instruction. This week we will explore improving reading fluency through read alouds, sight word fluency, and voice recordings.

When it comes to reading fluency, your kids need:

Visual Cues

Visual cues help prompt students to focus on their fluency. Highlight where you should pause – commas, periods, etc. Circle quotes to emphasize the change in intonation.


Poetry provides opportunity to incorporate rhythm. There is a natural cadence and flow to poems that helps improve and practice correct oral reading fluency.

Silent Reading

Allows students the chance to choose books of their own interest and explore independently. Practice fluency and word attack strategies on their own. Can help develop reading as an enjoyable activity. Add structure, rules, & visuals to make it successful for your kids.

More on fluency later this week!

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