Using Fluency Instruction to Improve the Small Skills - The Autism Helper

Using Fluency Instruction to Improve the Small Skills

I’m sure you all are freaken tired of hearing about fluency instruction. I wish I could say I’m sick of talking about it but you know that would be a lie. Fluency instruction is near and dear to my heart. I love the ease of setting up a new program. I love how efficiently data can be taken. And I love, love, love the almost immediate impact I see throughout a range of skill sets.

I have been sharing some of the out of the box ways to utilize fluency instruction over the past few weeks. I shared categorizing fluency, nonverbal fluency, advanced fluency programs, and my fluency mega pack which ties it all together with a pretty, sparkly bow. Here’s another one to add to the list. Use fluency instruction to improve common errors your students display that are impeding their progress on other bigger tasks. These small skills (component skills) are halting you student’s progress on a the big task (composite skill. A quick set of fluency cards is a quick and mighty remedy. Let me show ya:

Math: We have been working on subtraction with and without regrouping. There are loads of component skills included in this overarching composite task. In order to do this your student must be able to subtract single digits, know where to start the problem, and know when/how to borrow. My student were really struggling on know when to borrow. If the first problem on the page had borrowing – they went ahead and borrow for every one. And vice versus. My little guys kept consistently telling me they could do 0-6 just because the previous problem had no regrouping involved. We needed to scale back. Fluency to the rescue.

I created a set of fluency flashcards for single digit subtraction… but about a third of these cards had problems the students cannot do (ie. 2-7, 4-8, etc.). The idea is that if the student became fluent at identifying these problems within the fluency instruction, they will more readily identify those problems while completing a more complex subtraction problem. As they flip through the set, the student says the answers to the subtraction problems and when they come to one they can’t do – they say, “No” or “can’t do it.” I have seen immediate effects within the composite skill of completing multiple digit problems with and without regrouping. And I mean immediate.

The Autism Helper - Fluency

Reading: A few weeks ago I had a joyous morning where I only had one little guy in one of my guided reading groups. I love those unexpected opportunities to focus in on one student in a meaningful way. While using my Guided Reading Data sheet, I noticed a disturbing pattern in his reading. He missed almost all of the inflected endings through much of what he read. Many students with autism have difficulty with speech and this particular student also has speech apraxia. Speech is difficult for him but I realized we need to really target saying the entire word.

The Autism Helper - Fluency

We created a set of fluency flashcards of words with inflected endings (s, ed, ing). Words were only counted correctly that he said completely. And man – this kiddo hates to be wrong. Again – I saw immediate effects in his reading abilities outside of the fluency center.

The Autism Helper - Fluency

Moral of the story: utilize fluency instruction for problems that are specifically an issue for your student. The repetitive practice and focus on speed and accuracy will help your student develop a skill that is functional and fluent!

Sasha Long
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  1. I am definitely NOT tired of hearing about fluency instruction! 🙂 These posts have been extremely informative and helpful! Thanks so much!

  2. Seeing different fluency ideas are very helpful. Thank you!

  3. Sasha,

    During your guided reading groups, what do you do for students that are still working on letter/sound recognition or for the ones that are non-verbal?

  4. We do discrete trial for letter identification and sight word identification.


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