Recently I came across a research report by Kerry Hempenstall that discusses the teaching of reading. The report talks about the five essential components of reading instruction and shares some of the evidence that explicit or direct instruction is the most effective teaching method for reading.
The 5 components include:
- Phonemic awareness;
- Vocabulary; and
There are many interesting facts and statistics in the report, but it also got me thinking more about the component of fluency.
What is reading fluency?
I’ve written a little bit about fluency before and offered some activities that I have used to help my students develop their reading fluency.
Reading fluency is the ability to read accurately, quickly and expressively (Primary National Strategy, 2006).
Many of the students I work with have difficulty with accurate and fluent reading. You have probably also noticed that beginning readers have difficulty with fluent reading as they are heavily focused on decoding the text.
In order for students to achieve automaticity (so to be fluent and independent readers) they need to achieve about 80 words correct per minute using an age appropriate text.
Why is reading fluency important?
The report discusses how oral reading is related to reading comprehension and shares some of the research that shows correlations between fluency and comprehension.
For students reading above 110 words correct per minute, the majority passed the comprehension tests. Page 16 of the report presents more statistics on the link between fluency and comprehension.
Fluency teaching strategies
So I wanted to share some other effective teaching strategies that you can use to help your students develop reading fluency.
1. Repeated reading
There are a few different ways to implement repeated reading activities. One way is to read the same text a number of times. The report suggests that the texts should be brief, only 100-200 words.
Each time the text is re-read the student increases their speed until they reach a set benchmark, e.g. 20% improvement.
Another way to implement repeated reading is to use the model: I read, we read, you read.
I use this quite a lot with my Little Miss 5. I give her a chopstick and then I get her to point to the words and follow along as I read the page.
Next we read the page together, again with her following along with the chopstick.
And finally she reads the page independently. This allows her to hear what fluent and expressive reading sounds like, then she gets to have a go with support and finally has a go on her own.
2. Fluency boards
I like to use the idea of a fluency board to help target those words that you may be focusing on or that students find particularly difficult, such as the high frequency words.
As you can see in the example below, the board has space for 20 words. You could also use this with 20 different words, or any number of a combination of words. For the example below I’ve only chosen 5 words and repeated those words on each line, but in a different order. The focus is the digraph ‘ck’.
Time your students for 30 seconds and see how many words they can read in that time. If they finish reading the board, then they read it again until the time is up. Get them to record how many words they read in the time.
3. Fluency monitoring
A fun way to track improvement is to use a graph. Across the bottom you include which words/passage were used and the date. Up the side you have the number of words read correctly in the given time.
This is a fantastic visual way that your students can track their fluency progress over time. The fluency monitoring could then lead to goal setting activities, where students set fluency targets that they would like to achieve.
Get your free fluency activities
If you would like a copy of the fluency board and monitoring document, fill in the form below so I know where to send it. The freebie also includes the instructions from this article so it’s all together.
FREE Fluency Activities
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