First off, what is reading fluency—and why does it matter?
According to the Primary National Strategy (2006), reading fluency is the ability to read
In order for students to be fluent and independent readers, they need to achieve automaticity. That means reading about 80 words correct per minute using an age appropriate text. Reading expressively means that students use an easy pace and understand the text enough to add inflection, proper pauses, and pitch and volume changes when reading aloud.
Reading fluency relates to reading comprehension. You can read a good discussion of the correlation between fluency and comprehension in Read About It: Scientific Evidence for Effective Teaching of Reading, a 2016 report by Kerry Hempenstall.
Effective reading fluency strategies
Given the importance of reading fluency and the challenges many students face, effective reading fluency strategies are critical. Try these teaching strategies to help your students develop reading fluency.
1. Repeated reading
Here are two different versions of repeated reading to try.
Short and Speed Up
Read the same short text (about 100–200 words) a number of times. Each time the student reads the text again, they should increase their speed until they reach a set benchmark, e.g. 20% improvement.
I read, we read, you read.
Give the student a chopstick and then have them point to the words and follow along as you read the page. Then read the page together, again with the student following along with the chopstick. Finally, have the student read the page independently.
This progression allows the student to hear what fluent and expressive reading sounds like, then practice with support and finally try independently.
2. Reading fluency boards
Fluency boards are great for targeting particular words, such as those you are focusing on for any reason or those that a student 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 can use 20 different words, or as in this example, repeat words. Here I’ve chosen 5 words focusing on the digraph “ck.” Each row contains the same 5 words in a different order.
To use the fluency board, 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. Reading fluency monitoring
Teaching and practicing reading fluency is one thing. Keeping kids motivated and tracking their progress is another. Using a reading fluency monitoring graph creates a fun, visual way for students to see how far they’ve come. Here’s the graph I like to use with students:
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.
Students can track their fluency progress over time. You can use this tracking in conjunction with goal setting activities as well, where students set fluency targets that they would like to achieve.
Get your free reading fluency activities
To receive free printables of the reading fluency board and monitoring graph, just fill in the form below so I know where to send it! You’ll also get the instructions from this article so you have all the information you need to implement these reading fluency activities with your students.