One of the top questions I get is always about how I run my math and reading rotations. As I prepare to share those formats with you, I’ll be sharing some of the components of them individually as well. Today’s topic is oral reading fluency, which is one of the very first “reading skills” I teach at the beginning of the year!
First, a little bit of background about why I insist on including oral reading fluency instruction in ALL of my elementary classrooms. Oral reading fluency is always one of my reading rotations because I so strongly believe in the importance of building fluent readers who have developed the ability to read accurately, at a natural pace, and with excellent prosody/expression.
Research shows that reading fluency is a direct indicator of comprehension success. In other words, when students can read fluently, they are significantly more likely to understand what they are reading. Multi-tasking is tough for even the most skilled readers. Building reading fluency and freeing students from the task of decoding allows them to build automaticity. This automaticity (fluency) allows readers to focus on the actual act of reading and enables them to put their energy and focus into understanding and synthesizing the text. We have to place a focus on building fluent readers if we want to build efficient readers who comprehend what they are reading.
Fluency, then, simply has to be front and center in our reading instruction. Not just in 2nd grade, not just in 3rd grade, but in 4th and 5th grade, too. The words and complexity of texts they are expected to read fluently in 2nd grade are wildly different than those in 4th and 5th grade. We can’t stop practicing! It’s our obligation to solidify these essential reading skills to set our students up for success.
But before you have students working on developing fluency, they need to know what it is, how they can improve it, and of course, what it sounds like. I truly believe that some direct instruction on reading fluency is key to student growth.
Each year, I start out with a few mini lesson on reading fluency. You could do these fluency lessons all in one day, but I find it more effective to really focus on one element of fluency each day for a week and then combine it all. These mini lessons only need to take 10 minutes with five minutes or so of practice. I use my Fluency Task Cards in all of the lessons. Since we use them so frequently in centers, it’s a good way to get them started. At the end of this post, you can get a free set of fluency task cards specifically designed to use with each of these lessons. Everything you need to implement these five days of fluency lessons is completely FREE.
|Fluency Anchor Chart|
Here is the anchor chart that we build as we learn about each element of a fluent reader. Remember to create this fluency anchor chart WITH you students. It does little good if you make it and then just hang it up one day. However, if you create it WITH them, they will know exactly what it says and know when to reference it.
If you’d like to make your anchor chart look like mine, you can download the printable elements for free HERE, but again, please make sure you make it an interactive experience with your students… especially the handwritten part!
Here is an overview of the lessons I teach each day as I introduce reading fluency.
Day 1: Accuracy
On this day, we focus on reading accurately as a component of fluency. I define that for them as:
If I’m reading accurately,
- I don’t eliminate words, word endings, or word beginnings.
- I don’t add words that don’t belong
Day 2: Expression/Prosody
On this day, we focus on reading with expression, or having excellent prosody. This is always a favorite day because we get to be a little bit silly! I define that for them as:
If I’m reading with appropriate expression,
- I don’t sound like a robot
- I rein in the dramatic actor living inside of me
- I look for commas, periods, exclamation marks, and dialogue markers
- I look for words in bold or italics to be emphasized
Day 4: Pace
- I’m not pretending to be in a speed reading competition.
- I read as though I’m having a natural conversation.
- I am always checking for understanding
- I read to learn
|Fluency Anchor Chart|
Day 6 and beyond…
Here’s what I love about using fluency task cards:
- They are short passages specifically designed around critical fluency concepts.
- They aren’t designed to be timed. So instead of worrying about getting further into the passage with each read, students are instead focusing on actively improving all components of their fluency, not just their speed.
- They are designed to be visually appealing and the content is relevant and interesting so they are engaging to the kids.
- Students see immediate growth with research-based repeated reading.
- Students interact with one another and give each other feedback about ways they can improve.
- They are low prep and can be used year after year! Teacher win!
I do mix in other fluency activities into my rotations, so they are only doing the fluency task cards about three days a week, but I have seen major growth in my students since I implemented them. Here’s how I use them:
I also have a huge blog post about ways you can increase fluency, and it features ten different ways you can practice it in the classroom (primarily during centers rotations). Be sure to stop by that post to get even more ideas, too! There are some tried and true gems there, too!