What is Reading Fluency?
The book defines Reading Fluency as the ability to read texts smoothly, expressively and well, whether you’re reading to yourself or reading aloud. (pg 112) Accuracy, rate and expressiveness are the components of reading fluency, but before students can work on these elements, they have to be able to decode automatically. That is why explicit and systematic phonics is so important, as well as repeated and purposeful practice. Please do not skip and rush students through explicit phonics. A shaky reading foundation will not produce fluent readers.
When referring to reading, accuracy means pronouncing words that they are commonly used, as well as understanding how punctuation operates. As a kindergarten teacher, I teach students about periods, question marks and exclamation. I show how to use them and then how to read them in print. Here is an anchor chart that we create together on punctuation.
I model each one, emphasizing the inflection of my voice when using a question mark, or the excitement and/or drama of an exclamation mark. It is very important to model when reading and teaching about punctuation. We also teach that a period at the end of a sentence is like a stop sign. When you see one, stop and take a quick rest, which gives you a split second to think about what you just read. This is really important to comprehension.
The speed of oral reading is always an interesting subject. As both a teacher and parent, I have been on each side: seeing the need for appropriate speed during reading, but also realizing that rate is not the same for every student. My daughter is a fluent reader, but was always right under the fluency benchmark for rate. She was even put in an intervention group for speed. It only produced anxiety about ‘meeting the fluency rate goal’. She is a great reader and her comprehension is terrific, she just needed a slower pace than what others were doing. This is where I think teacher intuition needs to come into play. Do students need to have a fluency rate in order to understand what they are reading and for it to unfold correctly? Yes. But I agree with the book on the Goldilocks effect…not too slow, so that it impedes comprehension, but not too fast that you zoom over the context of what you just read.
Having expression when reading helps to convey the message of the text and will suit the reading. Beginning readers tend to read in a flat voice. But this is understandable, since they are just learning to decode and are just starting their journey to fluency. But reading with expression and inflection should begin to develop and expand as the become stronger readers.
How to Build Reading Fluency
Yes I read this chapter. But my ‘expertise’ comes from teaching Kindergarten. It’s been my experience that modeling and reading to my students every day is important, but giving them the opportunities to learn, grow and PRACTICE what they have learned is key. This happens during our whole-group lessons, when they are independently practicing and when they are meeting the teacher during small group for differentiated instruction and practice. Students NEED practice. PRACTICE MAKES PROGRESS. You cannot grow if you do not practice. And as much as we want them to practice outside of school, we can only control what happens in our classrooms, so make practice a priority!
This is where the teacher reads a sentence of chunk of reading, modeling fluency, rate and expressiveness and then the students echo what he/she read. This can happen at morning meeting or with pocket chart activities.
Choral reading is done whole-group, whether it is the entire class or with a few students in a small group. But all students follow along and read together. I have shared about doing a poem each week and have a poetry notebook. This weekly poem is a great way to practice that choral reading.
This is similar to echo and choral reading, but in a partner setting. You would want to make sure to have one partner be a stronger reader, so they are not floundering during this time. The pair takes turns reading aloud while the other tracks the text and then swaps places. Sometimes this type of practice is less intimidating, as there is less pressure and fear of failure, since it is a partnership. But in doing it this way, other issues can arise.
This can be done for anything and everything. Rereading what has already been read. You can also ask students to go back in and re-read to answer a question or review what you are talking about. Again, just another type of practice. I love the poetry notebooks for this repeated practice!
©2022 Kindergarten Chaos
Key takeaways from this chapter are to make sure that students have multiple opportunities to hear fluent reading from an expert reader, as well as multiple opportunities to PRACTICE what they have learned and are learning! Don’t forget to check out Mr.Greg’s blog post HERE!