Focusing on Fluency with Freebies and more...

Fluency is the stepping stone to comprehension. In this post, ideas are shared to help support parents at home. Use the post components in your next parental involvement night.
Tomorrow is Focus on Fluency Night at my school, and I thought I'd take a moment to share the materials I've prepared with my blog followers.  Reading is a developmental process, and as we look at our readers, we can categorize them by the types of struggles they have...alphabet knowledge, decoding, fluency, or comprehension.   When a student struggles with fluency, we need to look back at the prerequisite skills and ask ourselves, "Does the student recognize all of the letters and know the individual sounds?" and "Does the student understand phonics rules and apply decoding strategies for accuracy?"  If the answer is yes, then the focus is on the elements of fluency. 

What do we consider fluent reading?

Fluent reading sounds like talking.  The reading occurs at a steady pace that flows in 3-4 word phrases.  It is expressive and uses punctuation for pausing points.

Signs of Fluency Struggles

Reader rubs eyes, puts hands on head, or shows other body language that he/she is frustrated.
Pointing at the print (grades 2 and up)
Reading is halting with lots of rereading.
Reading is word by word.
The students asks to take a break, change activity, or how much longer he/she has to read.
The student looks to the parent to supply words. 

Monitoring Reading

Children need to focus on more than just how their reading sounds.  As students read, they need to pause occasionally to think about the reading material.  (For some students who struggle with attention, this means recording notes in a journal or on sticky notes)  They should think to themselves…Is my reading clicking? Or clunking?  When a miscue (or error) happens, students can: 

1. Use Picture Clues
5. Reread the sentence
2.Get the Mouth Ready
6. Think whether it looks right, sounds right or makes sense
3. Look at the beginning and ending sounds
7. Use a fingerslide to read by syllable
4. Find word chunks they recognize
8. Think about part of speech

Fluency Fun

Activities that can be included in the nightly reading routine:

1. Sightword games such as I Spy, Memory, Swat, and Timed Flashing 
2. Word Study-rapid reading and sorting, reading and writing, segmenting by syllables and/or onset/rime (, tr/unk, sm/oke, t/ap
3. Record troublesome words on notecards for word work practice.  Include the words in games like those listed with the sightword activities. 
4. Repeated reading of poetry-highlighting with different colors by phrase, scooping the phrase underneath the line, or using slash marks to show phrases, choral reading, echo reading by line (parent and then child), and recording poetry reading and replaying it back. 
5. Choosing a favorite page to practice rereading.  Repeated readings are very beneficial to work on making reading more fluent. 
6. Careful book selection to match your child’s independent level.  Do not push children into higher level books unless you are reading the book to the child.  Oral reading should be smooth, at a comfortable rate, and expressive if the book is at the independent level.  (use the 5 finger test to check…5 errors or hesitations on a page of 100 words means the book is too hard).  
7. Recorded reading…if you have a smartphone, voice recorder apps are readily available.  You can record and compare for progress. 
8. Use book recordings in the car or at night and have your child read along.  They hear fluent reading, pick up on new words, and pick up on phrasing.  Audiobooks also train the eyes to flow across the line more smoothly. 
9. Closed captioning is a fun and easy thing that parents can use to increase the sound-symbol connection. 
10. No matter what age your child is, they aren’t too old to be read to.  Pick books that are slightly above your child’s reach. 

Resources for Students and Parents

If you find you are searching for information to share with your parents or to guide your students, perhaps these handouts will help.  Students need to understand what we as teachers are looking for in terms of fluency qualities, and often parents who are unsure need that information too.  I am hoping these handouts will help my parents, and I hope they help you and yours too.    

Fluency is the stepping stone to comprehension. In this post, ideas are shared to help support parents at home. Use the post components in your next parental involvement night.
What is Fluency? Handout comes from Kristin Jordan-Ms. Jordan Reads
What has worked for your students and parents? I'd love to hear. Comment below.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I really like your description of what is fluency. Your handout will be made into a poster for my classroom so my students and I can discuss it and use it as an example. We struggle with fluency.

  2. I'm glad you like them. I hope the parents do tonight too. I loved the video clip and am going to introduce the topic with that and then discuss the handouts. I only have 20 minutes, so it will be quick.

  3. I made a checklist for parents and sent it home with a chart ( Some students had a read aloud requirement with their parents/an adult to help improve fluency. It is so important! Love your article. Caitlin

    1. I just did my workshop, and I felt pretty good about it. I had 12 parents attend which is pretty good. I dropped by your blog...great post! I loved your list of suggestion. One you might want to add is that IF the reading is like nails on a chalkboard, then the book is too hard and is a better read aloud. For some, it's better to read it aloud or echo read to model phrasing. Just thought that might be helpful.

    2. Yes-- or just book the book down and find another. I edited that tip out of the post because I thought it was getting too long winded, but your reply makes me think I should add it back in!

    3. I think parents think that if the teacher sends it, then I need to make sure my child reads each word, but we don't always have the time to look through every page. I am fairly good at eyeballing level, but not perfect. I tell my parents that alternating pages or reading to the child when books seem to be too much of a push for them is just fine.


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