Let’s talk about fluency!
I have a confession…I am a phonics girl through and through. It is by far my favorite subject to teach, which is probably a good thing since I teach first grade.
I honestly do not remember how I was taught to read, I may have been in the transition of whole-word into the “Open Court” way of phonics. But when I started teaching second grade, I seriously became a better speller. I had to learn the patterns to teach the patterns. Crazy, I know!
Now being in first, we love digging in deep and finding, reading, studying, singing those patterns.
But something I noticed was, we were studying the words and the patterns. When they saw a word, they could read it. But as soon as a sentences was in from of them, it became an overwhelming task.
Here are 5 tips to teaching fluency…
First things first, everyone knows to better your fluency, you have to practice it over and over! Picking a leveled text helps with this. This can be done with your schools’ anthology, an easy reader, or a phonics book. I love to pick books that have the spelling pattern we are working on (again, I am such a nerd for phonics). I also like to use something interactive, because students start looking at me crazy if I tell them we have to read something again (they think reading can be so boring sometimes).
During our small-group time I use printable books so we can write, color, highlight, underline, circle all over that book and make it ours (confidence to read comes when students take ownership, printable books are helpful to give them a sense of “mine”). You can use decodables if they came with your districts’ curriculum, we no longer order them in my district so I use these readers.
In my small group we read through a book once or twice together, then with a partner, then on our own. With these particular readers we then get to read through it again with a purpose (for example: finding the phonics sound, grammar skill, or answer to the comprehension question). This piece of interaction gets the students excited to “read again” without all the complaining. If you can’t write on a repeated reading book you are using, you can always have them list search items on a paper or whiteboard, the hunt for anything keeps them engaged.
*Note: I always have my students read EVERY word when they are hunting for something. For me, it makes them practice again, but for them, they think if they do they won’t miss a thing. I’m tricky like that.
I LOVE ECHO READING. It makes my little soul happy. Here’s why: it models fluent reading and it makes students sound like me.
Have you ever said, “Repeat after me” and they say every word and every intonation the same as you?? That is EXACTLY the point. And I think they sound adorable talking like adults.
Echo reading is precisely that, an echo. We all look at the same text, I read first, then my students read the same right after me. This gives them the practice of intonation as well as practice fluently reading something.
I really enjoy doing echo reading with poetry. These poems by A Teachable Teacher are quite the hit in our classroom. They love repeating after me and don’t even realize they are practicing fluid reading!
Recorded reads are tons of fun! I let my students pick a book, practice reading it a few times, and record themselves on our tablets (you can use iPhones, iPads, tape recorders, or even a computer).
I let my students record their story, then listen to it. Then I ask them if they felt that was a good read. If not, they practice practice practice again, to get an even better recording! They get so competitive with themselves, it’s a great way to
trick fool bribe them into reading fluently!
A great app for this is Seesaw. Your students can record their voices as well as upload pictures of their work for a portfolio. Amber from A Peppy Zesty Teacherista did a post on how she uses the Seesaw app.
Here’s a quick video on how to use Seesaw.
Reader’s Theater is another great way to practice fluency. I have a GIANT handful of students who love to perform in front of the class, so I’ve harnessed that energy into performances of reader’s theater. We are completely obsessed with Frog & Toad as of right now, so I’ve typed up some stories in a more scripted way and we grab partners to practice. We talk about how it’s important to read fluently and read with expression because no one wants to watch a bunch of robots and no one can follow when you pause too much. It’s tons of fun and again…bribes the kids into fluently reading! For great Readers’ Theater plays, check out A Teeny Tiny Teacher!
A fun app for Reader’s Theater is Sock Puppets. You can take your reader’s theater script or have your students create their own and use this app to create a sock puppet show! It changes your voice to something silly sounding. It’s HILARIOUS! The kids love it. Read more about this app HERE.
Here’s a video that some of my students created.
Here’s a quick video on how to use it in your classroom.
You can practice fluent reading by reading short phrases. Short phrases are not so overwhelming. They tend to have common sight words in them that students are confident in. We use these Fluency Roll & Reads to practice our phrase reading.
First we read all the phrases together (sometimes we do echo reading here t00), we also practice reading them to our partner. Sometimes we even get to do a reading race, where you read the phrases in one column as fast as you can! That’s always a hit.
Lastly (or sometimes we JUST do this step), we roll a dice, pick a phrase, read it to our partner and repeat! We enjoy anything with dice.
If you are still looking for more ideas for reading and fluency, make sure to check out my reading pinterest board.
For more SMASHING strategies for Guided Reading check out the link up below: