My friend, Tammy, over at Forever in First has a great post on first graders and fluency. Fluency is such an important part of good reading. It is something that some readers continue to struggle with. Students need be able to read quickly with meaning, but not so fast that they are just spitting out the words as fast as they can go. Reading needs to be about comprehension. We teach our young readers to read to sound like talking. The younger readers are usually all for using expression and making the reading sound more interesting. I love hearing them practice reading with expression- they put all their effort into making it sound just like the character is talking through them. Tammy calls it using your storytelling voice. 🙂
But when students get older, their fluency, or lack there of, may keep them from being able to get through the material. The older, struggling reader is less likely to feel comfortable using expression when they read. They (the struggling reader) tend to rush through the material with the end goal of just get it read and done.
Timothy Rasinski has a lot of ideas for students who need to work on fluency. One tried and true method for me that I learned from him is the repeated readings. I model a small passage to the students so they can hear a fluent reading. They they go to different areas of the room and practice trying to sound like me as they read. After they practice at least 3 times, they can come back to me and read for me to see how they do. The key seems to be hearing a fluent read first and then practicing out loud so they can hear how they sound. Tying fluency with the purpose that it improves our comprehension of the story is important too, so they understand it isn’t just about the speed.
What ideas do you use to help fluency in either the young reader or the older reader? I would love to hear about them!