We all know fluency is important and what a fluent reader sounds like. We strive to teach fluency to our students who lack fluency. The question is do we remember to tie it in to comprehension? The whole goal of reading is to comprehend what we have read. So when striving for fluency we need to be sure we are not leaving out the component of understanding what we read.
Fluency is not reading as fast as we can go. I model this way of reading so students can hear what it sounds like. Students laugh and cannot understand what I am saying as I am going so fast, tripping on words as I read.
Fluency is not reading word by word, sounding out as we go. I model this type of reading also. Students do not like listening to this at all.
Fluency is not reading at one speed in a monotone voice. When I model this, students frown and are not interested.
Finally I get to model what fluent reading sounds like and you should see the nods from the students and the smiles on their faces. They know fluent reading when they hear it! When we practice fluency, I try to help the students understand that this not only sounds better, but fluency helps them understand what they are reading. It is important to make that connection for students so they do not just concentrate on the speed of their reading.
We all know Reader’s Theater, choral reading, and echo reading helps students practice on their fluency. But we shouldn’t forget about poems! Kids love poems and they just naturally lend themselves to fluency practice. Poems paint pictures in our minds using the poet’s words and is a natural link for making that connection to comprehension. So as you are reading and writing poems for April, use them for practicing fluency too. Try reading a poem the first time without fluency to the students and have them do a quick sketch of what happened in the poem. Then read it again with fluent reading and lots of expression and have students draw again what the poem was about. They will be able to hear and see in their mind lots more details. This can be done with a T chart too. On the first side of the T chart, they chart what the poem was about or details. Then after the second reading, they again chart all they heard and saw in their minds. Compare the two pictures or two sides of the chart and how much more detail they comprehended with the fluent reading. It is a great way to visually make that connection between fluency and comprehension for students.