Fluency- The ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression.
Building fluency is a main focus in my upper elementary classroom. The majority of my students can say the words on the page, but reading the words with proper speed and expression takes practice. Working on fluency carries over to other areas of reading, such as it helps to increase comprehension. As I tell my students..... to read is to understand, and if you don't understand/comprehend what you are 'saying', you aren't really reading. Building fluency is just one reading skill that is going to help them better comprehend.
We have all had kids in our classroom read aloud, whether it be whole class or in a small group, or even one on one. As a teacher (and even as a student), we can easily recognize a child that struggles with fluency. It can typically be identified within the first few sentences of having them read aloud. The same struggles we hear when they read aloud are most likely carrying over to their quiet independent reading. Because of this, there needs to be some kind of activity within the classroom (or for homework) that focuses on building fluency.
In talking to other teachers about what they do in regard to building fluency, I have come to the conclusion that many teachers assess fluency, they correct fluency, but they simply are not providing activities to build fluency. As always, time is a factor. With that said, I wanted to share a little activity I do with my students.
My Bright Idea.....
I named this fluency building activity "Read It and Repeat It". Yep, it's as simple as that! Just practice and improve. I don't have the kids read an entire book, but rather I assign them a Read It and Repeat It paragraph or short passage. I actually take a suitable passage from a book, type it, and then give a copy to each student. The passage is not long, most likely just a paragraph, but I make sure it's one that allows for expression. It may have commas and other punctuation that kids would typically struggle with. When I type the passage, I can fit 3-4 on a page, so that cuts down on copies. I know you could just have students read a short passage from a book they have, but for some reason, the kids get so excited about seeing what the passage is. Having it on the small slip of paper doesn't seem so overwhelming.
So, how does it work? I have done the activity several ways. I have made it a homework activity where I pass it out on Monday and they are required to practice reading it aloud each night. Then they come back and read it to the class on a Friday. You don't even have to pick all kids to read aloud, as you can draw five names and just have those few read it aloud. I have also encouraged my students to make two recordings at home, and I even pass that suggestion on to the parents. The students love to hear how much they improve, and when they do, they are amazed!! You could even do this activity with just your weakest readers in the area of fluency. You could easily pull them to the hallway and record them reading their passage. They can practice reading it aloud to you each day in their reading group or even in the morning while all of the kids are arriving, and then record them again at the end of the week. You are sure to hear major improvements that will carry over to other reading activities.
I encourage you to give it a try! Try it once. Do it weekly. Add it as a bi-weekly activity. However you do it, I feel sure you will have readers that love it and want to hear themselves improve in the area of fluency.
Would you like to find out how to create with things you already have in your classroom? If so, head on over to my friend Faith's blog called 1st Grade Fantabulous. Click HERE.
You can find more bright classroom ideas from other blogging friends by clicking the links below. Have fun!