FLUENCYFluency is the ability to read a text accurately, at an appropriate rate, and with expression. When reading aloud, fluent readers read smoothly and with expression. Children who are not fluent readers often sound choppy and read without expression. Some reasons for not being fluent include lack of decoding skills or simply needing more practice reading. Reading fluently is important not only for comprehension, but also for motivation. Many students who do not read fluently often dislike to read since it can be tedious and difficult for them. They also often do not comprehend what they are reading due to the fact that they are so completely focused on reading word for word that they miss out on the fact that they should be reading for meaning. As readers enter the upper grades fluency becomes critical since the volume of reading increases, and students who struggle with fluency may quickly fall behind.
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  • The following information is from the Reading Rockets
website and offers three perspectives on fluency.

A student's perspective: What this feels like to me
Children will usually express their frustration and difficulties in a general way, with statements like "I hate reading!" or "This is stupid!". But if they could, this is how kids might describe how fluency difficulties in particular affect their reading:
" I just seem to get stuck when I try to read a lot of the words."" It takes me so long to read something."" Reading through this book takes so much of my energy, I can't even think about what it means."
A parent's perspective: What I see at home
Here are some clues for parents that a child may have problems with fluency:

" He knows how to read words but seems to take a long time to read a short book or passage."
" She reads a book with no expression."
" He stumbles a lot and loses his place."
" She reads very slowly."

A teacher's perspective: What I see in the classroom
Here are some clues for teachers that a student may have problems with fluency:

"Her results on words correct per minute assessents are below grade level."
"She has difficulty and grows frustrated when reading aloud."
"He does not read with expresssion."
"He does not 'chunk' words into meaningful units."

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Fluency Assessment
The ability to measure a student's level of achievement in fluency and monitor their progress is key to successful fluency instruction. Teachers need to be able to gauge the effectiveness of their fluency instruction, and in order to do this, they need ways in which to assess student fluency validly and efficiently. When considering which assessments to use, teachers must keep in mind the assessment's degree of reliability and validity. The assessment results should provide consistent measures of fluency in the following components: reading accuracy, automaticity, and prosody (expression). The assessment must also be efficient in administration, scoring, and interpretation. If the assessment is not quick and easy, then teachers may not find time to use them, or they may use them incorrectly. Quick and easy assessments will allow for more time spent on instruction.


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Just Right Books
Fluency is the speed and accuracy with which a person reads. Fast, fluent readers understand and remember more than slow, word by word readers. One factor in determining how quickly and accurately a student will read is the book a student chooses to read. Students should select books at their comfort level, but that is not always the case. We've all seen a student choose a book that is too difficult for him (Harry Potter, for example) simply because he has seen other kids read it. If the book is too difficult for him, then he may sit at his desk pretending to read it, even thought he can't get past the first page! Students must be taught how to select books at their appropriate reading level. Reading in the 'comfort zone' means that students read well enough to understand the text, and students can be taught how to choose appropriate books on their own.

Teaching students to use the 5 finger rule is one way to instruct them in choosing appropriate books.

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Here is a link to a good lesson on teaching students how to choose appropriate books.

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The following websites provide free printable downloads, resources, and ideas for reading fluency activities. The activities can be taught in the classroom or implemented at home.







TECHNOLOGY AND READING FLUENCY Using technology is a great, motivating way to get students to practice reading fluency. The following websites offer a variety of ways in which to use technology to improve a student's reading fluency.

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READING FLUENCY IN THE UPPER GRADESLack of reading fluency in middle school and high school is problematic for students. It can impair comprehension, reduce motivation to read, and makes it difficult to keep up with the reading demands in their classes. Here are some links with helpful advice on how to teach fluency to middle school or high school students. Some of the articles focus on learning disabled students, but the strategies mentioned can be used for any student.