Fluency - An Overview
Fluency is defined as the ability to read words accurately, smoothly, with expression, and at an appropriate rate.
Before jumping in to learning about Fluency test your knowledge by taking this pretest.
WHAT is Fluency
There are four Elements of Fluency
- Accuracy is the ability to read the words in the text as they are written. The goal of accurate reading is automatic and effortless word recognition—no decoding, no word solving, just reading.
- Rate is the speed at which a person reads text. The goal is for the reader to have the ability to read the text at the appropriate speed, and to determine what is appropriate based on the nature of the text.
- Phrasing is the ability to group words together, as in normal speech, pausing appropriately between phrases, clauses, and sentences. Phrasing requires readers to read texts in meaningful chunks, paying attention to prepositions and punctuation.
- Expression is the ability to read words in text with the appropriate stress and intonation. It’s often called “reading with feeling.” Prosody, the defining feature of expressive reading, requires proficiency in all the variables that speakers use to help convey aspects of meaning and to make their speech lively: timing, phrasing, emphasis, and intonation.
An in-depth overview of fluency instruction.
The Elements of Fluency
A guide to the elements of fluency.
WHY Fluency is Critical to Reading Development
Fluency is important because it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension. Fluency allows readers to make meaning from a text “on the run.”
Fluency is also a window into children’s reading development. By listening to them read, we can determine what to focus our instruction on.
Disfluency (a lack of fluent reading behaviors) can lead to an inability to comprehend. When a child’s reading slows down periodically, it is difficult for them to make meaning from the text because so much of their mental energy is devoted to deciphering words. Reading can become a labored, tedious task that is almost completely devoid of meaning, satisfaction, and enjoyment. If reading always consistently take so much work, children will, understandably, not persist through text, and not be motivated to read in the first place.
Fluency is connected to the other areas of literacy instruction. Phonological awareness is the process by which readers start understanding how sounds make up words and phonics is the understanding of how letters and sounds are connected. Early literacy skills like these lead directly into the process of decoding. The more skilled a reader is with decoding, the more fluent they become. As fluency increases, so, too, does the reader’s ability to comprehend what they are reading. When readers no longer have to think about every sound and letter and can, instead, read with automaticity, their brains can attend to meaning. Fluency, supported by phonemic awareness and phonics, is vital to reading comprehension.
HOW Do We Teach Fluency
We can support fluency growth in three important ways:
- Read to children. Reading aloud allows children to hear what fluent reading sounds like. While reading to children, we model and explicitly teach what it takes to read accurately, at an appropriate rate, and with good phrasing and expression.
- Provide supported practice. This experience lets children feel what it’s like to apply fluency skills. Having children read repetitive lines in text together or share a rhyming poem helps them get a feel for rhythm and patterns.
- Give children time to read. Children should read often. When they read and reread texts, they gain fluency and are able to read smoothly with each repeated reading. This reading time also enhances motivation. The more children read, the more they want to read.
Reader's Theater Overview
Use this resource as you plan a Reader's Theater lesson.
Use this resource as you plan Repeated Reading lessons.
Use this resource as you plan Shared Reading lessons.
Developing Fluency - Gradual Release in Literacy Practices
Checklist - Fluency Accuracy
A checklist for assessing student skills in accuracy.
Fluency Skills Checklists for Rate, Phrasing, and Expression
Checklists for Rate, Phrasing, and Expression