Reading fluency describes a complex action used by effective proficient readers. Fluency describes the sound, and speed of reading. It is often seen as an indication of a reader who is in control of the text and is expressing the author’s meaning. Contributing factors of fluent reading include; appropriate phrasing of the language in text, the stress or emphasis placed on words (expression), prosody (the rhythm and intonation of speech) the speed of word recognition/word solving (Rapid Automatised Naming (RAN)) and the appropriate use of pace during the reading. These elements are generally agreed upon as supporting the reader to comprehend the text. Text difficulty is an important consideration when assessing fluency. The easier the text, the easier it will be to achieve fluent reading. The more problem-solving required on unknown words the slower and more halting the reading will sound. Fluency has been linked to proficient reading (Snow, Burns, and Griffin 1998) and in a 1995 study high correlation was found between phrased and fluent oral reading and comprehension (Pinnell, et al.). The issue that is often raised in terms of assessing fluency is that these complex observable features (phrasing, expression and speed of responding) are only indicators that the reader is comprehending text and are not necessarily a set of skills that can be assessed then taught in isolation.

Teaching Strategies

Increasing reading rate and fluency

The following techniques are most useful with students who have acquired some proficiency in decoding skill but whose level of decoding skill is lower than their oral language abilities. Methods for increasing reading rate have several common features:

  • students listen to text as they follow along with the book,
  • students follow the print using their fingers as guides, and
  • reading materials are used that students would be unable to read independently.

Rapid word recognition 

A way to improve speed of recognition for words is the use of a rapid word recognition chart (Carreker, 1999). The chart is similar to a rapid automatised naming (RAN) task. It is a matrix that contains five rows of six words (e.g., pat, pet, dog, log), with each row containing the same six words in a different order. After a brief review of the words, students are timed for 1 minute as they read the words in the squares aloud. Students can then count and record the number of words read correctly. This procedure can help students who struggle to memorize word patterns.
Remember: You can only choose 6 of the target words for each session.

To create your own Rapid Word Recognition Charts 
go to the website and then halfway down the page you will locate the link to the Rapid Recognition Chart Generator. (It’s very easy to use and takes all the hard work out of creating resources.)

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Repeated Reading

The repeated readings technique is designed for children who read slowly despite adequate word recognition (Samuels, 1979). For this procedure, the child reads the same passage over and over again. To begin, select the first few pages of an ERIK book (remembering that the passage should be slightly above the student’s independent reading level and needs to contain between 50 – 100 words). Have the student read the selection orally while you time the reading and count the number of words that are pronounced incorrectly. Record the reading time and the number of words pronounced incorrectly.
If desired, set a realistic goal for speed and number of errors. The figure below presents a sample recording form to use for repeated readings. You may use two different coloured pencils for recording time and errors, or you may use a circle to indicate points on the line for time and an X or a square to indicate points on the line for errors.
Between timings, you may ask the student to look over the selection, reread it, and practice words that caused difficulty in the initial reading. When the student is ready, have him or her reread the same passage. Once again, time the reading, and record the time and number of errors. Have the student repeatedly practice reading the selection as you chart progress after each trial until a predetermined goal is reached or until the student is able to read the passage fluently with few mistakes.

Research on Repeated Reading
The RAVE-O Curriculum

RAVE-O is a comprehensive research and evidence-based approach to reading fluency, in that it addresses both overt reading behaviors like word recognition skills and comprehension, and underlying components including visual scanning, orthographic pattern recognition, semantic and syntactic development and lexical retrieval. RAVE-O simultaneously addresses the need for automaticity in phonological, orthographic, semantic, syntactic and morphological systems as well as the importance of teaching explicit connections among these systems. The goal throughout is to teach systematic, theoretical principles that underlie fluency and decoding through:

  • explicit instruction in skills underlying fluency and comprehension
  • imaginative, whimsy-filled opportunities for practice
  • a set of strategies that embolden discouraged children to look at written language with whole new eyes.
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Sight Word Resources

The SightWords website is sponsored by the Georgia Preschool Assocaition and provides a number of free, customiseable and printable rersources to assist in developing fluent reading of common, frequently-used words.

Visit the Website 12 fun Games from Go Fish to Snakes & Ladders Customizable Flash Cards Classroom-tested Lessons