When reading aloud, call your students’ attention to the fluent, expressive manner in which you are reading. Encourage them to “mimic” this in their own oral reading. Modeling the reading of easy books for enjoyment is also a way to encourage older struggling readers to read easy books.
Compare Two Books
Cover two copies of the same book with construction paper. Label the books “Book One” and “Book Two.” Read aloud a section from Book One in a monotone voice. Read a different passage from Book Two with fluency and expression. Ask students which book they liked better. Make a T-chart to compare what you did with your voice that made them like Book Two better.
Then label the chart “What fluency is NOT” and “What fluency IS”. Uncover the two books to show that they are the same and that what you do with your voice really does matter.
Select a book and harvest sentences with special print or punctuation marks. Write the sentences on sentence strips. Point out the text clues and have students chorally read each sentence the way the author intended.
Poetry is one of the best sources of text for building fluency. Its length, rhyme, rhythm, and repetitiveness lend itself well to reading with expression. Because it is fun, children are motivated to read more, which in turn helps them become more fluent. My students keep a poetry notebook of all of the poems we read throughout the year. I also include songs that teach and reinforce phonics skills. (These songs can be reproduced from The Big Book of Phonics Fun, Carson-Dellosa, 1994).
Have students take their poetry notebooks home once a week (I like Fridays) to read favorite poems with their families. The “lucky listeners” sign the form that is in the back of their poetry notebooks.
Daily Self-Selected Reading
Children who engage in regular self-selected reading read significantly more than children who don’t. The amount of reading children do is one of the biggest variables in their word fluency. Be sure that students are reading on their independent reading levels (95% accuracy—missing only about 1 of every 20 words). If the text is too difficult, children will focus so much on word recognition that they will not have an opportunity to develop fluency.
Guided Reading Warm-Up
Before beginning a guided reading session, have each student select a familiar book to whisper read at the same time. Listen to each student for characteristics of fluent reading.
Share a Favorite Passage
Ask students to select a favorite passage from a text. Instruct them to practice reading it several times with the goal of increasing fluency. Have each student read aloud his passage for the class, encouraging him to use good expression and fluency so that it will be enjoyable for his listeners.
Reading in Phrases
Type a list of short phrases and display them on an overhead. Show one phrase at a time and have students chorally read, emphasizing reading in phrases rather than word-by-word.
The teacher sits beside the reader and reads aloud into his ear while the child is also reading aloud. The teacher reads just a little faster than the child to help increase the child’s reading rate and fluency.
This technique works well for students who are transitioning from finger pointing to reading with eyes only. Give the student a “bookmark” cut from a colored transparency sheet. Have the student place the bookmark under the line that is being read. Because the card is transparent, the student is able to see the words that are coming up next.
Fluency phones provide students with direct auditory feedback while reading orally. I like to keep 2-3 fluency phones in a basket with poetry and other easy high-interest books. This basket serves as a fluency literacy center during guided reading time. To purchase fluency phones, go to www.phonicsphone.org (1-800-633-7212). To make your own, go to the plumbing section of your home improvement store and purchase PVC elbow pipe fittings. I use the 1 ½” elbows.
Reading with Emotion
Help students realize that reading with various emotions can change the meaning of a text. Have students practice reading in a “sad” voice, a “happy” voice, etc. A variation of this is to have a student read with a certain voice and ask the class to guess the emotion.
Choral reading provides a highly motivating way to get children to read orally and fluently. It is also an efficient way to maximize the number of oral reading opportunities per child.
Choral Reading Variations
There are many variations of choral reading that can add spice to your fluency lessons. Some of these include echo reading, line-a-child, antiphonal reading (assign sections to various groups), and choral singing.
Have students practice reading an easy text and then allow them to “perform” into a tape recorder.
Readers Theatre is a text or part of a text transformed into a script. It does not rely on costumes or props and the lines are read, not memorized. Students read their parts and use their voices to express the meaning of the text. Students read, rehearse, and perform for an audience, making this a natural, authentic way to promote repeated reading of a text. Students don’t even realize they are rereading because they are so involved in the “play.” Check out the websites below for free reader’s theater scripts and other resources.