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Four Ways to Increase Fluency


  1. Model Good Oral Reading for your students
    1. When you read orally in a natural manner, you model fluent reading.
    2. Draw attention to how you are reading/explain why. (Some researchers have said that about every 10 days or so, readers need to know what fluency is—reading at a speaking rate, correctly and with expression (feeling.) Many early readers, especially, get the wrong idea that fluency is reading as fast as you can. And it is not.)
    3. Read same passage 2 different ways (disfluently, fluently) ask which way students prefer (Make this a game.They can figure it out.)
        1. Show how a person can become fluent (by practicing over, sometimes out loud.)
        2. Have students describe a fluent reader


  1. Provide Oral Support for Readers
    1. Choral Reading (Happens often in primary grades but fades away in intermediate grades. It’s unfortunate that it does, since it’s a great way to get those who are uncomfortable reading aloud out of that fright mode.)
    2. Paired reading (Involves 2 readers at the opposite ends of the fluency spectrum. Pairs like teacher-student and student-student.) Procedure is quite simple: more able and less able readers sit side-by-side with a text chosen by the less able reader. The pair reads the text aloud together for 10-20 minutes. During the reading the tutor adjusts his or her voice to match the reading fluency of the student. Whenever the student errs on a word, the tutor gives the correct pronunciation quickly & the reading continues to avoid disrupting fluency. The tutor permits the less able reader to maintain control over the reading experience; that student can opt to read on his or her own without the support or the tutor. Usually this is done with a nonverbal signal such as a gentle elbow in the tutor’s ribs. The tutor remains quiet while the student reads on his or her own. Whenever the student falters, however, the tutor jumps in to support the student’s reading.
    3. Using recorded materials—talking books. The reader reads a text aloud while simultaneously listening to a fluent rendition of a tape. Potential problem: lack of supervision.


  1. Offer Plenty of Practice Opportunities—decoding needs to be brought to a level of automaticity. Therefore, lots of practice needs to happen with it. By bringing the level to automatic, it saves cognitive space for the reader to understand what the words mean, therefore comprehension improves. Spending too much time decoding makes for dull remembering.
    1. Repeated readings—these can lead to significant increases in students’ fluency. They can be done silently or orally, although oral repeated reading is the predominant and preferred form for developing fluency.
    2. Read Naturally—it’s an intervention program that does increase fluency. It combines repeated reading and oral support reading. Students begin with one-minute “cold” (unrehearsed) reading of a text at their instructional level. From this reading, they determine their Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) score: the total number of words they read minus any uncorrected errors; in other words, the total words they read correctly. Next, students practice read the same passage orally, in a soft voice, 3 or 4 times while listening to a fluent recording of it. When students feel they can read the text independently, they practice without the recording. Finally, after a number of practice readings, the teacher checks individual students reading the same passage. The student moves on to another text if he or she reads the text fluently and with few errors.


  1. Encourage Fluency through Phrasing—besides being able to decode automatically, fluent readers chunk or parse text into systematically appropriate units—mainly phrases. This is important because often meaning lies in a text’s phrases and not in its individual words. This ability aids in comprehension. One of the most common characteristics of disfluent readers is decoding word-for-word. (e.g., Consider the following sentence: The young man the jungle gym. On first reading, the sentence may not make sense. And decoding, or  understanding the meaning of any individual word, is most likely not what is causing difficulty. The difficulty lies in phrasing. Most readers chunk the first portion of the sentence, “The young man…” into a phrase. But by doing that, he or she is left without a verb. Good readers generally go back and “rechunk” the text in a different manner. In oral speech, phrasing is usually conveyed through prosodic (i.e., intonation, inflection, pauses, and so forth) cues in oral language.



Rasinski, T. V., The Fluent Reader. 2003. New York: Scholastic Professional Books.



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