Reading fluency activities are a great way to improve reading speed and accuracy. Reading fluency is the speed or rate of reading without conscious attention to the mechanics of reading. A fluent reader has the ability to read and understand words automatically.
Fluent readers are able to more easily comprehend complete sentences and entire reading selections. When readers understand entire reading selections, they are able to retain the information, analyze it, and use it in many different ways.
The more fluid and fast you read, your understanding of what you read becomes automatic and more fun. Reading can become an enjoyable activity for everyone. When you work on improving your reading fluency, you inherently improve your reading comprehension. Short, daily reading fluency activities are a perfect way to not only read faster, more fluidly, and efficiently but to also improve confidence.
Reading Fluency Activities
1. Reading Fluency Drills
Reading fluency drills are one of the best activities you can do to improve your reading fluency. With our custom-designed, phonetic-based drills, you work on improving the underlying brain processes of reading. When you do these drills, you target five areas of visual processing, six areas of auditory processing, and two areas of tactile/kinesthetic processing. This process also strengthens phonemic awareness and phonics skills at the same time. We do this in just 5-minutes a day and 3-5 days a week.
How Scholar Within’s Reading Fluency Training Works:
- One Student, One Instructor
You will need either a parent, teacher, tutor, or older sibling with your student.
- Gather Supplies: 2 Copies of the Drill
- Both the student and instructor (parent, teacher, or older sibling) will each have copies of the same drill in front of them. The instructor’s copy has word counts on the side to be able to quickly figure out how many words the student has read.
- Go to the Free Reading Fluency Drill Download Page
- Practice the Reading Drill (2-3 minutes)
- We start by doing a practice read aloud from left to right, just as you would read normally.
- If any mistakes are made, have the instructor correct the mistakes as they are made aloud.
- Your student will not have to read all of the words on the drill of the practice read, just roughly the amount they will be able to read in a minute timed.
- Timed Reading Fluency Drill (1 minute)
After you have done a brief practice read, you are ready for the timed drill.
- Have the instructor use a stopwatch or the timer functionality on a phone.
- Have the instructor keep track of mistakes discretely. We do this because sometimes students get flustered if they see that you have marked that they made a mistake and will not keep going.
- Mistakes are: mispronounced words, skipped words, or repeated words.
- Stop the drill at 1-minute.
- Chart Words-Per-Minute and Mistakes
- Count the number of words the student read in the 1-minute timing along with the number of mistakes made.
- Chart the words and mistakes in a daily chart. This way you can keep track of how many words your student has read per minute each day. You will start seeing mistakes per minute go down and words read per minute go up often in the first few days.
- Do the Reading Fluency Training 3-5 Times a Week
- Continued daily fluency training in short increments will improve your kid’s skills faster than just reading alone.
- Set a Goal for Mastery
- After the first time the student has done the practice read and then the timed reading of the drill, set a goal for them to be able to read about 5-25 more words per minute, depending on the student’s grade level/ability, always with a maximum of no more than 4 mistakes per minute.
- Move on to the Next Drill
- Once the student has achieved mastery, move on to the next reading drill. We have over 50, custom-designed reading drills that start with the short vowel-consonant pattern and we work the way up all the way to multi-syllable, multi-pattern words.
Many parents and teachers have asked if they could try our reading fluency activities, so we have made the first reading drill available to download.
2. Repeated Readings
Repeated reading is another type of reading fluency practice. This is where a student reads a single passage multiple times in order to reach accuracy and improve their speed of reading the passage. This process typically improves the student’s ability to read automatically without pronunciation errors while maintaining their comprehension of the reading selection. The focus is on reading quality rather than on reading speed.
3. Choral Readings
Choral reading is another way to practice reading fluency. In this method, students read along with a more experienced reader. Several students can also simultaneously choral read together with a more experienced reader. Choral reading helps the student pick up reading fluency, expression, and intonation.
4. Paired Reading (Take Turns Reading)
Paired reading is another way to improve reading fluency. In this strategy, students take turns reading the text to each other. This can also be done by a parent reading a paragraph or page and the student reads the next paragraph or page. We did this often as a family, taking turns with each child reading a paragraph or page and then the next one would read, or I would read. Alternating readings are great for students to be able to understand the correct intonation of sentences.
Understanding Why Reading Fluency is Important
Read the sentence, “Sally can go to the store.” Then several pages later, you get to the questions and one question asks, “Why couldn’t Sally go to the store?” The question doesn’t make any sense to you, because you read Sally can go to the store. Upon going back and re-reading, you find that the sentence really said, “Sally can’t go to the store.” The whole meaning was lost by skipping the apostrophe t in the word can’t. That is one way that reading fluency problems impact comprehension.
Your ability to read fluently starts with phonemic awareness and phonics. It is the ability to take the patterns of sounds (phonological structures) and sound-symbol relationship (orthographic structures) and being able to recognize it quickly enough to gain meaning from it. This process of quickly or rapidly recognizing word structures helps you to understand entire sentences automatically.
When you are a fluent reader, you are able to read without thinking about the mechanics of reading. S. Jay Samuels started doing research in the 1970s. In 2006, he states, “Comprehension requires the fluent mastery of the surface-level aspects of reading.”
What does research say?
Reading fluency is about learning the patterns of the spoken and written word. When you start to see patterns in how words are written, you become more fluent. Because of this, fluency training that focuses on the phonemic and phonic components of words helps us to read a text more rapidly. Mark Seidenberg, author of Language at the Speed of Light states, “Reading brings in regularities in how letters combine and how orthography relates to phonology and meaning.” Practicing reading with a phonological and phonic basis, helps you to recognize and retain words quickly. This, then, makes reading easier and more fluent.
As early as 1886, one of the first reading fluency researchers, psychologist William MacKeen Cattell, discovered that you can read a word (like ‘tiger’) faster than you can name a picture of a pouncing feline creature!
Cattell was the first person to recognize that we become quite ‘automatic’ when we read. In fact, we are more automatic when reading than when speaking. So, learning to read automatically is a huge achievement for our brain. This is a capacity that we have, learning something so well that we can do it almost without thinking.
Reid Lyon, Ph.D. (1997) states in his article Why Reading Is Not a Natural Process, “If beginning readers read the words in a laborious, inefficient manner, they cannot remember what they read, much less relate the ideas to their background knowledge. Thus, the ultimate goal of reading instruction–for children to understand and enjoy what they read-will not be achieved.”
How does reading fluency fit into the 5-principles of reading?
Reading fluency activities are important for every student to do. It is the third principle of reading. Fluency brings together phonemic awareness and phonics so that you can read words, sentences, and paragraphs quickly. When you are able to read quickly, you typically understand and comprehend what you have read.
There are ways to improve your fluency. Fluency training is one of the easiest things a parent can do for their child. It requires little time and minimal experience.
For more direct instruction on improving reading skills that include fluency training with phonemic awareness and phonics, the alphabetic principle, reserve your spot for our Reading Program. Here, Bonnie teaches these skills to you, step-by-step through audio and video lessons. The program integrates fluency training, phonemic awareness and phonics seamlessly.