To become a proficient reader, fluency is a skill that is an absolute essential. The reason for this, among others, is that fluent readers decode words automatically, enabling them to focus on comprehending the meaning of text. As students work to become proficient readers, they’ll benefit from hearing fluent models of reading, such as when the teacher, or a more fluent reader, reads aloud. However, students need many more opportunities to practice and truly refine oral reading fluency skills with the support of their teacher. Fluency passages are a great resource to help students achieve these goals and more. Within this article, we’ll take a deep dive into fluency passages and how they can help you accelerate literacy development in your classroom.
What are Fluency Passages?
Fluency passages are brief texts that students can read multiple times to improve their oral reading fluency, speed, and accuracy. Intended to promote repeated reading of the same passage, fluency passages are incredibly brief in nature.
How it works: Students read the passages aloud several times as the teacher monitors their reading and provides feedback. This offers them more opportunities to develop a better command of the text, which empowers them to become more confident and capable readers. In addition, fluency passages build word recognition, increase automaticity, and help students read with better expression.
How to Use Fluency Passages
One of the great things about fluency passages is that they can be used in a variety of ways to support students as they work toward their individual oral reading fluency goals. Here are a few different ways this solution can be integrated into your literacy block:
- One-on-one: When using this approach, teachers might begin by reading the text aloud to provide a model of fluent reading. Then, they would invite the student to read the passage while listening for opportunities to provide guidance and feedback related to the student’s reading accuracy, speed, and/or expression. This may prompt the teacher to ask questions to evaluate reading comprehension.
- Paired reading: Students can work with a partner to read a fluency passage. During this time, teachers may opt to have students time one another, notate the number of words read, and/or provide constructive feedback to their peers to help them improve. Teachers can determine the best way to pair students, but they may want to consider pairing a more fluent reader with a less fluent reader, or two readers who read with similar fluency levels. If you are finding it difficult to pair students, try to select partners based on the specific needs of each potential pair.
- Independent reading: Students can read a fluency passage on their own while tracking the words that they read. As with paired reading, teachers may ask students to time themselves as they read independently. In addition, students can make note of the words that were challenging and of those that interfered with their speed or expression, allowing them to get better each time they read that particular passage.
Regardless of how teachers choose to implement fluency passages, each of these approaches can be used to help students set individual goals by receiving guidance and feedback from teachers and peers. Likewise, students can take time to reflect and set goals for themselves when reading independently.
The Benefits of Reading Fluency Passages
Devoting limited class time to any new activity can feel like a bit of a risk, but integrating fluency passages into your literacy block will only pay dividends in the future. Should you choose to utilize fluency passages in your classroom, here are a few benefits you can expect:
- Dedicated time to refine fluency: As with any skill, students need ample time to practice oral reading fluency. Fluency passages provide the practice that students need to become more fluent readers and can be easily integrated into any elementary classroom’s literacy block. In addition, fluency passages allow students to refine the components of fluency, accuracy, rate, and prosody.
- Accuracy: Accurate readers identify words correctly and automatically. When students are able to decode with ease, they can focus their efforts on understanding the text.
- Rate: When students read at an appropriate rate, their reading is effortless and automatic, which allows them to attend to the meaning of text. Not only does reading speed aid with comprehension, but it can also help students build the stamina necessary to read for longer periods of time.
- Prosody: Fluent readers read with expression, meaning they adjust the tone, rhythm, and pitch of their voices to ensure that they pause at the correct times and read with emotion. When reading with expression, readers should sound as though they are speaking. Reading with prosody is important because it can help readers deepen their understanding of the text and retain important information.
- Students read deeply: Students need to read a wide range of complex texts to become more proficient readers, but as Tim Rasinski, Ph.D. notes, it is also important to consider the depth of reading. When students spend multiple sessions working with the same passage, they develop more confidence and proficiency as readers. With the feedback and guidance of a teacher, students can utilize the fluency skills they develop through multiple readings of the same text and apply them to new texts that they encounter.
- Students hear how fluent reading sounds: When a teacher, a peer, or another fluent reader reads aloud, students are able to hear how fluent reading sounds, which can clarify some sounds they may be struggling with, remind them of how punctuation marks function as associated with meaning, or help them identify how a reader’s voice can contribute to the meaning of the text.
If you are currently witnessing any of the traits of less fluent readers on the right below, fluency passages may be a great place to start.
More Fluent Readers
- Read accurately
- Read at an appropriate rate
- Read with expression
- Read many different texts, often reading texts or parts of texts more than once
- Read frequently
Less Fluent Readers
- Struggle to decode or identify words automatically
- Read too quickly or too slowly
- Read robotically or without emotion
- May not read many texts
- May not read often
Incorporating Fluency Passages With Raz-Plus
Fluency passages have the power to make a significant impact, but finding the right resources can be difficult. If you are looking to integrate fluency passages in your literacy block, Raz-Plus is the solution for you. Providing a vast collection of Fluency Practice Passages at different levels of complexity, Raz-Plus ensures that all students have access to engaging resources that support oral reading fluency practice whether they are being used for one-on-one practice, independent timed reading, or paired readings. In addition, Raz-Plus presents passages by level and covers a variety of high-interest fiction and nonfiction topics, allowing teachers to address each student’s unique learning needs while keeping them engaged. As you consider if fluency passages are right for your classroom, we encourage you to learn more about the fluency passages available with Raz-Plus.
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- “What Is the Definition of Fluency in Reading?” Lexialearning.Com, Lexia, A Cambium Learning Group Brand, 21 Mar. 2023, www.lexialearning.com/blog/what-is-the-definition-of-fluency-in-reading.
- “Components of Fluency.” Five from Five, MultiLit Pty Ltd., 10 Jan. 2023, fivefromfive.com.au/fluency/components-of-fluency/#:~:text=1.