Bryant Foreman
Reading Fluency

Reading with Expression, Fluency, and Accuracy Makes Reading FUN!

        In order for children to read effectively, reading comprehension and reading fluency must be fully developed.  Learning to decode enables children to improve sight recognition.  When children begin to decode at a fast rate, the decoding becomes almost automatic.  Once this happens, children can concentrate on the meaning of the text and will thus gain better comprehension.  Automatic decoding also helps children read more fluently, which in turn helps with reading comprehension.  In order to read fluently, a child must be able to read words and sentences faster, smoother, and more expressively.  Repeated reading is essential in helping children master fluency. Repeated readings allow children to practice with a familiar text until they read with great accuracy and understanding.  Becoming a fluent reader makes reading much more enjoyable for children.  This lesson will help children with reading fluency.  Reading expressively will be the main focus, although reading faster and smoother should also be taught as well.


1. Introduce the lesson by asking the students if they have ever listened to a really good storyteller.  “How did the way she read the story make it so interesting?  Raise your hand if you remember.”  Reading a story is similar to telling a story. While reading in itself is very important, using lots of expression helps keep your audience's attention and makes reading more enjoyable. Some ways of expressing our reading voice is changing how loud or soft our voice is, changing how fast we read, or changing the pitch of our voice. “Today we are going to practice these different ways of expressing our reading.”

2. Begin the lesson by talking to the children in a very monotone voice, speaking slowly and chopped as well. Then reply, “If I sounded like this all day every day I would be a very boring and most of you would probably fall asleep!”  Today we are going to talk about the correct and incorrect ways to read. (Demonstrate the correct way to read by reading a selected passage quickly and smoothly. Demonstrate the wrong way to read by reading a passage choppy and without expression). Explain to the students that to be a good reader, you must read fast but slow enough to understand and you must read smoothly and with emotion.  Give the students a scenario: If I were telling you that a bee was going to sting you for being too close to the hive, I wouldn’t say it slowly and dully, “Uh oh, a bee is going to sting you.” I would say it quickly and with feeling and excitement.  “Watch out!  A bee is about to sting you! Get away from it!” We use expression when speaking.  Lets pretend we are mad at our neighbor and tell him we are upset with him or her using lots of expression.  Now lets try saying the same thing with no expression.  Which one is better?  (Do the same for the emotions happy, sad, excited, etc)

3. Now we are going to practice reading fluently by reading our I Can Read books.   (Place children in pairs and have one student read their favorite I Can Read book and the other student use a check sheet to record the reading.  Make sure the books are in the students’ instructional level.) Repeated readings require a child to read a book three times.  During the first reading, the child with the check sheet watches for expression such as high and low voice, silent and loud voice, and also reading fast and slow, and more smoothly.  After the second reading, the child would check the box under the categories: remembered more words, read faster, read smoother, read with expression.  After the third reading, the child would again check the appropriate boxes under those categories.  A box will not be checked if a category would not be met.  Also, no advice or criticism is allowed.  Once the three readings are done, the children would switch places.  The check sheets would be given to the teacher for evaluation and put into their portfolios.  [Note: If a teacher were to work with a student individually, he or she could use one minute readings, recording the number of words read and graphing it on a chart.  More information and an example of a repeated reading checklist can be found using the link under references.]

4. Depending on the students, a review may be necessary before reading books fluently.  Reviewing cross-checking would help the students with reading more fluently.  Cross-checking is like proofreading.  We go back to the word that does not make sense in the sentence and reread it.  When we read it correctly the second time, the sentence will be clear.  Model cross-checking by reading a sentence saying a word wrongly.  Go back and correct it.  Cover-ups are also good to review.  Cover up a word letter by letter or by digraphs and blends and see if that helps figure out a hard word.  Separating a word into syllables or chunks may help as well.  Model Cover-ups by giving a few words to break apart as examples. (write words on board for everyone to see)

5. Divide the class into groups of 3, 4, or 5 depending on the class size.  Assign an “I can read” book to each group.  Explain to the class that each group is going to take turns reading the book to each other.  This can be done by dividing the book by pages or if time is available, having each child read the whole book to the group members.  Tell the students that when they are done reading, they are to assign a character to each group member and practice reading some of their lines with expression and fluency.  After a set time, each group will come to the front of the class and give a quick book talk and will read their lines with expression and fluency along with acting to make the presentation more fun and enjoyable.  For example, if a child’s character is angry, the child would read that line to the others in front of the class with expression and with fluency while stomping his or her feet.  Have every group give their presentations.

6. After the presentations, have the students write sentences that can be read easily with expression and fluency.  Students may write one or two sentences each for the expressions angry, sad, excited, happy, and afraid.  They can use what they remember from experiences or even from the presentations just given or the books they have just read.  While the students are writing their sentences, pass out note cards with the words angry, excited, happy, sad, and afraid.  When the students are done writing the sentences, have them pick their favorite sentence to read to the class.   The class will then hold up their cards stating which emotion the student was trying to portray.  Eventually the sentences will be given to the teacher and put in the students’ portfolios.

7. For assessment, I would take children individually and have them read a passage to me.  I would have a checklist of the different expressions found in the passage that they should be expressing.  I would then ask the student general questions to make sure he or she is comprehending the passage and not just worrying about reading fluently and expressively.  Once again these results will go into their portfolios to progress improvement throughout the year.  While each student is being assessed, the rest of the class will have DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read.)  This will give students the opportunity to read silently and discover the pleasure of reading.  Students can choose a favorite book or magazine.  Quiet discussions about their reactions and a recommendation to other classmates is appropriate and will help gain other students’ interests in reading.


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