How to Develop Fluency

How to Develop Fluency

Posted by Brainspring on 20th May 2014

Hi everyone,

To help you get through the middle of your week I have the first post in our Questions and Answers series, where I find answers to the questions you post, email or ask me.  Whether you are a teacher, tutor, administrator, parent, butcher, baker or candlestick maker, none of us have all the answers.  Yet we are also all an expert at something.  This series is about tapping into different areas of expertise for the benefit of our students.


StephanieOur first expert is Stephanie Cork at RLAC.  As an integral part of both the tutoring and training aspects of what we do, her fingerprints are on everything.  She has been our Director of Education, a Center Director, instructor and tutor.  This woman knows her stuff!  She worked a lot with me when I was preparing to become an instructor and most of what I know is thanks to her.  I am so happy she agreed to be our first expert!

How can I work on connected-text fluency with my students once they can read words in isolation?


Stephanie’s Answer:

 The repeated reading strategy is an excellent technique for developing fluency. Students need to be able to do more than just decode words properly. They need to read with inflection and tone. Building fluency for struggling readers requires multiple readings of texts, each with a different skill emphasis.  The first time text is read, the focus is on decoding the words. The second or even the third time the same passage is read, the student is able to begin to focus on fluency, read with inflection and tone, attend to punctuation and improving their timing.  This can be compared to practicing a musical instrument. A teacher would never give a student a new song, have them practice it once, and declare they have mastered it. Reading short passages 3-5 times promotes the transition from using the front left Broca’s area of the brain for decoding words to the back left portions of brain where more advanced reading takes place.


The Repeated Reading Strategy:

  1. The teacher selects a short section of text.  For a very young student or emerging reader this may only be a few sentences or phrases and for an older student this may be up to two short paragraphs.

  2. The student reads the selected text. The student is focusing on decoding the words in the passage.

  3. The teacher (or a fluent partner) reads the same chunk to model fluency; using inflection and tone.

  4. The student reads the same text again. The teacher gives suggestions to the student such as “This time when you read, I want you to look for the punctuation and pause briefly between sentences” or “When you read, let’s work on inflection and emphasize important words with your voice”.

  5. The student then reads the selected text one more time and then can continue with the rest of the passage if applicable.

Thanks Stephanie!  Repeated Reading is a fantastic strategy for building fluency in students of all ages.  A younger student might work on paying attention to and pausing at the periods; an older student might work on reading with the emotion of a character.

Try this strategy with your students and comment here with your results!


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Questions and Answers will be posted bi-weekly.


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