Reading Without Limits

Maddie Witter

Teaching Fluency for Older Readers


There is a much needed place for fluency instruction in middle and high schools.  Researchers found that fluency work is neglected in secondary school, and better fluency leads to better reading comprehension. The Common Core doesn’t list explicitly list fluency work past grade six. However, it’s implicit if we want our students recognizing 95% of the words they read.

Figure Out What Your Kids Can and Can’t (Yet) Do Firstly, determine how well your students read aloud.  Find a book that is on their comfort level, and listen in as they read aloud.  Are they

– pausing at punctuation?

– reading with expression?

– reading at an appropriate rate?

– reading “in chunks”?

Put Time in Your Schedule for Fluency Work Spend some time with your students working on fluency.  Try a picture book unit or create opportunities in your classes for kids to read aloud at least once a week.

Try This Fun Strategy with Older Readers I find one of the hardest skills to teach kids is “reading in chunks”.  Basically, that means that readers read a series of words and take breaths at appropriate stopping points.  I love fluency boats for teaching proper phrasing.

Fluency Boats

Take a paragraph.  Create a “fluency boat” (you don’t have to make it look like a boat to save teacher time) for each sentence.  Do this for every sentence of the paragraph.  Students read each line of the “boat”.  After each line, they take a breath.  This activity helps them build their capacity to read more words before taking a breath.  After doing this line by line for each sentence, they end by reading the paragraph as it’s written on the page.

Fluency Boat 2

One middle school teacher just shared that she tried it with Hunger Games, and her kids loved it.  They thought it was a game!  Best part, she said there was remarkable fluency improvement by the end of the activity.

Check out these resources for more ways to build fluency for older readers!

Middle School Teacher to Literacy Coach

 How and Why to Teach Fluency

Teaching Oral Reading Fluency to Older Students

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