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Teaching for Fluency All Day, Every Day

You can teach for fluency every day, all day. Every time you read to or with children, you teach for fluency whether you mean to or not. When you read aloud to children, you model fluent reading. When you ask children to read with you, children emulate and practice fluent reading. When you listen to children read, you can observe the ways in which they are fluent. Here are a few tips for how to integrate intentional teaching for fluency, without adding anything to your day.  

Take Every Opportunity to Observe 

You don’t have to wait for “assessment season” to find out what children know about fluency. Every time children read aloud, you can observe what they know about phrasing, intonation, pace, punctuation, and how they orchestrate them to sound fluent. You can take notes as you listen to children read during small group reading instruction, as you sit with them for conferences during independent reading, and as you listen to how they read with you during shared reading. Collecting brief notes about your observations of children’s fluency across the day and week will be invaluable as it will strengthen your understanding of what to help children attend to during your lessons.  

Make the Most of Interactive Read Aloud and Shared Reading 

Make the most of every read aloud or shared reading experience as an opportunity to model fluent reading, even if you have another focus. This means don’t just read the book, read it as if you feel the book. Give some thought to how characters are feeling, why they are acting as they are, and what purpose the author had for writing the story to help you adjust your emphases and intonation in a meaningful way. For non-fiction books, know how features such as bolded words, hyphens, dashes, and picture captions should be reflected in your voice.  

Consider this sentence from Denslow’s Three Bears (1903, p. 3) when Golidlocks first happens upon the dwelling of the three bears:   

“So, this is where the jolly bears live!”  

What would you do with your voice as you read this aloud, and why?  

I might read it like this:  

“So, this is where the jolly bears live!” [emphasis my own] 

I would do so with a surprised tone in my voice with the word this emphasized, to reflect that Goldilocks has come across new information for the first time.  

No matter what your intended focus is, every time you read to or with children, you model fluent reading and can call children’s attention to the fact that you have done something with your voice to reflect the meaning behind the text. You might ask, What did I do with my voice as I was reading? Why do you think I did that?  

Rethink Morning Meeting 

Morning meetings are a useful time to come together as a class, build community amongst children, and help children get to know one another, all while learning something new. Instead of using a greeting, or a fill in the word message every day, why not regularly read a great poem? Poetry has a way of evoking emotion and connections through language and thoughtful delivery. Children will learn about each other by sharing their thoughts, connections, and feelings about poignant poems and you will model fluent reading or have them join in on fluent reading with you. You can call attention to what you do with your voice and why you did it as you do with interactive read aloud.  

Conclusion 

When it comes to teaching for fluency, you can do so every day, all day without adding time to or removing things from your schedule by using the reading you and your students already do as opportunities to model, practice, observe and enjoy fluency.   

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