5 Core Components of Reading - Fluency

Hey there friends,

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We’re back again with the fourth of five core components of literacy. This week we are talking all about, you guessed it:

Reading Fluency

Reading fluency is really important however, we need to be careful not to over-emphasize its importance as one of the core components of literacy. I say this because Reading Fluency is one of the most common goals you will see created for struggling students.

Which is great, in theory.

I see why we would want to focus on reading fluency, there’s the idea that stronger reading fluency can create stronger reading comprehension which makes sense and research supports this to be true.

And….it’s easy to measure for those measurable goals right?!?

Yes and….

We have to keep in mind that reading fluency is a result of strong instruction in our other core components of literacy: phonological awareness, phonics, and vocabulary.

So when we create a reading fluency goal, we need to make sure that we reaching that goal by providing targeted instruction in the other core areas of literacy, not just through practicing repeated reads, choral reads, and many of the other strategies we’ve been given to improve reading fluency. Repeated reads do not necessarily contribute to generalization to other passages/reading material so we need to be sure we aren’t relying on that as our sole intervention.

We also need to make sure we are asking ourselves the big question -

What is reading fluency?

Okay, it may seem like a silly question. But we must remember that to target fluency we need to be addressing both:

Rate (speed of reading) and accuracy

Too often, far too much pressure is being put on faster, faster, faster - which we don’t necessarily want. We want to make sure that students are reading at the rate of spoken language, not faster, not slower.

We want to read at the rate of spoken language because our brains were designed to listen to spoken words and process that information - our brains weren’t designed to read. So when we read, we need to make sure that our brain is processing that information that we are “sub-vocalizing” which basically means reading silently to ourselves or that we are reading aloud.

Once we are aware that speed is not the most critical component, we may still be wondering:

How can I improve reading fluency?

  1. Make sure you are providing instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, and vocabulary

  2. Teach students to segment their sentences into subject, predicate, adverbial (who/what, did what, why/when/how) so they can start to hear the natural flow and breaks of a sentence.

  3. Provide students with an opportunity to complete repeated reads - recognize oftentimes they are memorizing the passage, we know this, but what it creates is an opportunity to hear and feel what fluent reading sounds like

  4. Provide students with choral reading opportunities in which students read aloud together (again, we know some students may not be reading all the words, this is okay, we want them to feel the intonation and pace even if they aren’t reading independently).

So there are our quick reading fluency tips - if you’re interested in learning more about how to support your students’ reading and writing abilities, join us for our free upcoming training - 7 Steps to Reading Instruction that Works!