How to Teach Reading Fluency


Hey, y'all! Thanks for stopping by today to learn how to teach reading fluency. Fluency is something most people don't even think about when it comes to reading. We tend to think..the kids learns to read, then they need to learn to understand what they are reading, and that's it.

Not quite.

Reading with fluency is all about reading at an appropriate pace with appropriate expression. Reading with fluency directly impacts comprehension. If a child is constantly stopping to sound out words, they may be able to finish the text accurately. However, they probably didn't understand much of what they read. When a child reads with expression, it shows a deep understanding of what they read. This is hugely important when you are teaching to mastery. Remember, we are not teaching kids to pass or get by, we are teaching them to master skills. That means, they need to be fluent readers. (Why should you teach for mastery? coming soon)


If you want to know more about why it is so important to teach reading fluency, I have a blog headed your way. For now, let's get to what you came here to learn: how to teach reading fluency.


Guys, this is not as hard as you think. There are three very simple steps to teach reading fluency.

  1. Do a cold reading inventory with each child

  2. Practice Daily

  3. Do a final reading inventory with each child

Simple, right? Okay, maybe I need to be a bit more detailed...

Step 1: Do a cold reading inventory with each child


You are going to select an article on the READING LEVEL of your children. DO NOT go by their grade level. You need to use articles for the level each student is reading on.

No, you do not need a different article for each child. You just need to have different articles for different reading levels.

Example: If I were teaching 1st grade, I might have students on a K reading, 1st grade reading level, and 2nd grade reading level. (If you have students on pk level, I have a blog headed your way.) I would need to have an article for each of these reading levels.

You will use the articles to do a reading inventory with each child (if you do not know how to do a reading inventory, my blog How to Assess Reading Fluency is coming soon). You can find free articles to use for you reading inventory on ReadWorks.

Step 2: Practice Daily


DO NOT send this home for homework! If you want students to just have extra extra practice, you can send it home...but please do not rely on that. You will end up having several students not read it daily (even if their parents have signed the sheet) or it will be practiced wrong. (Does it really matter if I read to my child every day? coming soon) Practiced wrong?

Yes, you are going to use a very specific method of practice. Students are going to do what I call "finger to word" following. They are not going to read it themselves.

This is a great way to utilize a TA or volunteers! Have a TA or volunteer work with one or two students at a time. The TA/volunteer will read the article with fluency (pacing and expression). Students will follow along with their finger on the word.

Students may need help following along in the beginning. Resist the urge to move their finger for them. This will only cause them to not follow along for themselves. They will not be looking at the words and the practice will be pointless. Instead, point out where you are if they get lost and wait for them to catch up.

Be sure to train your TA/volunteer on exactly how to do this before you set them free. You want to make sure it is being practiced correctly. Remember, this is why we aren't sending it for homework.

Step 3: Do a final reading inventory with each child.


At the end of the week (or every 2 weeks), do a final reading inventory with the article they have been practicing. You should see major growth from their cold reading inventory.

Now the key of this strategy of how to teach reading fluency is consistency. You can't do this once and expect it to have all your students reading fluently. NO! You have to keep doing it. This should be part of your routine all year. As a matter of fact, I include reading fluency as part of all my book studies.

Want more? You can find some of my reading fluency passages in the following products:


Strega Nona's Harvest Book Study

Uncle Vova's Tree Unit Study (coming soon)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas Unit Study (coming soon)

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