Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and quickly. When fluent readers read silently, they recognize words automatically. They group words quickly to help them gain meaning from what they read. Fluent readers read aloud effortlessly and with expression. Their reading sounds natural, as if they are speaking.
Fluency provides a vital bridge between word recognition and comprehension. Because fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding words, they can focus attention on what the text means.
Tips for Modeling Fluent Reading
When teachers model fluent reading for students, they focus on these key areas:
Speed and pacing: reading faster or slower to help show the meaning of the passage
Pausing: using the words and punctuation to figure out when to take a long or short break while reading
Inflection and Intonation: changing the voice (high or low, loud or soft) to help show the meaning of the passage; knowing when to emphasize certain words
Phrasing: reading related groups of words together to help the passage make sense
Expression: using different voices, facial expressions, and body language to help show the meaning of the passage
Accuracy: reading the words correctly
Integration: combining all the skills in a way that shows the reader understands the text
Teachers can help students to practice reading fluently by using a gradual release of responsibility. At first, the teacher thinks aloud and demonstrates the skill and guides students as they practice. Then with support and encouragement, the teacher allows students to try the activity with a partner or on their own.