It is rightly said that when children are fluent, they begin to take flight into a whole new world effortlessly- just like young birds to the sky. As students progress, their reading ability should be adorned with the ability to infer. The reading potential of students starts to take off during this time which makes it perfect for refining their reading skills.
Reading fluency, thus, plays a major role in a child’s life. But on the other hand, research by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2018 gives an alarming number of 36% of young learners who have lower performance in reading smoothly. This brings us to the question of how to make students fluent, and eventually, better communicators?
One of the ways is entailing them in activities that motivate the students and lead to better academic results. In this post, we will look into what fluency is, its benefits, and finally, our favorite picks of activities for young learners which will boost their reading skills.
Reading Fluency- An imperative literacy skill
By definition, Fluency is the “ability to read, speak and write with appropriate speed, accuracy, and expression.”
Lack of reading fluency makes speech choppy and probably gnarly. A student should have the following attributes to ensure flow and ease:
- Ability to speak
Just knowing a handful of words is not enough. A student should be quick on the uptake to form sentences and speak fluently. However, forming sentences and speaking fluently also means accurately conversing at an appropriate speed. This also includes the ability to read fluently without breaking sentences or words in between.
- Ability to express
Expression is an important component of reading fluency. One can express views by being fluent. Thus, it is applicable to both reading and speaking. The perfect expression ensures comprehension as this directly implies the proper use of punctuation like commas and full stops while reading.
Reading Fluency activities- Effective for elementary kids?
Fluency activities don’t stop at making young learners great orators and communicators. It also helps in a plethora of other areas as well. From helping them secure a position in their circle to making them more confident, here are some of the benefits of fluency activities-
- Bridging word recognition and Comprehension
Having the ability to read is not enough to master the subject. Rather, the student needs to infer clearly. Reading fluency ensures the student focuses on what the text actually means. Thus they would be able to link up the word recognition with comprehension.
- Connect with People Better
With billions of people worldwide, a child may come across them with different intellectual and emotional levels. Fluency makes the connection with other individuals easier. For young learners, communicating in a rhythm helps them connect with peers, teachers, and neighbors better.
- Improves cognition and sharpness
Getting fluent is as important as picking up a new language. Acquiring a new lingo, and being smooth with it can improve cognitive abilities and sharpness. This will tickle their brains to think better and clearer, thus being fluent in their thoughts and speech.
- Improves working memory
In a research conducted by Meredyth Daneman in 1986, it was observed that verbal fluency results from working memory. This research touched all the tasks like speech and oral reading and corroborates that improving fluency leads to improved working memory too.
Important fluency goals for primary education
The reading fluency goals get tougher as the student passes through grades. Initially, the goal for a primary student would be reading a whole passage of around 80 words fluently, without any challenges. By the end of the session, this can be increased to 120 words with rigorous practice.
Teachers can plan to achieve this goal by conducting various activities. There are generally three approaches to doing so:
- Teacher-assisted activities: As the name suggests, the teacher assists students in activities in this approach. Generally, group activities are conducted in classrooms, hosted and guided by educators.
- Peer-assisted activities: Here students assist each other as a part of the activity. They are divided into small groups or pairs and assigned activities. This results in coordination and support to one another.
- Audio-assisted activities: This approach uses audio manipulatives to assist students in the activity. For instance, an audio version of a phrase is used to teach the correct spelling. Reading with audio is one such activity.
Fun fluency activities for 3rd grade students
In view of reading fluency goals and approaches for 3rd-grade students, here are our favorite fluency activities for your young learner:
1. Read with Audio
To start with, the teacher prepares a passage for students to read on paper, ensuring that the content is a grade above. That is since the students belong to 3rd grade, the content is of 4th-grade level. An audio version of the same is also prepared for the same.
In the classroom. Teachers distribute a copy of the passage to all the students. The audio is turned on, now students read at the same pace as the audio. This activity can be an individual or a group activity that ensures students read at the right pace.
2. Pair Up Reads
The whole class is initially arranged in pairs. Now, the reader from the first group starts reading the passage and the other listen to it till the first reader stops suddenly. When the first reader stops, the second reader should continue with the same. In case, the second reader could not follow, they can go back a few lines to catch the pace.
3. Scripts plays
When there is a larger audience, script plays work splendidly. In this activity, the teacher selects a passage or a play that matches the standards of 3rd grade. Now, students are selected for each character in the play and are given their piece of script. They can be given one day to rehearse. Next day, these students come together to read out the entire script together. Other students form the audience of the play along with the teacher. This activity replicates the aura of a theatre; thus it makes an exciting experience for students.
4. Repeat till Right
Students should first start with understanding and reading words. Later, they will come into the practice of reading fluently just like they are talking to someone. The teachers ask students to pick a sentence from one of the books and read it. Students need to observe the pace in the first place. Now, they are asked to read it for the second time and then for the third time. By this, students will notice the improvement each time.
5. Re-read Challenge
This activity tests the speed of reading, just like the previous activity. Here the student is given a long passage and is asked to read for a minute. An alarm marks the time. Now, students mark the word where they have stopped.
They again start reading the passage for the second time for a minute. After a minute, they check where they stopped again. They will observe that the speed of reading increases as the student repeats reading.
6. Diced Voice
To start with, a dice is prepared for this. The six sides have 6 modulations of speech like whispering, monster voice, singing voice, baby, robot voice, and mouse voice. Once a line is given, the student rolls the dice to see for the modulation. Now, the student needs to read the given line in the modulation that comes on dice. The change in modulation teaches the importance of tone along with reading fluency.
7. Text with emotion
Emotions play an important role in communication. Text with emotion ensures students know the importance of emotions along with fluency. Initially, the teacher arranges a set of cards that have a phrase or a sentence on them. Now, one student comes forward and picks one among these cards. They need to judge the emotion of the phrase and speak it out in the right tone of emotion. For instance, if the phrase is, “Oh my god, I won a Lottery”, this good news is read out on a happy and exciting note. Every student gets a chance to do this one after another.
8. Judge me Partner
This activity makes each student judge and comment on the fluency levels of another student. On the first day, the teacher gives a piece of passage to all the students. Students need to prepare by reading their passages. On the next day, the whole classroom is divided into pairs. Now, one among the pair reads out the passage, which the partner judges on a basis like remembered words, speed, smoothness, expressions, and emotions. The same is repeated with other people in the pair. This activity gives students to get more specific feedback forming a base to be more smooth and fluid.
9. Anchor Charts
An anchor chart is a brief of all the instructions that students need to follow to improve fluency in reading. The teacher prepares these charts and is updated regularly as students improve. Anchor charts can be great resources for the activity. Creative teachers find ways to make out daily activities from these charts. For instance, the teacher selects a postulate in the chart and focuses on it with activity in that period. Anchor charts need equal hands-on teachers and students.
Reading fluency activities form the base for students to learn some crucial and untouched parts of language like emotions, expressions, and tone. With the help of these activities, the student not only becomes fluent but is also able to communicate better. All this will eventually sow the seeds of confidence, making the future promising for students. Moreover, children will find themselves growing every passing day from faltering to achieving reading fluency.
Try helping your 3rd grader with the activities mentioned above and share the improvement and your feedback with us in the comment section below.
 White S. ( 2021, April 27). The 2018 NAEP Oral Reading Fluency Study.
 Daneman M. (1991, November) Working memory as a predictor of verbal fluency.
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