Friday, September 17, 2010

Teaching Fluency

I haven't talked about fluency specifically yet -- that I remember anyway.

Fluency, or reading smoothly with expression at a talking pace, is something I believe we have to make a point to clearly teach kids.

They hear us read fluently, but there are a lot of complexities that kids don't just "pick up."

I teach kids that good readers can read fluently when they pay attention to the characters. They look at the illustrations for the expressions on characters faces or their body language. If there aren't pictures, I tell them to look for the words that help them make a picture in their minds. If their character is yelling, they need to know their character is angry, and their voice will reflect that.

We talk about what is going on -- is a character sad? Make your voice be sad. Are they happy? Sound that way! Look for the clues and think about the situation. If the character just got invited to a birthday party, they will talk like they are excited.

But not all reading is's different types of sentences too. So I teach them that fluent readers pay attention to punctuation. We tie this into our punctuation study in writing, so it's a double punch.

They learn that when you come to ... you pause with dramatic effect. When you see a comma, you pause. Periods, your voice stops but stays normal. Exclamation marks, your voice gets loud and stops. Question marks, your voice goes up and stops.

I also have them look at the font size and style. I teach them to make their voice louder when the font is bigger or bold, and softer for smaller or finer. We look at italics too, and find that when we see words like that, we need to make our voices a little different for emphasis.

Here's the caveat. They learn it, and then teach it. I have them buddy up with kindergarteners and teach them how to read fluently, incorporating all we talked about above, with Mo Willems' Piggie and Gerald Series.

It is powerful, and they don't forget it.

1 comment:

  1. I've been trying to teach this to my boys; I'll have to pull out the Elephant & Piggie books for my 7-year-old and 4-year-old to read together.