Being able to read fluently—meaning with speed, accuracy, and expression—is an important literacy skill for students to develop. When students are able to read without stumbling over words (and with appropriate tone and expression) their comprehension will improve, and they’ll enjoy reading even more.
Of course, reading aloud to students is one of the most effective ways to improve fluency, and it’s also one of the easiest. To improve fluency during your read-aloud time, all you need are a few good books and your students’ undivided attention. Once you have that, here’s what to do next:
1. Be a good model
When reading aloud to your students, be sure to model the reading process. By hearing you use proper expression and pronunciation, your students will pick up on those cues and translate them to their own reading.
2. Take a time out
While reading aloud, read the book first all the way through, and then read it again, stopping in places that may pose a challenge or introduce a new concept to students.
When you take a time out during reading, you’ll show your students that it’s okay to stop and ask questions. You can also begin teaching them how to use context clues to learn new vocabulary or understand complex topics—an important skill when it comes to reading fluency.
3. Encourage a role reversal
Have students work in pairs and read aloud a book from their favorite series or collection. When students are able to read aloud fluently themselves, they’ll take what they’ve learned and apply it to their own quiet, independent reading.
4. Focus on specific reading skill
Read-alouds, especially ones your students already know and love, are great tools for practicing critical reading skills that will improve fluency. Sight words are often a challenge for early readers, so take the time during your read-aloud to point out sight words, using the book as an introduction to further sight word learning.
5. Turn your read-aloud into a performance piece
Transforming your read-aloud into a full-blown performance is another great way to improve reading fluency. Choose a prepared script for your reader’s theater, or better yet, adapt your own from a favorite read-aloud to give your young readers and aspiring playwrights the opportunity to bring a story to life in your classroom.
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