Fluency in the Primary Grades: Fluency & Emergent Readers

From Fountas & Pinnell’s Teaching for Comprehending & Fluency

All literacy learning (fluency included) is grounded in oral language development. As we know, children who enter school having been exposed to read aloud routines by their parents and who have been provided opportunities to “navigate” language are at a distinct advantage over students who have not. It is through this modeling that children “retell texts they have heard over and over, using smooth, expressive language.” It is also at this point, that emergent readers have learned text handling skills and how to glean information from illustrations, resulting in accurate (and even sometimes embellished!) retellings. While these students are not yet processing print, they are displaying a deep understanding of what reading should sound like, and are displaying early fluency and comprehension skills.

Students who enter school without these experiences need a great deal of text/language exposure to close the gaps, but it is possible to build this foundation quickly!  Below are some ideas that might help reinvigorate your shared reading literacy routines.  As we provide these opportunities for our students, it is imperative that explicit instruction takes place throughout, including specific “metacognitive conversations” that pertain to the Six Dimensions.  It should also be noted that it is not necessary to utilize an entire text!  Stick to the most relevant and/or exciting portions…after all, there are only so many hours in the day!  Lastly, as you explore each concept, consider the impact that these rereading routines will have when students are engaged at literacy workstations.

  • Big Book: If you have a copy of a picture book and the corresponding Big Book, introduce the class to the picture book first. Once students have had the story read to them, you can introduce the Big Book on a following day (this can also be done via a document camera if you do not have a “big book”). Once the text is familiar to students, they will feel comfortable reading along with you and can be given the opportunity take turns reading various phrases with expression. After this routine has been modeled, it can be integrated into a “Big Book” literacy workstation! Our young students just love to reread their favorites & can’t wait to get their hands on the teacher’s pointer!
  • Rhythmic Texts: Since rhythmic texts are easy to memorize (and provide a natural prosody), students usually feel comfortable reading poems, songs and nursery rhymes in class. When introducing a new song or poem, read it first to the class (even adding motions!) and then give students the opportunity to read. This is an authentic way to deviate from the standard “morning message” routines and will allow students to quickly feel success as they read out loud and “talk like a book”!
  • Pocket Charts: A pocket chart can be utilized to organize portions of text written on sentence strips. This can include transcribed portions of our “rhythmic texts” or even portions from a Big Book. Once these are placed into the pocket chart, we can reread and even mix up the sentences so they are not in the correct order, challenging our students to catch the mistakes! Just like the Big Book routine, this makes for an engaging literacy workstation as well, allowing students to sequence and retell their favorite stories!
  • Interactive Writing Pieces: Interactive writing pieces (or the “morning message” routine) can be saved and referenced during shared reading time. Students will love seeing their own work as part of the lesson! Read the text together as a group or give individual students a chance to play teacher and demonstrate fluency as they read to their classmates!
  • Reader’s Theater: This is an engaging (and fun) way to help readers read with fluency and can be a direct follow-up to our Big Book routines.  Once students have read any text with dialog, we can easily turn the text into a script and perform for each other!




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