Fluency in the Primary Grades: Level A through Level C

From Fountas & Pinnell’s Teaching for Comprehending & Fluency

Last week we discussed the role of whole group literacy routines in building/modeling fluency. This included a variety of shared reading routines that provide opportunities for students to “internalize the structures of written language while giving some attention to print.” Once students begin tracking print; however, we encourage them to abandon the fluency that has been achieved during these reading reenactments.

Our goal at this point (Levels A & B) is to ensure that students are developing one-to-one correspondence, but bursts of fluency should still be present (and encouraged!) – particularly as students work on rereading routines. When young readers become stuck in word-by-word processing (and many will at these levels), we must explicitly instruct our students to read in small phrases (i.e. “We like to…”) and to slide their finger. 

As students move into Level C, they will “extend their repertoire to longer lines of text, longer sentences, more lines of text on a page, and less repetition.” According to Fountas & Pinnell, we must not fall into the trap of encouraging finger pointing for too long and that sliding our finger/reading with our eyes should become habit after only several weeks at this level.  Although, the trusty dusty finger is perfectly acceptable to assist with more difficult text passages, students should already be “reading faster than they can point.”


While we work with students to encourage fluency, we must remember that fluent processing does not follow a “strict sequence,” although these transitions should show steady progress over time.  Therefore it is essential that we expose students to a variety of genres, text levels (i.e. rereading “easy” texts), and teacher supports ensuring that by Level D the “eyes have taken over the process!”

Feel free to share activities you have utilized to promote fluency in the comments section below…and stop by the Curriculum Corner Facebook Page to see a great fluency anchor chart/strategy prompt template!



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