By 5th grade, we often pray to the fluency gods every summer that our students can read a range of texts fluently. But often, our prayers go unanswered, and we have students who still sound like robots when reading. Although fluency is not always a huge deal if students still understand the text. We, as teachers, still want to help them improve. Students may struggle to sound out words, lack confidence in their ability, or just don’t have the background knowledge on a subject to feel like they can read the passage fluently. It’s helpful to let students practice reading passages and become familiar with unfamiliar topics using reading fluency passages.
5 Reasons To Use Fluency Practice Passages
I’ve been sending home reading fluency passages with students for a couple of years now. Some classes have had them for weekly homework, and others have taken them home on an as-needed basis. It always depends on the group and the students. Here are five of the reasons I use reading fluency passages.
Practice passages can help students build background knowledge on different topics. I often would send home passages that covered topics we will start learning about the next week or allow students to practice their fluency and build background knowledge on the topic. I love hearing students say things like, “oh, we read about this last week with our fluency reading.” Or if I have a struggling reader, they often feel more confident when answering questions in the classroom and participate if I give them reading fluency passages on the topic beforehand.
I also have given students the passages after they have learned about a topic and have some background knowledge. I found students often are more confident when reading their practice fluency passages after they have a little background knowledge. Content-specific words are easier for them to figure out, or they recognize them a little faster.
Letting students either build or use their background knowledge is always helpful in the long run!
Grade Level Reading Practice
I’ve always believed in ensuring students the opportunity to read and comprehend texts on their reading level and giving them texts on grade level. Eventually, they will reach a point, whether it’s high school, college, or after, where there is no “reading level,” and all texts are just texts. It is good to give them practice using strategies of sounding out, context clues, etc., to help them determine words, and just have to think a little harder to comprehend a text.
I have never had students who didn’t rise to the challenges I gave them. When I set my standards high, I see my students reach and often conquer them! It’s amazing what little minds can do.
I get that graphic novels are all the rage right now, and many students are absolutely eating them up! But sadly, many of them miss out on many topics and authors. Although there have been some GREAT non-fiction and really powerful graphic novels coming out lately.
I like to use reading fluency passages to help my students learn more about the world around them and even topics they may not come across in their readings. Pollution, the United Nations, and fossils are topics they read about in my non-fiction fluency passages and fiction!
After students read the fluency passages, I always have comprehension questions that I want them to answer. These are important because it shows me what they are understanding about the text and what they have yet to grasp. I don’t want my comprehension questions to feel like “got ya” for not reading questions or to feel like a quiz. But, they are helpful and great data that I can use to help plan comprehension lessons for students in small groups or even whole group instruction if I notice a lot of my class missed a question.
Students love to watch themselves grow, and I love providing them with the opportunity to chart their growth. It’s always a good time when a child plops themselves down at my table and goes, “I didn’t grow!” in the most dramatic voice ever while handing in their reading fluency passages. We’ll often have a little laugh and discuss why they think this happened and what strategies they are going to work on for next week.
My students know that I am not testing them when I send home these fluency passages. They understand I am just giving them practice opportunities to become a stronger, faster reader. So, we always have a light-hearted attitude when talking about them.
Where can I Use Reading Fluency Passages?
I often use my reading fluency passages as weekly reading homework. But if you’re a teacher who doesn’t like to give homework or your school doesn’t want students taking work home each night. Then there are plenty of other ways for you to use these passages.
- Informal running record
- Center activity
- Small group assessment
- Partner work
- Sub plans
The list goes on and on! You can use these printable fluency passages in so many ways!
Whether you want to add fluency passages to homework, center work, or just use an informal running record, there are so many reasons that they are helpful and engaging for students. I love reading fluency passages and all the ways you can use them in your classroom.
Now, don’t freak out if you don’t teach 5th grade. I know that fluency passages are needed in many grade levels! That’s why I have reading fluency passages available for 1st-5th. Each fluency pack includes fiction and non-fiction readings along with comprehension questions for each one. You’re also given the lexile level for each one as well!
You’re probably wondering…”But what if I have a child reading below or above grade level?” I’ve got you covered there too! I’ve got a reading fluency passage BUNDLE that has all grade levels included. Just click here.