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Teaching Tips

Monday-to-Friday Fluency: Four Ways to Select Texts and Do Shared Reading

July 10, 2024

by: Dr. Melanie Kuhn

6 mins


Say the word fluency, and the idea of accuracy, speed, and expression springs to mind. But what does being fluent really do for the reader? Why is it so vital to becoming a proficient reader? Fluency can be thought of as a link between word recognition and comprehension. Fluency allows your students to become independent readers who can both decode a text and understand what they are reading (Kuhn, 2020).  

Fluency is an important component of the literacy curriculum, generally for second and third-grade students whose reading is typically developing and for older students who have experienced difficulties becoming fluent readers.  

If you are a teacher who feels stuck in a single type of fluency routine, and perhaps using only one type of text, the following are a few research-backed ways to bring in a greater variety of experiences for developing readers.  

Go Long and Wide to Build Students’ Fluency 

Reading longer texts. While repeated readings often use short texts (poems, passages of 100 words, etc.), it is possible to use longer material. Consider selections from literature anthologies, short trade books, and texts from websites such as NASA Space Place – NASA Science for Kids.

Wide reading. Fluency instruction is often based upon repetition, yet it can be developed through “wide” reading--the reading of multiple texts--as well.  My research colleagues and I have found using trade books on a specific topic works very well. For example, you could have students read several books on the Egyptian Pyramids. If the text is well written and engaging for students, really, any material is possible. Focus on content and concepts you cover in the classroom, from poems and trade books to social studies, science, or language arts textbooks. 

The advantage of using wide reading (a variety of selections) and longer texts is that students are exposed to more vocabulary and to a broader range of concepts. These flexible, varied approaches to fluency instruction and practice also allow students to read texts that are more challenging than ones they can independently; this exposure ensures that students who are behind their peers have access to the same material as their classmates. 

Four Ways to Use Texts in Shared Reading  

1. Fluency-Oriented Oriented Reading Instruction (FORI)

When working with the entire class, the shared reading selection can be used for fluency instruction. This can be done in two ways. First, the shared reading text can be read multiple times (i.e., repeated reading). Using Fluency-Oriented Reading Instruction, or FORI, a research-based approach, the reading of the text occurs four times. 

Day One: Pre-teaching or introductory activities take place; the teacher reads the text while the students follow along, then a discussion occurs.  

Day Two: Students participate in an echo reading with the teacher. 

Day Three: Students can do a choral reading.

Day Four: Students can do a partner reading. 

Day Five: On the final day, students and teachers can engage in further discussion and extension activities to expand the students’ understanding. 

2. Wide Fluency-Oriented Reading Instruction, or Wide FORI

The second shared-reading approach, Wide Fluency-Oriented Reading Instruction, or Wide FORI. involves using multiple texts. The first selection should be the primary reading for the week since it will be covered over three days.  

Day One: Follows Day One of the FORI procedure; the text is introduced, the teacher reads it while the students follow along, and then there is a discussion of the material.

Day Two: consists of an echo reading of the selection.  

Day Three: Involves any further discussion along with extension activities.  

Days Four and Five: New texts are introduced and read on each of these days. Both days consist of the echo reading and discussion of that day’s material.  

In my research study, both whole-class approaches led to substantial gains for the students in terms of their word recognition, fluency, and comprehension.  

Small Group Variations 

In these next two approaches, the setting is small group reading. These options use slightly different formats but are successful with both fiction and nonfiction material (we used social studies text in our research). Since these approaches are designed for a maximum of six students, they can be used with supplemental texts or the primary selection for the week. 

3. Fluency-Oriented Oral Reading (FOOR)

The FOOR approach uses one text selection that is read over three days. The groups meet for 20–30-minute sessions on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  

On Monday, the students and teacher echo read and discuss the story or nonfiction text.  

On Wednesday, the students and teacher choral read the selection and engage in further discussion; a focus on word meanings or other activities can also take place as time allows.  

On Friday, the students are paired, and they partner-read the selection. Since they have already read the material twice before, they should be able to read the text fairly competently by this point. However, if it is still a struggle for them, it is worth considering simpler material until the students develop greater fluency.  

4. Wide Fluency-Oriented Oral Reading (Wide FOOR) 

The Wide FOOR uses new material for each of the three sessions. That is, the students should echo read and discuss a new text on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. When using social studies or science selections, select a specific topic (e.g., the Statue of Liberty) for each week’s reading; doing so is likely to have the best results.  

Research Highlights 

The results from work with second graders using fiction and third graders using social studies texts both showed growth in word recognition, fluency, and comprehension. However, in both the whole-class and small-group, fiction showed the Wide FOOR and the Wide FORI groups made the greatest growth, but the repeated readings groups still made greater gains than would be typical of their peers. 

One major difference between the whole-class lessons and those for small groups is that FOOR and Wide FOOR were designed as an intervention for students who were reading below grade level (Tier Two). However, these approaches could be used with any small group of students reading the primary text in the literacy or the social studies curriculum (Tier One). 

Giving ALL Students Access to Grade Level Texts 

In all these approaches, students read material that is more challenging than they could read on their own. This is because of the scaffolding provided by the teacher during the actual reading process. By helping students read challenging material, it becomes possible to lessen the gap that exists between those students who are experiencing difficulty with their reading and their peers who are experiencing greater success. Students who take part in this form of instruction are learning to consolidate their word recognition in text while expanding their vocabulary and conceptual knowledge. As a result, they are more likely to experience success when reading on their own. For more on the importance of using grade-level texts, see Timothy Shanahan’s episode

Concluding Thoughts 

Fluency instruction is an important skill to develop once students have established basic decoding skills and are ready to develop their automaticity and their ability to integrate prosodic elements (e.g., pausing, stress) into their reading. And, since reading development does not occur in a lockstep manner, working with students to develop their fluency can also improve their word recognition and comprehension, making it well worth the instructional time invested in it.  

Watch the full episode of Literacy Matters with Dr. Melanie Kuhn today.

About the Author

Melanie R. Kuhn, Ph.D., is Professor and Jean Adamson Stanley Faculty Chair in Literacy at Purdue University. In addition to reading fluency, her research interests include literacy instruction for struggling readers, and comprehension and vocabulary development. Her instructional experience includes clinic work, and teaching in the Boston Public Schools. She is the co-author of Developing Fluent Readers: Teaching Fluency as a Foundational Skill. Dr. Melanie Kuhn


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