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Bringing Balanced Literacy Into Primary, Intermediate and Upper Grade Classrooms


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Reading fluency is defined as the ability to read quickly, accurately, and with expression. When students read fluently, they are able to pay more attention to comprehending the reading selections because they focus less attention on word recognition and decoding (Osborn, Lehr, & Hiebert, n.d.).

During fluency instruction, students are provided with a model of fluent reading that emphasizes expressiveness, accuracy, and appropriate reading rate. Following an initial introduction to the reading selection, students repeatedly practice oral and/or silent reading of the text. Research has shown that the explicit modeling of oral reading by teachers and repeated oral reading by students improves the students’ oral reading fluency. Fluency instruction is most effective in improving comprehension when students have multiple opportunities to practice reading a familiar text (Rasinski, 2003). While oral reading is a component of a classroom reading program, the use of round-robin oral reading as a classroom strategy is not effective.

The role of the teacher is:

To activate prior knowledge and set purpose for reading.

To discuss characteristics of a fluent reader.

To model fluent oral reading by explicitly demonstrating reading using punctuation, phrasing, and intonation.

To clarify meaning of a reading selection through modeling expressiveness and talking aloud about reading.

To have students participate in fluent reading of a selection as a class or individually.

To provide students with opportunities to independently practice fluent reading with a familiar text.

The role of the student is:

To think about the text and connect it to prior experience.

To read in a fluent and expressive manner at an appropriate rate and pace while recognizing and using punctuation.

To activate and use prior knowledge to anticipate words, phrases, and meaning while reading.

To monitor his/her expressiveness while making adjustments to phrasing and pacing during reading.

To practice reading fluently.

The observer will see:

The teacher modeling fluent, expressive reading during read aloud, shared reading, choral reading, or during individual reading conferences with students about both narrative and expository reading selections.

The teacher talking about the reading selection and discussing the use of intonation, punctuation, and the role of expressiveness in the meaning of the passage.

The students monitoring and adjusting their reading for expressiveness, phrasing, and pacing.

The students engaging in choral or paired reading of familiar text.

The students reading orally in a fluent and expressive manner.


Barr, R., Blachowicz, C., Katz, C., & Kaufman, B. (2002). Reading diagnosis for teachers: An instructional approach. (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education Company.

Osborn, J., Lehr, F., & Hiebert, E. (n.d.). A focus on fluency. Retrieved July 2, 2004, from Pacific Resources for Education and Learning the Regional

Educational Laboratory at PERL Web site:

Pinnell, G.S., & Scharer, P. (2003). Teaching for comprehension in reading grades K-2: Strategies for helping children read with ease, confidence, and understanding. New York: Scholastic Professional Books.

Rasinski, T. (2003). The fluent reader: Oral reading strategies for building word recognition, fluency, and comprehension. New York: Scholastic Professional Books.

CPS Grades 4-8 Literacy Observation Guidelines 22