Teaching Comprehension and Fluency

It’s true one little passage, taught the right way, can help every kid in your class!
How Tweet it is FluencyThe lows, highs, language learners, and the little Einsteins can all benefit from the same single sheet of paper. True story.  But you have to have the right tools, strategies, and games to make it happen!
startegies However, before you can even teach these “Keys to Comprehension and Fluency”, you have to convince the kids that rereading is important.
Creating readers who are fluent and can comprehend is easy with these 10 easy stragies!
Are you ready? This is beautiful. I blogged about this a few years ago when I had about 3 readers. So I am going to chat about it again because it is the HEART behind Close Reading, comprehension, and fluency. Every time we read something, we get more from the text.  It might be better understanding, it might be more enjoyment, it might be more words per minute.  It is probably all of the above! Here is how the heart chart works. It’s a 5 minute lesson that will change the way your students view rereading.
Even though this is a 5 minute lesson you are going to illustrate a whole week’s worth of rereading using 5 different colored markers.
Fluency 101 Posters Games Strategies  Why do we re-read? An essential question! This blog post talks all about reading comprehension and fluency practice.  Why do we re-read? Perfect visual for kids! Why do we re-read. This is a perfect visual for kids!
Once we have the kids totally hooked on rereading, we need to make it fun!!!
Fun reading games!
Using voices (the pink sticks) is wildly fun and quite amusing! If you are reading the whole passage or just pulling a sentence, why not read it like an old lady/man? Why not read it in a grumpy voice? The interactive nature of the sticks can keep rereading going for longer than you think. 
Punctuation Poppers and Voice Sticks. What a fun way to build fluency!
Reading with voices is only the beginning though! I teach my class Punctuation Poppers. These are the green circles up there. In this case the kids read in their own voice, but when they come across punctuation in their passage, they make a noise.  They might BUZZZZ if the bee stick is chosen or VROOM for car stick. They TWEET if the birdie stick is pulled. My favorite though is the surfer stick. The kids say DUDE in their best surfer voice when they come to a punctuation mark.  This strategy literally helps the kids read the punctuation. Sometimes we laugh so hard when rereading that I am nervous a kid will wet their pants.  I am nervous because it has happened. True story. “What happened buddy?”, I say to the wet child.  “I was having fun and forgot I had to pee.”, he said. 
Comprehension and Fluency games! So fun and will help my students!
OK, speaking of fun.  These reading games are OUTRAGEOUS! Crazy Professor comes to us via the Whole Brain movement and I love it with my whole heart! Kids act out text.  They are not putting on a play, they are simply moving their hands to match the words.  In the picture bottom left, the little girl in green is reading the word White House and making her hands into a roof!
Crazy Professor reading game! So fun and build deep comprehension.
The kids go INSANE for this game.  It can be played in pairs, table groups, or whole class. When we do it whole class, I read the passage and they act it out. We call this a Professor Party.  In first grade we make up the motions together until the last trimester. Then they are ready to make up their own motions.  Coincidentally, the motions tend to go with key vocabulary words and words that need vocal emphasis. So this game is great for vocabulary acquisition and teaching vocal expression. 
Reader’s Challenge is a blast too. It’s a verbal game where the teacher reads a familiar passage and pauses on a word. The first child to shout it out wins.  Here are the details to play the game. Divide the class in half and line them up on either side of your room.  101-3One competitor from each team comes up. You read from the familiar passage and pause. First to shout the correct answer wins the round.
Reader's Challenge! Best reading game EVER!!!!!!!
Winner rejoins their line. The other child sits at their desk.  The process of elimination continues until only 1 child remains. If there is ever a tie in the process, just keep reading and pausing until the tie can be broken.  Last man standing wins the game for their team. I play this game on Fridays because by then we have worked with the passage all week.  Since the kids are not doing any of the reading, your low kids and your language learners we really SHINE.
Teacher to the Core Art, Comprehension, and Fluency Units! I use art to motivate my little readers.  I do art at least once a week and I do it Tuesday morning.  Art is not for “Fridays only” in my room. Click on any picture to view more.
Slide5   Slide7  Slide8    Slide9 
You might be wondering how I have time to do art once a week. Easy. As we are doing the art, I pull a sentence from the passage, write it on the board and then we pull that sentence apart. While we are cutting out George Washington’s hair, we talk about the sentence and ways to phrase it. Then as we are gluing on the hat, we read the sentence with voices.  And so it continues. We keep making the art and pulling apart the sentence. 
Don't waste time during art. Pull a sentence and watch you kids enjoy art and practice their skills.
While I am pulling a sentence with the kids, it’s a perfect time to hit a couple of the “Keys to Comprehension and Fluency” Posters.
The Keys to Comprehension and Fluency- Cool posters!
By the time we are done with the 20 minute art project, I have reviewed several “Keys” and taken a few minutes to discuss the sentence from a phrasing and grammar point of view.
Step by Step to getting reading buddies going in your classroom
A huge help in building readers who are fluent and can comprehend, is having daily 7 minute reading buddies.  I go into this concept in GREAT detail in the unit, but I have to say that it is one of the main elements to a successful reading program.
 Why I don't love Dibels- but love Informational Text for fluencyDibels is a free resource, but I encourage you to think about maximizing your school day. I don’t love Dibels because it’s a lot of narrative text.  Do your students really need to spend the WHOLE week reading about a rainy day picnic??? I would rather have them read a social studies or science text. And the truth is, the kids would rather read about the real world too.  It is enriching, engaging material. It sparks their creativity, curiosity, and it fills their brain/schema with information to write about! PLUS, if you can get a social studies or science grade out of it, that is a major bonus! Please remember it is essential to choose the right material since they are going to be reading it all week. 
The other HUGE component to a rocking reading program is graphing. THIS is where the kids blossom! Unless you make reading growth visual, with a graph, they cannot sense their own growth.
 Why do we re-read? Such a GREAT visual. Kids hear us say, “You’ll be a better reader if you practice.” But they must ask themselves, “When?” If you stop to think about it, the language arts story gets harder every week. So their struggle continues week to week. Graphing is how kids can see that they are indeed becoming better readers! Also graphing their daily words per minute with their big buddy is a HUGE confidence builder.  My students are addicted to the successful feeling that graphing gives them. I provided 4 different graphs for you to choose from. You know who else LOVES the graph? Parents.  Most parents live and die seeing their child grow to be successful.  Graphing gives the parents a tremendous amount of joy and increases the drive to help their children with their reading.
Great letter to get parents involved with fluency
Are you ready to have the time of your life teaching reading comprehension and fluency? Please join me! It is so fun and gets you results and data your admin is demanding. Your students will be engaged, happy, and strong readers using the strategies I talked about and tons I did not cover from this unit.
 Amazing Comprehension and Fluency Post and Unit! Wow!

I also want to get you a free fluency unit! Here is my How Tweet it is unit. I hope you enjoy the fluency, quiz, art, nouns practice, and writing! You can click the picture to see every page.

How Tweet It Is a stand alone freebie, and also comes in the Comprehension and Fluency 101 download.  Spring into Fluency is everything you need to teach fluency for April - June. I blogged all about it {here} and you can see every page in the unit so far.
Spring Into Fluency

Happy Reading, dear friends! Happy reading! If you want to read more about fluency, Lisa is hosting a linky party on her blog. You don’t want to miss the great ideas being shared.


  1. Katie- WOW! Such an amazing post. I can't wait to share this with my colleagues.

  2. All I can say is AMAZING! This is an incredible resource! It makes me want to start the year all over again and start right away with all these great strategies.

  3. I loved this post Katie! I have desperately trying to figure out how to really run a fluency program in my class and you have answered so many of my questions. Thank you! Will you be putting together a unit of passages that can be used? You referenced your American Heros unit and I would absolutely love to buy it BUT I am Canadian:( Any other suggestions? I do own several of your other units. I will check back in a bit before I buy this unit to see if you've had a chance to reply. Again thank you so much for your help!

    PS - I'm Melonheadz Addict #3!

    Bye for now,
    Natalies Nook

    1. Natalie, here are some & more coming

  4. So much info in one post! Have to pin this and refer to it…OFTEN! Whew..I'm exhausted from reading; can't imagine how you felt compiling & typing all this:) Thanks so much!

  5. Great resource and explanation of how to teach fluency effectively for all students! I would also love to know if you have a bundle of just the passages you use each week. I have been looking for a great set of passages to use with my first graders, who are high readers (between 100 - 150 wpm), and your passages look great! Informational and cute. :) Love the overview!

    1. I am going to be sending out passages right away. Coming up are ladybugs, bees, Earth Day, and I am proud of Myself. All of them have the most adorable smart art and great passages being written as we speak! Follow my store so you don't miss any of them.


    3. Katie,
      I just stumbled upon your blog while looking for ideas about teaching fluency. I am a 3rd grade teacher. Do you have any resources or passages for that grade level? I completely agree with your statement that students should be in texts that are meaningful, and love to find good resources that allow me to cover a broad range of subjects while working on reading.


  6. Wow! What amazing ideas you have!!! This just looks incredible. Thank you for taking the time to share all your ideas with us!!
    Keep Calm and Love First Grade

  7. I'm with Brittany...I want a 'start over' to the year! Cannot wait to implement some of your great ideas! I think my students would love the graphing much more effective!

  8. I have never quite understood a programme that only has the kiddo's reading a book once - maybe twice if someone at home reads with them and then we go - okay you have got that - and we move on!!!! I love your ideas and pack it just looks fab - your reading ideas for punctuation are so funny (I can just picture the kiddo's having fun with that). It just makes me want my forever classroom to be in the lower grades so I can just to this pack with them!!! It is on my wish list for my next shopping trip - thank you for sharing your knowledge and talent :)

  9. Oh.My.Word! You just blew my mind! This is unbelievable!! :)

  10. First~ what a crack up with the Hey Girl meme! Second~ LOVE the ideas in here! I've used some of these ideas and they are brilliant! Third~love that the graph is horizontal... we seem to always need more practice with that!
    Thanks for a good read!

  11. Wow! What a fabulous post! You have such amazing ideas on how to teach comprehension and fluency! My colleagues are going to love when I share this! Thanks so much!
    Tricks of the Trade in First Grade

  12. okay I had to come back and share this with you as a student made my heart sing today. I have a sub class for a week that I can teach what I want in - I am doing fluency with them. I brought your pack and read from cover to cover but had not yet printed. So I introduced the why as you recommend (but with out the graph) and they really got it - to the point several of them wanted to draw their own later in the day. Today a kiddo brought in his tablet to show me and the game Candy Crush. He said he's not that good at it. I said but if you keep practicing you will get better. He turned round and said "just like that picture from yesterday, I'll get more and more knowledge the more I do it"!!!!!!!!! It worked it really really worked and made an impact - thank you so much for the idea. Several of the kiddo's have referred back to it today when we did our maths as well - it has inspired 6 year olds.... You have impacted 6 years in New Zealand with your talent. Thank you once again for sharing.


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