Do you have readers in your classroom who are still working on becoming proficient?
Chances are- the answer to that simple question is-YES.
I want you to close your eyes and imagine one of those readers. He or she is sitting right in front of you at your Guided Reading table with their book open. What do you see? What do you hear?
When I place myself next to a one of those readers, one of the first things to stand out is their fluency. The student lacks automaticity and needs our support in speeding up the reading process so that they can maintain meaning.
We define fluency as the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. A big piece of the fluency puzzle is learning to move your eyes from left to right as your brain picks up each word. And in fact, eyes eventually need to move ahead of the words being read.
Our youngest readers need practice pointing one-to-one in order to build their fluency strength. Our upper elementary students who lack fluency must be explicitly taught how to train their eyes to move from left to right and at a faster speed!
Did you know there is a fluency activity that students can practice in order to build this one-on-one eye-brain connection?
Fluency Sticker Stories!
Fluency sticker stories can be used for readers who need support and practice pointing one-to-one or moving their eyes from left to right quickly. It’s simple, really, but often times overlooked in the classroom.
Below are the directions to make and use them.
-paper or sentence strips
-stickers or clip art
Place the stickers on the paper or sentence strips in any order. For example, cat, cat, dog, cat, dog.
With your marker, draw a dot underneath each sticker for students who need support with pointing one-to-one.
You will teach the student to read the stickers aloud (cat, cat, dog, cat, dog) while he or she points to the dot underneath in order to build fluency!
After you’ve taught a student how to use this tool, you can send it with them in their book bag as a warm up before reading or place it in a literacy station for extra practice.
If you have older students who need fluency support, you can use this same activity- only don’t add the dot underneath because you don’t want them reading word-for-word.
I always teach this lesson before allowing students to do this activity independently:
“Yesterday while I was reading a really tricky book, I noticed that I started to sound really boring and I had no clue what the story was about. I stopped reading and realized that my eyes weren’t doing what good reader’s eyes do! My eyes got stuck on one word and forgot to look at the next word.
Today I want to teach you that good readers move their eyes to the next group of words while their brain or mouth says a word. Let me show you what I mean (here i demonstrate reading a part of a book fluently. My pointer finger represents where my eyes are looking as I read. I model and talk aloud how my eyes are moving to the next word while I am reading a word.)
I have some silly sentences we will practice together and then I want you to practice using this strategy on your own with your book. (Here I will guide the student to use the fluency stickers.) Now I want you to read from your book bag. As you read, remember to move your eyes across the page faster than your brain is reading the words.”
Fluency work is such an important piece of being a successful reader. Fluent reading allows readers to maintain meaning for themselves and others.
Why not take ten minutes out of your summer to create this foundational fluency activity for your readers? They will thank you with their improved fluency!