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Phrased-Text Lesson #5
9-12 Fluency for Secondary Students


What is fluency?
Fluency is the ability to read text effortlessly with accuracy, speed, and expression. It is also described as the rate of reading in a particular time frame. Fluent readers have developed the ability to chunk words into phrases and to skillfully use these chunks to read materials quickly.

Why is reading fluency important for secondary struggling readers?

  • Reading fluency is an important ability for secondary (middle and high school) students because of the large quantities of text they must read for class assignments.
  • The reading demands of adolescents are high; causing students with poor reading fluency to fall behind in text reading.
  • When students do not recognize words with automaticity, they spend time on struggling through materials that could be devoted to comprehending text.
  • Students with poor reading fluency read less in a given amount of time, reducing the amount of material read overall, which has a negative impact on both developing vocabulary and learning the content.

What is the goal of reading fluency instruction for secondary struggling readers?

The goal of reading fluency instruction for secondary students is to help them become fluent readers so more emphasis can be placed on comprehending content.

What are some instructional guidelines for building reading fluency?

  • Students should read text that is at their instructional/independent reading level.
  • Materials that are age-appropriate and written at a student’s independent level are recommended.
  • Students should possess the following prerequisite skills:
    • Sound/symbol correspondence,
    • recognition of phonetically regular consonant-vowel-consonant words,
    • recognition of some sight or high frequency words.

(adapted from Council For Learning Disabilities Infosheet: Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities in Reading: Developing Reading Fluency)

Fluency Instruction

Essential Element:  Fluency

Framework  Reading
                     Standard 11:  Students shall acquire and apply skills in vocabulary      
                     development and word analysis to be able to read fluently.

 One of the most important tools in building fluency is the read-aloud, yet as students get older, they are less likely to be read to.  In fact, many would say that reading aloud to a high school student is a waste of time.  However, the read-aloud concept offers several benefits even to the older student.  In his book The Fluent Reader, Rasinski cites studies to underscore two of these benefits:  expanded vocabulary and improved comprehension.  He adds that the read-aloud also improves fluency as students come to understand that meaning is not only words but the interpretation of words.  Perhaps most importantly, the read-aloud fosters a motivation to read.  Another study which Rasinski cites says that “a well-planned read-aloud program, even for older students, can stimulate interest in books and introduce students to quality literature in various genres, well beyond their reading level.”


  • Engaging authentic literature in a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama.  These pieces may be chosen for whole-class instruction in the elements of literature, or they may be chosen to stimulate interest in reading.  Entire pieces or memorable passages will be excerpted for reading aloud.
  • Read-aloud activities designed to be used with the whole class or with small groups of less fluent readers.  These activities are designed as mini-lessons requiring five to ten minutes; however, student performance of polished pieces may require additional time.  All of the following are taken from or adapted from The Fluent Reader by Timothy V. Rasinski; his book provides many examples of fluency-building activities that can easily be adapted for older students.

Direct Instruction

The teacher will explain why it is important to read fluently.  He/she will emphasize that good reading is more than reading fast and calling words correctly.  Fluent reading helps to convey meaning through appropriate expression, phrasing, and pace.  The teacher will demonstrate by reading a passage disfluently—no intonation, word-by-word—and then by reading a passage fluently.


All of the read-aloud activities that follow call for the teacher to model fluent reading of pre-selected passages.  The teacher demonstrates, perhaps several times, how to read the passage with expression and appropriate phrasing.  Often, s/he will use the read-aloud as an opportunity to think aloud about how a good reader constructs meaning.

Guided Practice

All of the read-aloud activities that follow allow students to practice what they have heard the teacher model.  In many cases, students will move beyond pieces which the teacher has modeled and will apply what they have learned about fluent reading to passages which they have selected.  Most of these activities can be done collaboratively or independently; all require teacher and/or peer feedback.  These guided practices afford the teacher the opportunity to assess fluency progress either formally or informally.


Most of the read-aloud activities that follow allow the students the option to perform pieces on which they have worked to achieve fluency.  Performances may be for the teacher and a small group, the whole class, or larger audiences.  Performances also afford the teacher another opportunity to assess fluency progress.

Phrased-Text Lesson #5

The Phrased-Text lesson is designed to be mini-lessons taught to individual students or small groups.

Copy of a phrased-cued text. (See the example at the end of this lesson.)

Guided Practice

  1. Explain the purpose of phrase markings on the text and emphasize the importance of reading phrases rather than word by word.
  2. Read the text to the students several times, emphasizing the phrases.
  3. Read the text with students two or three times in a choral fashion, emphasizing phrasing and expression.
  4. Allow the students to read the text orally with a partner two or three times each.
  5. Repeat the procedure during the next class meeting, using the same text but without the phrase markings.

Allow students to perform their text for the class and listen for fluency

Tier II Additions

  • Give student familiar text previously read in class.
  • Pair student with strong student peer reader.

Tier III Accommodations/Modifications

  • Pair student with strong student peer reader, teacher, or paraprofessional.
  • Allow student the opportunity to practice the teacher-selected text many times outside of class.
  • Give student highlighted text to read from.

Tier IV Modifications

  • Allow student to practice short teacher-selected text many times inside and outside of class.

Tier V Modifications

  • Have student peer, teacher, or paraprofessional read teacher-selected text to student.
  • Offer Braille or large print selections to student with visual impairment


Today, / there is a park / in Hiroshima / where the bomb dropped. // Near the park / is a museum. // It opened in 1955 / and houses / some 6000 items / left after the explosion. //

Each year / 1,200,000 people / visit the museum. // They look / at the photos and exhibits. // And / they examine / the twisted roof tiles / and melted bottles. // They are / strange, disturbing relics / of that terrible moment. //

Japan has built / a new wing / to the museum. // The new exhibit / includes Japan’s role in World War II / and shows / how the city of Hiroshima / participated in the military effort. // For the first time, / the bombing is placed / in a historical context. //

Copyright © 2006 Arkansas Department of Education.  All rights reserved.  School districts may reproduce these materials for in-school student use only.  No resale.  Materials may not be reproduced, distributed or sold for commercial use or profit.  ADE employees are not authorized to waive these restrictions.

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