A fluent reader pauses at commas, and stops only at periods, not at the end of a line of text. A fluent reader reads with great expression and intonation. If students can read fluently, they are able to think more about the content of what they are reading, rather than trying to figure out what the words are. They can focus on their comprehension and making connections.
We practice fluency many times throughout the course of our day. We read poems from our poetry folders. We chorally read directions, paragraphs, and sentences to help us be fluent readers. Reading books at the right level is a huge help in being a more fluent reader.
Even with all these opportunities and practice, there are still some students who struggle. Some students just need a little push. I have been spending some extra time with a handful of students who need that extra boost, and I am so impressed with their progress. One student read only 46 words for her first reading (cold reading) on Monday, but after practicing at home and at school, she made it to 161 words by Friday. It is exciting to see their graphs go up and up and up, but it was even better to see their smiles!