Choosing texts for fluency instruction and intervention

The selection of texts for fluency instruction and intervention is important. The texts should be suitable for reading aloud and appropriate for the age and reading ability of the student.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a text for fluency teaching activities:

  • Vocabulary  Too many long and unfamiliar words make fluent oral reading difficult.
  • Complexity of grammar and sentence structure  Texts with lots of clauses, sub clauses and parentheses are complicated and unenjoyable to read aloud.
  • Dialogue  Text with lots of dialogue, or written from a first-person perspective, provide more opportunities for expressive reading.
  • Length  Repeated Reading requires the same text to be read multiple times in a session, so the chosen passage should be short enough to read three or four times in a 15 minute session.
  • Variety  Poems and plays are a good option for fluency instruction as they provide variety and playfulness with language and form.

Text complexity

For beginning readers who are still learning to read words accurately (typically Foundation and Year 1 students), decodable text is the best choice. The text should correspond with their progress on their phonics scope and sequence. Texts for fluency instruction and intervention should have familiar letter-sound correspondences and high frequency sight words so students can focus on fluency rather than decoding.

For students who have good decoding ability and are reading connected text with some proficiency (typically Year 2 and above), fluency instruction can be conducted using any passage, poem or play that meets the criteria above.

Texts chosen for fluency instruction should be at a level that students can read with few errors. As with beginning readers, the focus of fluency instruction for older readers is on rate and prosody rather than effortful decoding.

* Please note that this advice on text difficulty is specific to fluency instruction. For independent or guided reading, there are benefits to students attempting more challenging texts with some support.*

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