We've created a fun community for teachers to gather and collaborate on Facebook. We'd love to have you join us. We have some fun things planned including special daily deals for the month of June! Click here to join the Facebook group.
We've created a fun community for teachers to gather and collaborate on Facebook. We'd love to have you join us. We have some fun things planned including special daily deals for the month of June! Click here to join the Facebook group.
There's something just so fun about leap day. I think it must be the novelty of a day that only happens every 4 years and the feeling that you get a bonus day! My half birthday falls on leap day so I always feel a little extra special that day.
We wanted to create a day of exciting leap day activities that were still meaningful. We chose to focus our activities on outerspace, particularly the first moon walk and Neil Armstrong's famous "one giant leap." Even if you don't use our set, there are lots of ideas here for a fun space themed day!
Note: We created this for leap day but that doesn't mean these activities are only usable once every four years. These ideas and resources would complement any space unit, would work wonderfully for easy sub plans, or make a great themed review day at the end of the year. Really, you can celebrate space and learning any day of the year!
Take a look at what we have planned for our One Giant Leap (Day) Celebration!
Books and Mini Biography
We love any excuse to buy new books so we had a blast collecting space-themed books for this celebration. Some are non-fiction and some are just for fun! Here are some of books to read and let the students read on your space day:
After reading some non-fiction books about Neil Armstrong, let the students make a little mini-biography about him and his legacy!
We think coming up with displays for the hall outside your classroom is sometimes the most annoying task in the world so we try to build meaningful activities like this into our celebrations that will result in something easy to stick up in the hall! Part of Neil Armstrong's legacy is that he showed us that working hard can help make even seemingly impossible dreams come true. After discussion and a pre-writing activity, students write their response and put it together with a chalk footprint on construction paper. We included a few pages you can put up in the hall to explain the significance of the activity.
Note: For a quote we all recognize, there's a surprising amount of controversy about what Neil Armstrong actually said when he stepped on the moon. Neil Armstrong insists that he said an "a" before the word man making it "one small step for a man..." As he pointed out, the line wouldn't make sense without that word. In the audio, it's hard to discern. Some linguists say that in Ohio, where Neil is from, it's common to swallow vowels and, though it may be hard to hear, the "a" is definitely there. Other linguists disagree. Since there is no consensus, we've decided to give the benefit of the doubt to the one man who was actually there when it was said -- Neil Armstong -- and go with what he says is the true statement.
What celebration is complete without an awesome photo opp? We made fill-in-the-blank versions (dated and undated) to answer how students will make their mark on the world as well as print-and-go versions that say "I made a giant leap in learning!" If you're doing a time capsule, these photos would be perfect to slip in those envelopes.
Don't you just love a time capsule? Leap day is the perfect day to do one because there's a built in timer and reminder to open it on the next leap day. We wanted to keep this as simple as possible so there aren't a ton of pages to fill out or supplies to gather. You need an envelope (these foil ones look extra-spacey and cool - you might be able to find them cheaper in an office supply store) of any size, some string to measure height, paper for hand and foot prints, letter to future self, a lift-the-flap questionnaire, and a photo. I used my Instax camera for an instant photo option but you could take the photos with your phone or camera then print them and slip into the envelopes the next day. (If you do that, just remember to leave them unsealed until the photos are added!)
See isn't this foil envelope spacey fun?!
Students can decorate their envelopes with different labels and pictures. We've included leap year labels up to 2028, so that should give you plenty to work with! You can print them on white and have students color them or print them on Astrobrights paper.
Every day, even a fun one like this, can always use some brain breaks. We came up with 12 different leap-day themed brain breaks you can use to refocus, recharge, and refresh your students. There are colored background versions (that need their borders trimmed) as well as black & white ones that you can print on colored paper and quickly cut. They look so awesome on the Astrobrights paper!
Reading Comprehension Passage
Teach your students a little bit about the origin of leap day with a reading comprehension passage. The passages are differentiated for 3 levels of difficulty and include comprehension questions.
Differentiated Work Pages
You would think that this would be the least-favorite activity of the day, but you would be wrong! Our students always LOVE a fun themed packet like this. And while we had a blast with the space theme, we still made sure that all of the activities were purposeful. We made 3 levels of each activity so you can differentiate for your students if needed. The 3 levels also make these pages applicable for several grade levels. There are 4 ELA pages and 4 math pages for each level. The cover for the packet is a guided poetry activity. And there are several fun leap-day pages you can include as well.
Tip: to save paper we like to print 2 activities on a page and double side it so you can get 4 pages worth of printing on only 1 page.
Language arts topics include: alphabetical order, syllables, proper nouns, and letter sounds.
For math, there are pages on: addition and multiplication with a missing part, place value, fractions, and number sense (expanded notation and rounding).
Since the pages are differentiated, you can have everyone practicing these important concepts at their own level!
We hope you have lots of fun leaping in learning on leap day. If you want to snag all the resources in this post, check out our One Giant Leap set in our shop! Make the most of your extra day!
CLASS PARTY. The words sometimes strike fear in the heart of a teacher, right? As if we don't already have enough to do, we have to plan a class party too? Oh the chaos! But it turns out it's possible to put together a simple party, devoid of chaos, that's still tons of fun! Whether you're the teacher or the room parent planning the party, we hope this post gives you some great ideas!
ONE MAGIC KEY TO A STRESS FREE CLASS PARTY: STATIONS!
Yes, it's that simple. Here are the details for how we always do it, no matter the reason for the party. I've even used this method for my daughter's birthday parties and they always go off without a hitch!
Organization and Management
Basic Station Ideas
Tips for Managing Parent Volunteers
If you're lucky enough to have parents to help with your parties, communicate your expectations to the parents ahead of time. Many parents are excited to be involved in the classroom party, but don't have the experience you do with managing huge groups of kids. You understand that the Christmas relay race is really fun, but only for the 3 kids participating. Your 28 other students are standing in lines, growing bored and causing problems. You can tell that the cute craft from Pinterest isn't feasible for 7-year-olds. I would sit down with (or email) my room mom a few weeks before the party and (nicely!) outline what I wanted. I tried to leave some room for the parents to be creative, but not enough room that the party would descend into chaos. For my class of 25, I might want 6 stations. One of those is always books, so I'll ask the room mom to help plan out the activities. I would ask her to organize helpers for two crafts (I might suggest crafts if I have something I've picked up from Oriental Trading or Michaels), a parent to run bingo, a parent to plan a treat that the children can make (decorating cookies, etc.), and a parent to plan some sort of game. With a small group of 3 or 4, even if the parent plans a game where only 1 or 2 children can participate at a time, there won't be too much standing around. I always plan a fast finisher (packet at the students' desks) because that's something most parents aren't familiar with.
This format works amazingly well if you have parent helpers, but guess what? It works even better WITHOUT parent helpers!
Most years, I didn't have parents who were able to help with class parties (particularly by Valentines day. It was like they were already burned out with helping by then!). So I had to figure out how to make this work with just myself. If this is the case for you, just make sure to choose crafts or activities that your children can handle independently, i.e. nothing with a hot glue gun! I'd set up the stations around the room. Reading holiday books, decorating a bookmark, playing a themed time-telling game, playing Candyland, playing tic-tac-toe, building forts with red plastic cups, anything that was out of the routine made it feel like a party! If there was one trickier station, such as one involving food, I'd stay there and manage that activity during the party. Otherwise, I was free to roam from group to group making sure the kids were engaged and on-task.
One Valentine's day a few years ago, I was alone for the class party. I had my little groups of 3 rotating around the room every 7 minutes. It was going great! The kids were having a great time, but it was totally under control. I found I needed some extra glue bottles, though, so I popped into the room next door. It was utter chaos! A few room parents were trying to get the kids to finish a craft that was too complicated. Some of the kids were really trying--the others had already given up and were throwing things around the room. Most of the kids at the game were bored and weren't paying attention to anything that was going on. They were having fun, but it was utter craziness! I gave the teacher a little pep talk (she was brand new!) and hurried back to my room. After that I was completely sold on using small-group stations for class parties!
If you have parent helpers in the classroom, this may not be the time to catch-up on your grading. They're watching you as much as they're watching their kid. They want to see the interactions you have with the children. It's not fair, but they are judging your regular class management by how you handle the party. Assign yourself one of the stations to manage or make sure you're mingling with the kids. Show the parents that you enjoy your job! If you decide to use the parent-run party to get some of your real work done, consider staying in the room. Even if the parents are in charge of the party, you're still responsible for what happens. You don't want to get in trouble because the parents didn't supervise the piñata well enough and Susie got walloped on the head.
Valentine's Day Party Tips
Valentine's Day Party Ideas
Halloween Party Tips
Halloween Party Ideas
We hope that these ideas and tips have helped you plan out the best, stress-free class party of all time! If you have a class party idea or tip, leave it in the comments!
My favorite part about the new year is that it feels like a second chance at a fresh start with your class! Here are some ideas and tips to inspire you to take this opportunity to revitalize your classroom!
1. Sharpen your procedures!
Doesn't it sometimes feel like you come back from winter break and your kids have forgotten every procedure you worked so hard on at the beginning of the year? January is the perfect time to reteach all those important procedures. Taking a bit of time to do it now will benefit you and save time during the rest of the school year. If you used our Guided Discovery set at the beginning of the school year, now would be the perfect time to brush up on what you covered earlier in the year. The last pages of the teacher's guide has ideas for mid-year reminders. Do you feel like you didn't cover the procedures well enough at the beginning of the year? Take the time to stop and do it now. You still have many months of school left, so make the most of them by tightening up those procedures.
Quick tip: if refreshing all your procedures seems too overwhelming, choose the most important procedure that you feel needs work and focus on that only. Chances are that effort will pay off big time in your day to day classroom management.
2. Tweak seating arrangement
How is your current seating arrangement working? Chances are your class could do with a switch up. If the desk arrangement is working well enough, you could just move the students to freshen things up. But if you think it's time for a major change, try a completely new arrangement of your desks!
Quick tip: we highly recommend turning your students' desks around so that they don't store anything inside them! You will save so much time by not having to clean out desks or deal with lost items and distractions hidden in desks. We stored our students' workbooks, notebooks, etc. in stacking plastic drawers. This one small change will make a big difference!
Check out our Classroom Setup Pinterest board we have to help you find some new seating arrangement ideas.
3. Plan ahead for test prep
You've still got a few months, but the end of the year is creeping closer! Take a good look at the core and think about where your kids need to be before those big, hairy tests. What can you do now to make sure they're ready in a few months? Focus on persuasive writing? Really push those math facts? We have a fun set of around-the-room review games. Consider setting it up for your students in the next few weeks so you can pin-point those holes in understanding. Our morning work and homework pages spiral review the most important areas of content. If you aren't using these yet, try using these pages at some point during your day or as homework. We think you'll be surprised how much students can learn from just a little bit of practice and review each day.
Quick tip: Work on building on-task stamina with your students and keep track of their progress on a class graph. This skill will help them to focus during testing time.
4. Mid-year assessments
Deciding how to structure the rest of your year will be easier when you have a good idea of how your students are progressing. So, do those mid-year assessments. If you do Words Their Way, you'll want to do another round of the Primary Spelling Inventory. Take a good look at your students' mid-year fluency. Are they meeting those benchmarks? We've got loads of ideas to help your kids keep progressing with fluency.
Quick tip: If you're doing an assessment like the WTW PSI that is given multiple times a year, try using a different colored pen for each quarter's assessment so that it's easy to see at each assessment's specific data at a glance.
If you live somewhere that receives cold winter weather, you'll definitely want to plan ahead for inside recess.
Some of our favorite activities to have on hand are:
And of course, Brain Breaks are perfect for inside recess. Check out our post for tons of ideas and resources for no prep/no technology Brain Breaks and also take a look at our Brain Breaks Pinterest board!
Quick tip: summer themed brain breaks would be tons of fun to use with your class during the winter, or vice versa!
6. Tackle the idea that seemed too daunting in September
Before school starts you have a million ideas for your classroom, right? And then you start getting ready and you realize that you can't possibly be ready to do all of them at the beginning of the year. When it comes to starting something new in your classroom, it can be especially overwhelming at the start of the year. But January is the perfect time to give those ideas a try.
Here are some ideas of things you could try tackling in the new year:
Quick tip: start with one idea and see what you have energy for!
7. Maximize Your Mornings
If you have a tight routine for your mornings, you'll be amazed at what you can get done in that time. Ideally, a good morning routine builds in time for you to do clerical tasks, time for students to wake up their brain with rigorous and meaningful morning work, and time to connect through morning meetings and morning messages. Take a look at our 2nd Grade Daily Schedule to get an idea of how we structure our mornings. If your mornings aren't what you want them to be, see where you can tighten up that routine!
Quick tip: if you use morning messages, do them in advance! If you are scrambling to come up with a message everyday, it's easy to fall out of the routine. That's why we planned out morning messages for the whole year in advance and reused them every year.
8. Set Goals
It's so important for students to have the opportunity to reflect on their skills and set goals for the future. It would be a great time to show them some work they completed at the beginning of the year and compare it with recent work and see how far they come. Then they can reflect on what they would like to improve on before the end of the year.
Quick tip: sign up for our newsletter and snag these free goal setting pages for grades K-6! The download includes a teacher's guide, specific pages for each grade, and also pages that leave the grade-level portion blank so you can pick and choose what you use and how you use it. You will receive a link to download the freebie in your signup confirmation email.
9. Clear Clutter
Completely overhauling your classroom organization can be daunting mid-year. Save the big declutter for the summer, but pick one thing right now to tidy up. Maybe clean out one cupboard or make a goal about emptying your box in the office every day. For me, the trouble space was always up by my whiteboard. Keeping that one little spot clutter free made a good resolution.
Quick tip: if you're holding on to odds and ends that you think you might maybe need someday (but you haven't yet found a use for) we give you permission to get rid of these things! Chances are you will never miss it and you will definitely appreciate the way a clutter-free environment will energize you and your classroom space!
10. Find Something You’re Excited About
This time of year can be tough as a teacher! One bit of advice I got was to have at least one thing you're excited to teach the next day. It makes such a difference in my attitude and the feeling in my classroom if I'm looking forward to at least one part of the day! Some days I was excited about a fun grammar lesson on contractions. Some days it was getting my class excited about counting coins. Some days it was feeling the kids' enthusiasm for our read aloud. It didn't matter what as long as I had something fun that made it worthwhile to crawl out of my warm bed!
Quick tip: Why not take a peek at your TPT wish list? Treat yourself to something that would make a dark, cold day a little brighter! Tell us in the comments what you bought for YOU!
Don't reinvent the wheel! We've done a lot of hard work on homework, morning work, vocabulary curriculum, fluency, and more so that YOU don't have to. Visit our TpT store and treat yourself! You deserve a break.
We have a fun new bundle of Halloween activities for your little spooks! It's important to us that when we make something seasonal that it's both fun AND meaningful and we've worked hard to achieve that with these activities. They're also differentiated so should be appropriate for grades 1-4!
The first activity in the bundle is a set of no-prep printable work pages. Last year, in a strange set of circumstances, I ended up helping in a friend's daughter's class party. While there, I noticed that the teacher had been having her students do themed worksheets for the holiday; however, they were not geared toward 1st grade. The students were working on pages that were not designed around 1st grade topics. I'm sure the teacher found something that looked good or just did what her team was doing, but it still made me a bit angry. Not at the teacher, but the situation. Why aren't there sets of pages that can meet the needs of a wide range of learners? That thinking lead to this packet. The pages are differentiated with three levels of difficulty for each topic!
One of my favorite holiday teacher-tricks is to make a packet of themed worksheets. I reduced each page to 1/2 sheet and fit four activities on each piece of paper! My 2nd graders had no trouble writing on the reduced lines, and they had plenty to do on a day that can be challenging for the teacher. The packet isn't all we did during the day, but it gave me a quiet and productive half-hour or so and then worked as a great fast-finisher for the rest of our activities. And my students LOVED their packets! When I announced we were doing a holiday packet, it would actually get cheers!
With these pages, you can choose your favorites and use them to fill time on Halloween or use them all month long! Topics include: ABC order, adjectives, opinion writing, plural nouns, sight words, vowel sounds, syllables, addition, multiplication, comparisons, rounding, skip counting, place value, and subtraction. Easier pages are marked with 1 star. Medium level difficulty have 2 stars. 3 stars are for the hardest pages. The stars correspond to level of difficulty and not grade-level. Depending on the age and abilities of your students, you may use only one level or you may find you need some from all three. There are also 4 "just for fun" pages: an I-spy hunt, maze, secret code, and word search. These are 4 not differentiated. There are 2 levels of a cover page that have students drawing and writing about their own Halloween costumes.
Let your students plan an epic (imaginary) Halloween party! This is a stand-alone activity, but it can be even more fun when paired with a book. Haunted Party, Click-Clack Boo! (in this month's Scholastic book order), Not Very Scary, and many other books all focus on a Halloween party. Try one (or all!) before introducing this activity. Then students get to make their own party scrapbook in a paper bag album. These are very easy to make--just take 2 paper lunch sacks, stack them, fold them in half, and staple. Voila!
What would it be like to have a pet ghost? Students can imagine and write about their ideas in 2 different writivities (I'm making that a word!). My First Ghost is in the Scholastic book order this month and makes a natural tie-in to these writing activities. This set also contains graphic organizers to help students chart their thoughts before writing.
Halloween is the perfect time to do a little poetry writing! This set of graphic organizers and brainstorm materials walks students step-by-step through writing their own Halloween color poems. There are 3 levels of difficulty with this task, so young learners can be successful and more advanced learners can spread their creative wings. Introducing your students to the idea of color poetry before writing can be helpful. Shivery Shades of Halloween is a wonderful color poetry book and you can find it in the Scholastic book orders this month. Use up those bonus points!
Do you know The First Six Weeks of School by Paula Denton and Roxann Kriete? I love this book! I got it early in my teaching career and it's one of the few books that I pulled out to reference EVERY YEAR!
The main philosophy of this book is that taking time to shape the learning environment at the beginning of the year pays off for the rest of the year. It has lots of ideas for activities, discussions, and procedures to help establish a warm and productive classroom. One of the most beneficial ideas for me was the idea of guided discovery.
Guided discovery is a focused, purposeful, yet playful technique teachers use to introduce materials, areas, or activities to students. A teacher might use a guided discovery to introduce a learning center, such as the library or computer area; a specific material, such as a box of crayons or compass; or a process, such as journal writing or quiet time.
A teacher may have any of the following objectives in mind when doing a guided discovery:
(From The First Six Weeks of School by Paula Denton and Roxann Kriete)
Sounds awesome, right?? I sure think it is--it totally changed the way I approach the beginning of the school year. I think teachers who've taught for a while do some version of this naturally when they're launching a new year, but having a systematic way of introducing materials or spaces in our room makes a difference in how efficiently our class operates all year long.
Here's an example of what I mean:
Before: One of the first-day-of-school activities usually involved coloring. I told students where their crayons are stored, gave directions to complete the page, and they got to work.
Now: I pull out a box of crayons and lead a discussion about appropriate use and expectations. I teach them what to do with a broken crayon, lost crayons, and crayon paper scraps. I let them use their crayons and then we reflect on how well they followed directions.
Don't think it makes a difference to introduce crayons?
Imagine it's October and the students are supposed to be coloring. Isaac finds a stray brown crayon on the floor. He comes to find you to ask what to do. Jessie is supposed to be coloring a pumpkin, but can't find an orange crayon. She spends time wandering before finding you to ask for help. At the end of the day, you find a pile of green wrapper shreds on the floor. You pick them up so the custodian doesn't give you grief and make a note to talk to Alex about what to do with crayon peelings.
You've now taught 3 students how to manage crayons. And as you address issues during the next few months, you will be given opportunities to teach the other 25 students.
This is not good use of your time! It is not good use of your students' time! Although it feels frustratingly slow when you're itching to get that first math unit underway, it actually saves time in the long run to introduce classroom materials formally. Teach it right from the beginning, or you'll be teaching it all year long!
When I'm launching students into an exploration of a material, I follow 6 steps. They aren't the official Guided Discovery Lesson steps, but they're the steps that best meet my goals for doing this activity. The steps are:
Below is an example of how these steps may look in action. The teacher is setting up guidelines for using scissors.
(This can be as simple or elaborate as you'd like. In this scenario, the teacher is using a more elaborate introduction.)
The teacher has a pair of dull tipped, closed scissors in an open top shoebox. I have something in this box that we will be using in our class. You can feel it, but don't guess what is. Instead, just tell one word that describes what you feel.
The teacher walks from student to student holding the box above the students' eye level so they can't see inside. She moves quickly so students don't lose focus. After everyone has felt it she reviews some of the words the students suggested: cold, metal, smooth, holey, etc. Have you figured out what's in the box, yet? On the count of three, everyone tell me what they think it is. Ready? 1,2,3...
The teacher gathers the students back at the rug. Raise your hand if you can tell me one way we use scissors? The students share their ideas. Because she wants to be able to refer back to this discussion at a later date, the teacher notes the students' contributions on a chart.
If a student suggests a use that's already on the chart, the teacher acknowledges the contribution. She points to the line where the suggestion and says: You're right. We can use scissors to cut out snowflakes.
How can we use the scissors responsibly? Again the teacher notes the students' suggestions on a chart. The students begin a round of, "We don't cut ____." (We don't cut hair, we don't cut books, we don't cut shoelaces...students will get very creative about this). Rather than listing 500 things not to cut, the teacher acknowledges the suggestion and redirects it. You're right, we don't cut erasers. What should we cut? Yes, we only cut paper. She adds only cut paper to the chart. When the next student suggests, "We don't cut shirts," she does the same thing. You're right, we don't cut shirts. What should we cut? Yes, we only cut paper. She points to the line on the chart where it's already written.
Phrasing rules in the positive keeps the focus on what students CAN do instead of punishing what they shouldn't. Also, a positively stated rule (only cut paper) covers more behaviors than 50 negative rules (don't cut___, don't cut___). If you had to list all the "do nots," you'd be there until January.
At this point, the teacher makes sure to include the steps to her specific classroom procedures. She models for students and has one or two students model for the class while she gives feedback. Then she adds to the chart, "Only get the scissors when the teacher says" and "Carry scissors with the tips down."
The teacher could open this time up for a general exploration of scissors. She could give them paper and let them cut all they want. In this case, she has a specific task in mind. She wants them to practice cutting different lines: zigzags, swirls, etc. She explains the task and sends a few students at a time to pick up scissors and take them back to their desks. She provides feedback as the students follow her directions. Did you see how Sasha walked right over to the scissor basked? Notice how Jamal is carrying his safely by carrying them pointing down. Older students may not appreciate this public praise for following directions. Instead, try having students rate their behavior. Give me a thumbs up if you walked with the blades pointing down.
Once everyone has scissors, she distributes the paper and lets the students start working. She wanders the room giving feedback. I can tell you're trying really had to stay on the line. She corrects any misuse now to prevent it becoming habit. Keep your thumb on top of the scissors.
Once everyone is finished, she has them return the scissors to the basket and bring their papers to the rug. She has them sit in a circle this time so they can see each other. Also, this means there's room for students to rest their papers on the floor rather than playing with them.
She lets students share their work with a partner and may choose 2 or 3 to share with the group. For young children (or small groups), it may be more beneficial to let everyone take a turn sharing what they did to use the scissors responsibly.
After they've shared, she asks What did you notice about using the scissors? She adds the students suggestions to her chart.
She'll save the chart her class has created so that a few months down the road, when someone misuses the scissors, she can pull out the chart and have the student refer to it.
If students haven't cleaned up yet, she would have them do it now, but the scissors are all back where they belong, so she goes on. She focuses her students' attention on their plans going forward. What will you do next time we get out the scissors?
Yes, it took some time to do this lesson. And it will take time to introduce the rest of your classroom tools: glue, markers, pencils,...! But now her students know her expectations. They have a clear understanding of how things run in their new classroom. They will rise to the occasion and there will be fewer behavior issues.
If you're reading this thinking This is great information, but where was it a month ago? We've been back in school 3 weeks! Don't worry--it's not too late! Pick the top 5 tools that your students use the most. Carve out 20 minutes a day for the next week. Introduce one a day and by the end of the week, your class will be operating at a whole new level! And don't forget that you can use this process any time during the year. If you come back from winter break and find your students are using their reading sticky notes for paper airplanes, use one of these lessons to refocus their behavior. Problem solved!
You don't need anything special to introduce your classroom tools using this guided discovery format. There were plenty of years when I made do with what was handy. I had a pirate themed classroom for awhile, so I found a random pirate coloring page to introduce crayons. Before that I used a shape coloring page for several years. But the more I've been thinking about this, the more I thought it would be nice to have a way for students to explore that supports the teaching of procedures.
That thinking lead me to create the School Tools Guided Discovery pack. It contains student pages to support the introduction of 20 common school tools and classroom areas. The top half of the page has room for students to record expectations and their plans for being responsible. The bottom half of the page is for the student exploration. There's also room for students to rate how well they followed directions from 1-5 stars.
This pack is bursting with resources. Besides the student pages there are:
If this set of materials would help get your school year off right, you can find the pack here.
For a long time, fluency was the forgotten component of reading instruction. I know it never came up in my college courses! But in the last 10 years or so, the view has shifted. Fluency has come to be recognized as a vital skill in developing proficient readers.
For the purposes of this post, when I talk (write? type?) about fluency, I mean oral reading fluency. We practice with reading aloud because we want students to read silently:
All of this is in the goal of developing deep comprehension. The easiest way for students to develop silent reading fluency is to strengthen their oral reading fluency, so that is the focus of this post.
Fluency refers to how well a student reads. We take that apart by looking at accuracy, phrasing, expression, and rate. Fluency is a complex skill and one that takes time to develop.
In order to read fluently, a reader has to be accurate. Because a fluent reader has internalized a large number of sight words, he or she has little difficulty decoding the text. The reader recognizes most words automatically and employs effective word-solving skills to read the rest. If the reader makes a mistake, he or she recognizes that the text doesn't make sense and has the skills to self-correct.
Fluent reading sounds smooth. A fluent reader's eyes are able to focus on multiple words at a time. This allows the reader to group words into phrases. This helps the brain make sense of the whole message instead of the meaning of individual words.
Fluent readers separate phrases with appropriate pauses. Facility with this skill requires an understanding of syntax and attention to punctuation. Readers must know how the different marks affect meaning.
Reading should sound like talking. Fluent readers emphasize certain words for effect. They change their tones depending on the genre and the type of sentence within the passage. A fluent reader adds color and meaning to the text by using his or her voice.
Fluent readers read at an appropriate rate. Their reading sounds much like talking. They don't rush through a passage or labor over each word. They adjust their rates according to the demands of the text.
You can understand why teachers largely ignored fluency for so many years. When students first enter school there's all the pressure to teach them letters and sounds. And then to connect those sounds words. They have to understand that words form sentences and sentences are ideas. It's a lot of work. Once students can decode, there's the push to help them comprehend. We teach strategies and skills. We use graphic organizers, sticky notes, highlighters...anything to get them to think while they're reading!!!
What we didn't realize is that fluency connects those two processes.
Comprehension depends on the connections readers make between the text and what they already know. Readers bring their background knowledge to the text and pair it with the words on the page. As they group the words in meaningful phrases, they're connecting thoughts. Fluent reading is the bridge between figuring out the words and using the words to assemble an idea.
There are myriad ways to assess fluency. Running records, student self-rating scales, timed readings, repeated readings, partnered practice, rubrics, DIBELS, checklists...You can even buy computerized goggles that track eye movements while children read!
But what's the best way to assess fluency?
The people at DIBELS have pushed very hard to make 1-minute timed readings the standard for fluency measures. And I think in some ways they're right. If you're looking for data to compare students to each other or to a standard, then you need a very standardized way to assess that. Counting words read per minute and then the number of words in a retelling give you that standard information. Where this is a problem for me is that it doesn't help me as a teacher.
If I have a 2nd grader reading 24 words per minute, I need to know where the problem is so I can fix it. Counting words per minute is not helpful in this case; I need to know the cause of the problem not just its effect. Was the text too hard? Does the student's struggle with syntax or phrasing? Are there holes in the student's understanding of phonics or word-solving strategies? You don't get this information from a number. That's why I stick with my running records. They're quick. They give me a lot of details without a lot of fuss.
Whichever method you choose, keep in mind that fluency doesn't develop with difficult texts. If students have to figure out many unknown words, they can't read fluently. Fluency should be practiced and assessed on independent reading levels.
Mandates require that students read a specified number of words per minute, but there's often no real support for teaching fluency. But that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless or that fluency lessons need to be laborious or complicated. A few basic practices can help all students improve their fluency.
Before coming to school, some students have never heard anyone read aloud. They don't understand that reading should sound like talking. When you read to students, you're providing the model for how fluent reading sounds. You read effortlessly. You give expression. You pause at the right places and don't race through the text. So keep reading to your kids and provide audio books if that fits the flow of your classroom.
Take advantage of teachable moments. If you're reading the text in your normal voice: "'Where did they go,' she whispered," pause for a moment. Then say, "Oh! The book said she whispered. I'm going to go back and read this in a whisper voice." You don't have to feel like you're putting on a show, but add expression and liveliness to your reading. If it's appropriate, use a particular voice for a character. Don't belabor it, but if the moment is right, point out what you're doing as a reader and why.
Students can’t be fluent with a text if they don’t know the words their reading. It’s important that readers have a large bank of sight words to draw from. Teach high-frequency words. Teach word-solving strategies (chunking, picture cues, rereading, etc.). Teach prefixes and suffixes.
Teach students to recognize fluent reading. Teach them to read the punctuation. Teach them how to read phrases.
Fluency instruction doesn't have to take long, but it should be frequent. It can be as quick as having students read 3 sentences. Write on the board, "I can go. I can go? I can go!" Have students practice reading each sentence with the appropriate expression. Pick one or two kids to model their expressions for the class. Remind the kids to look at punctuation while reading...And done for the day!
This is a great time sponge when you've got 5 minutes till the bell or the guest speaker is late. As students improve, lengthen the sentences or add students' names. "Chris slipped and fell. Chris slipped and fell? Chris slipped and fell!" Try having everyone put stress on the word slipped. Then switch and have them stress the word and. Talk about how it changes the meaning of the sentence...And done for another day!
There are lots of books with suggested fluency activities and loads of ideas on Pinterest. Fluency ideas are easy to find. But don't get overwhelmed. Tell yourself: simple works! You don't need a whole center or games or weekly readers' theater scripts. If you like those things, that's great, but you can effectively teach fluency without them.
Just talk to students about fluency. Help them understand why it's important and what it sounds like. Read jokes and poems. Commit to a 2-3 minute mini-lesson once a day. Frequent, brief lessons go a long way toward developing fluent readers. Students can’t hit an invisible target. Teaching them the components of fluency (besides rate) helps them develop all aspects of fluent reading.
Students should be reading multiple times a day.
A word of caution about partner reading: it is tempting to assign your highest reader to your lowest reader. This may benefit your low reader, but it will be incredibly frustrating for your high reader. It's better to partner your highest medium reader with your highest reader and your other medium readers to lower readers. This way they can support each other without either partner becoming frustrated or embarrassed.
Reading fluency develops over time as students have many successful interactions with texts. So it is vital that we as teachers ensure our students get those successful interactions. The determining factor of what makes an experience successful is whether or not it's aimed at the right level of difficulty.
When we talk levels of text difficulty, we're looking at three broad stages:
Frustration Level: this text is too hard for the reader to benefit from. At this level, they require too much support to be successful with the text. They accurately read fewer than 90% of the words and have weak comprehension.
Instructional Level: This is the teaching level. The reader can successfully decode 95%-90% of the words and has an adequate comprehension. They need support (from the teacher, parents, etc.) to be successful.
Independent Level: Texts at this level are easy for the reader. No teacher support is necessary. There are few mistakes or problems (at least 95% accuracy and strong comprehension).
Which level we choose for an activity will depend on our goals. If we're teaching guided reading, our goal is for students to develop the skills they need to become independent readers. Therefore, it's important to choose a text at an instructional level. Here students have to do a little work to make sense of the text, but aren't floundering. We can support them to take the next steps in their learning.
If our goal is reading fluency, it's important to choose texts at an independent level.
At an independent level, students already know the words, so they can focus their energy on connecting phrases. Their reading can sound fluent. We can't expect fluent reading on a challenging text. So if we want fluent readers, we have to give them the right kind of text.
In recent years, silent reading time has gotten a bit of (what I think is an unfounded) a bad rap. If students are expected to do 30 minutes of silent reading, providing the right text is important. There has to be an expectation that students will choose "just right" books. If students are spending 30 minutes with books at their frustration level, it's just a wasted half hour. If students are spending 30 minutes with books at their instructional and independent levels, that time becomes priceless. This is where they apply all those skills you've been working on in guided reading! This is where they develop the habits of fluent readers!
So expect your students to spend time reading, but also expect them to choose the right reading books. (You can facilitate this by leveling your books and assigning students certain shelves or tubs.)
The biggest pitfall is evaluating teachers based on students' oral reading fluency. It creates a culture where teachers--and students!--view fluency as the be-all and end-all of reading. Instead of teaching reading, teachers are drilling fluency. Students race through passages thinking that rate is the only important aspect of reading and don't pause long enough to breathe--let alone to think about the text they're speeding through.
Also, terrible round-robin reading (students take turns reading a sentence or paragraph to the class while everyone else follows along in their books) has resurfaced. Don't do that! While these practices might create faster readers, they don't create better ones.
Fluency is the result of effective instruction. Modeling fluent reading and teaching students word-solving skills, phonics, sight words, comprehension strategies, and how to self-monitor will naturally boost fluency and give students the tools they need to be life-long readers.
For our earliest readers who are still figuring out concepts of print and basic sight words, timed readings aren’t recommended. Once students have developed some reading skills and are working with longer texts (usually around the middle of first grade), using repeated readings is one of the best--and easiest ways--to boost fluency.
A multi-year study published in 2004 found that students had the greatest gains when they read to an adult, received corrective feedback, and then had opportunities to reread the text. (You can find a summary of the study here.)
The researchers concluded:
Repeated reading improves the reading fluency and comprehension of students with and without learning disabilities, not only on the passages with which students previously used the strategy, but also with new passages. Several instructional components are found to be essential to the success of repeated reading. First, adult-led repeated reading leads to significantly greater gains than do interventions led by peers. This finding indicates that adults, rather than peers, should implement repeated reading. Corrective feedback and opportunities for the student to reread the passage until a set criterion is reached also have a significant positive impact on students’ progress during repeated reading. When students are cued to focus on either speed or comprehension, before they begin reading, their rates in both areas increase. The greatest improvements are seen when students are cued to focus on comprehension alone or on both fluency and comprehension together.
(Therrien, W.J. Fluency and Comprehension Gains as a Result of Repeated Reading, 2004)
If you're progress monitoring for DIBLES (don't do it with an assessment) or you've just done a running record on students, take a few seconds and give them feedback about their fluency. Let them practice reading a few sentences or paragraphs. Remind them to apply that skill to their other reading and send them on their way.
You can also outsource this! If you need something for parent volunteers to do, give them some training in what fluent reading sounds like and let them listen to students and give feedback.
We know students come to us on a variety of levels and with a variety of needs. It can be tricky to know where to start. We have written some additional posts to break down the process of building fluent readers. Use the charts below to find where your readers need to practice. Then choose the post(s) that are most relevant to the needs of your students. We have resources available to help you with each of these levels, but we also share information and tips that are relevant whether or not you use our resources.
Timed, repeated readings with feedback are one of the best ways to improve students' reading fluency.
Repeated reading is just what it sounds like--the student is rereading the same passage multiple times. The number of times depends on the situation, but 3-4 times is a good average. The student is timed reading aloud for 1 minute. The teacher notes each mistake (it's helpful if the teacher has her own copy of the text for this reason) and counts the total words read in 1 minute. The errors are subtracted from that total leaving the score how many words correct per minute (WCPM).
So if Jenny read 83 words in a minute and made 6 mistakes, her total would be 77 WCPM. (83-6=77)
At this point, you can ask the reader to give a retelling or answer questions about the text.
Then the teacher gives the student specific feedback about his/her reading or comprehension. It might be a fluency skill (reading to the punctuation before pausing), it might be a rate skill (try and get 5 more words correct per minute), or it can be related to comprehension (find out why the character's feelings change). Feedback gives students a goal to work toward during subsequent readings, so the additional practice is purposeful and not mindless drill.
The student rereads the text. It could be right in that same moment or it could be a day or two later.
The rereading and rating/feedback process continues until the student has reached his/her goal (a specific level of accuracy, rate, understanding, etc.) or until the student has read the text 5 or 6 times. At that point, the student has gotten everything he/she can out of that text and it's more beneficial to move to a different passage.
Hot vs. Cold Reads
There's some debate about whether the student's first reading of the passage should be done silently without timing so that with the first timed reading they have some background understanding of the text (hot read) or whether you should hand them a paper and tell them to start (cold read).
For the purposes of assessment, a cold reading might be helpful. That way you get a clear idea of a student's real words-per-minute skills. For the purposes of practice, in my opinion, the first reading should be hot. If I'm going to track WCPM for multiple readings, I want the process to be similar on all the reads. For the second, third, and fourth readings, the student is already familiar with the text. To be able to compare all the scores, I want the first reading to have the same advantages.
(This post from Reading Rockets breaks down grade level rate goals.)
Reading fluency doesn't improve if students are practicing with difficult passages. Fluency passages must be on a student's independent level. Once you know students' levels, you can collect passages for them to work with. In this post, we outline the hallmarks of a quality reading passage.
What you do with the passages depends on what works best in your class. Some teachers assign partners and train them time each other and provide feedback (this is more successful with older students). Some teachers have parent helpers or aides work with the students. Some teachers do timed readings as part of individual reading conferences. Some teachers have students read along with audio recordings.
Find what works for you!
For my class, what worked best was assigning repeated readings as homework.
I send each student home with a passage on Monday. Most of my kids get the same passage, but I differentiate for my highest and lowest readers. (You can differentiate for each individual reader if you have the time/patience!) Students read the same text for 4 days. For the lower reading levels (A-D, kindergarten and part of 1st grade) students color a box after each complete reading. It's not appropriate to time them at this stage in their development. Starting on Level E, they're timed reading for 1 minute and parents find their WCPM.
The reading passage is on the front. The daily assignments are copied on the back. Because we want to connect fluency with greater comprehension, from levels E and up students have a specific comprehension focus each day (levels A-D focus on sight words). In a format that models close reading, the questions get progressively complex.
The key to making this assignment effective is to provide parent support. Parents need to know how to give feedback. Each week's assignment has tips for how parents can make the most of the homework. Some of it is general information on how to do the assignment or why reading fluency is important. Some of the tips are related to that week's particular story. For example, how to read dialogue or how to give a character a unique voice. Like the questions, the tips are related to the text.
Organization tip: make a stack of copies ahead of time for each level and store them in file folders. When it's time to send home practice, use a check list to quickly pull fluency pages from your files.
In the post about leveled passages (find it here), I wrote about how to find quality texts for reading. I set out 5 guidelines for recognizing quality:
These are the guidelines we used when creating our fluency passages.
What does Level A look like?
• designed to help develop concepts of print
• short, predictable sentences
• illustrations that support meaning
• simple narratives and familiar themes
What does Level B look like?
• short, predictable sentences
• repetitive stories with familiar themes
• illustrations that closely match print
• text in a large, plain font
What does Level C look like?
• predictable text with longer sentences, but still on a single line
• illustrations that match print, but offer less support
• greater range of high frequency words
What does Level D look like?
• increasing number of lines of text per page
• less repetition
• some words in bold for emphasis
• word-solving strategies may be required to understand meaning
• simple dialogue
What does Level E look like?
• more complex stories with subtler meanings
• sentences that carry over to multiple lines
• simple and split dialogue
• large number of high-frequency words
What does Level F look like?
• stories with greater development of plot and character
• non-fiction texts are focus on a single idea
• longer sentences
• illustrations that support text, but don't carry all the meaning
• greater range of vocabulary
What does Level G look like?
• more complex stories and ideas
• wider variety of settings, characters, and vocabulary
• includes plurals, possessives, and contractions
• longer dialogue
What does Level H look like?
• stories that run longer than 100 words
• humorous situations and a wider variety of themes
• dialogue that adds to the drama
• a variety of words used to assign dialogue to readers (explained, told, etc.)
• many words with inflectional endings
• complex illustrations and text features
What does Level I look like?
• several sentences longer than 10 words
• prepositional phrases, adjectives, and clauses
• abstract themes supported by the text and illustrations
• stories that require inference
Levels J+ are still under construction.
I worked hard to ensure that the passages were of a quality that make them worth rereading. Instead of writing "All About Polar Bears," I took an aspect of polar bears--where they live--and connected it to a larger idea: why they can't meet penguins. Instead of a passage about what ocean animals eat, I wrote about the relationship between giant blue whales and tiny krill and then asked students to connect that theme to the fable of The Lion and the Mouse.
Illustrating has pushed me to the edge of my meager drawing abilities. I have had to draw so many random things: a panda's jaw line, bread holes, a grasshopper egg pod, a salamander with a worm...But it was important to me that the stories have illustrations. We teach beginning readers to use picture cues, so there needed to be picture cues available. Illustrations support understanding. As readers advance, they learn how pictures can teach and clarify information. I worked really hard to make sure our illustrations did that. We include maps, diagrams, cutaways, captions, and labels. The passages grow increasingly complex so that as students advance, the pictures become less important to comprehending the passage and the text carries more of that weight.
Writing these fluency passages is one of the hardest things I've ever done!! And I still have half of 2nd and all of 3rd to go...
We have 36 weeks of kindergarten homework available. That includes: 8 weeks of Letter Name Fluency practice, 4 weeks of Letter Sound Fluency practice, 4 weeks of Segmenting & Blending practice (this is perfect for students working on Nonsense Word Fluency), and 16 weeks of Leveled Reading Passages (Level A-D). The A-D passages in Kindergarten are different than those in First. While there is some overlap of levels in each pack, all passages and practice pages are unique. Click here to download a sampler of Kindergarten Fluency Homework.
First Grade has another 36 weeks of practice: 4 weeks each of levels A-I. The A-D passages are different than those in Kindergarten. The E-I levels are different than those in Second. While there is some overlap of levels in each pack, all passages and practice pages are unique. Click here to download a sampler of First Grade Fluency Homework.
Second Grade (under construction, will be 36 weeks): 4 weeks each of levels E-I. I'm working hard to add additional levels quickly. The E-I levels in first are different than those in First. While there is some overlap of levels in each pack, all passages and practice pages are unique. Click here to download a sampler of Second Grade Fluency Homework.
Third Grade Fluency Homework coming soon!
Whether or not you use our fluency resources, we hope that this post has provided you with some insight on how repeated readings are helpful and how to implement them with your students.
When it comes to fluency practice, students need something to read. But what? Really, any text that students can read independently works for practice:
But if you're looking for more targeted practice, leveled passages are an excellent resource.
Your mandated assessments may not recognize it, but you know: your students are different. They have individual strengths, worries, talents, skills, struggles, hopes...A single text cannot meet the needs of all your learners. To foster reading growth, we have to account for student differences. To teach fluency, students have to be working at their independent levels.
This doesn't mean you need a separate passage for every student (although it can). An independent level doesn't only mean just the next step above the student's instructional level. Independence covers a broad range. Students reading on a middle-of-the-year level can practice fluency on a beginning-of-the-year difficulty.
Think about a grade-level text. With beginning 2nd graders, that might be a Henry and Mudge book. Some students in my class would be very frustrated if I expected them to read that book. But there are many students who could read it independently. For another group of students, this book would be a bit challenging, but with my support could read and understand it.
So if I'm assigning fluency passages, I look at my students' levels. Let's imagine my 4 lowest kids are on levels E, F, and 2 are on level G. I can give them all a passage on level D to practice. They will know all the words and can concentrate on reading in phrases, not pausing until they reach the punctuation, and all those other fluency skills.
My very lowest and very highest students may need personalized assignments, but typically I can select passages that will serve a large group of students. I separate my readers into low, medium, and high groups (based on my guided reading running records) and assign fluency passages accordingly (although if I have a wide range of levels I might need 2 medium groups).
Think about what works in your classroom. Another teacher on my team was a pro with Quick Reads. Her students had folders and they worked in partnerships to time and support each other. They graphed their data and tracked improvement. She used the themes from the Quick Reads to enrich her science and social studies times. It was beautiful! It was awesome! And it didn't work for me--at all!!!
What did work for me was to send the passages home. Students read the same passage for a week. They work one-on-one with a parent, get corrective feedback, and track their progress on the page. If a child didn't have the parental support to complete the assignment, I tried to have a parent volunteer work with that child during the week.
There are lots of ways to make leveled fluency passages work in your class. You just have to find a system that fits your style and the flow of your schedule.
Please note: timed repeated readings aren't best practice for the earliest readers. They're still learning concepts of print and basic sight words. Reading rate isn't the biggest concern for them. Wait until students are at least at a mid-first grade level before starting timed readings.
As the issue of reading fluency has come to the forefront, the proliferation of resources has exploded. There are packaged curriculum available and dozens of passages on Pinterest. They all claim to help students, but how do you know what will best serve your readers?
Students read 5 passages on related topics during the course of the week. Teaches vocabulary and sight words. Students must answer comprehension questions.
Uses leveled audio texts to improve students' fluency. [I have not personally used this program.]
Leveled plays for groups of students.
Fluency passages from levels F-Z. Also Reader's Theater scripts are available.
Many teachers have posted fluency passages on TPT. Be selective; not all passages are created equal! We have worked hard to make ours effective at boosting students' fluency and comprehension. Check out Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade. You can find passages organized by level here. We also have letter name, letter sound, and segmenting and blending fluency available.
If you decide you want to send home fluency homework, you might be interested in this post about getting the most out of fluency homework.
Whether or not you use our fluency resources, we hope that this post has provided you with some insight on why fluency is important and how to tackle it with your students.
I remember when they handed me my list of kids who hadn't passed their DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency. It seemed like it must be a cruel joke! Nonsense words? Really?????
Over time I've come to love and hate Nonsense Word Fluency. I love it because that first year with DIBELS at my school I had a couple learners who just weren't progressing in reading. I was trying everything I knew to do, but there wasn't much growth. Turns out, these were the same kids who didn't pass NWF. That gave me some insight that I hadn't picked up with running records.
But I hate NWF because it's such a pain! I felt like it was monitor, monitor, monitor, but I wasn't given any resources for helping fix the problem. Poking around Pinterest I found a few things, but they were mostly lists (long lists!) of nonsense words for kids to drill. "Here, struggling reader, read this list of 60 gibberish words every night for a week." This just didn't work for me for a few reasons.
First, reading a list is not addressing the real issue--poor phonological skills.
Second, If students are practicing with nonsense words, it reduces the reliability of the assessment; they may be working with words from the test. I've seen those centers where students are sorting words into real and nonsense (or silly or pretend) categories and I thought about using one, but I decided against it. If my students practiced nonsense words and they passed the assessment, I wouldn't be able to say for certain it's because the children can blend sounds or because they've seen the "word" before. And as much as I'd love to be done progress monitoring NWF, I figured it would probably be better to make sure they actually knew how to segment and blend sounds. :D
The last reason I don't like giving students nonsense word practice is really just a pet peeve: we spend so much time trying to get students to understand that reading should make sense, but then we give them a list of unintelligible words to race through! For an assessment a few times a year I can look past it, but it seemed counter intuitive to give my struggling readers nonsense words every day.
Out of all this head banging and tooth gnashing came Segmenting and Blending Fluency homework.
I wanted something that would help students learn the skill instead of just learning words. So we have 24 weeks of scaffolded homework to help those kids master the skills of segmenting and blending 1-syllable short vowel words.
Like our other beginning fluency packs (Letter Name and Letter Sound) this starts with an assessment. If you have DIBELS, you could totally just use your NWF data. If you want a targeted look at where your students are, this assessment is designed to do that.
This is a pretty quick test. Sit with a student one-on-one. Have him/her read you the 8 words on level A. These are all CVC words with a short a, e, o, or u vowel sound. If you're feeling very thorough, you can underline individual letter sounds said correctly or whole words read like you do with DIBELS, but it's not necessary. If the student correctly reads 6 or more out of the 8 words, ask him/her to read Level B. Each level is more challenging than the previous one. Continue until you find the first level where the student makes 3 or more mistakes.
There are 4 weeks of homework at each level (24 weeks total).
Each day, students read a short list of words organized around a single-syllable short vowel sound or sounds. By making the words predictable, readers can work on developing automaticity instead of having to sound out each word. After reading the words students complete a targeted activity designed to help strengthen those word chunking skills. The lists gradually progress in difficulty. The first pages have students reading cat, bat, and rat. By the last group, they're ready for shrill, cloth, and primp.
If you have a student who can read all the words correctly, but isn't passing NWF because of a slow speed, assign him/her an early level and work on the skills needed to increase speed (not pointing to each letter, recording and playing the reading back, practicing with real sentences and timing the student for a minute and doing timed rereadings, etc.).
You can pick up the Segmenting and Blending Fluency bundle in our Teachers Pay Teachers store.
If you want to sample some pages we have put together a free sampler of Kindergarten fluency pages. It includes 2 pages of Letter Name Fluency, 2 pages of Letter Sound Fluency, 2 pages of Segementing and Blending Fluency, and 4 pages of Reading Fluency passages. Click here to download the sampler.
Whether or not you use our fluency resources, we hope that this post has provided you with some insight on why fluency is important and how to tackle it with your students.