The Essentials of Developing Reading Fluency

Dr. Timothy Rasinski, Professor of Literacy Education at Kent State University, describes the “essentials” of developing reading fluency in the video linked here. The claims he makes throughout the presentation are buttressed with strong evidence and, moreover, he is quite adept at sharing best practices that can be implemented immediately. The minutes have been marked to help in finding ideas and research that can be taken into the classroom.

2:07 Rasinski shares the “fluency exercise” that he has all of the struggling students working with each day. In short, students read and sing songs. Rasinski points out that this enables students to practice reading out loud a short text multiple times.

7:30 Rasinski explains how he was persuaded fluency matters with research about adults with Alzheimer’s disease who were able to retain songs and poetry despite obvious memory loss. He also shares a study of 1st graders who were consistently taught with songs and the strong reading gains students enjoyed.

14:03 Rasinksi explains where you can find fluency in the Common Core.

16:49 Rasinski outlines two strategies to teach students about words. The first is called Word Ladders and the second has students working with word families.

22:38 Rasinski describes how fluency is the “bridge” to comprehension. He makes the point that if too much effort is spent decoding, then students don’t have the mental energy to comprehend. The solution is to have students practice with fluency.


26:49 Prosody. Rasinski helpfully explains why this helps promote comprehension with reference to studies with 4th graders. In short, it matters.

32:02 Rasinksi acknowledges that finding time will be an issue but he notes how it can be embedded in the school day. To help this happen he developed MAP which stands for Model fluent reading, Assisted reading and Practice.

With assisted reading, Rasinski shares the value of doing choral reading, paired reading and audio reading. My guess is many readers are already doing this and having Dr. Rasinski quote the research to support these instructional moves should feel affirming. For example, struggling students who worked with strong readers on reading out loud showed three times as much progress compared to when they did not do this (35:52).

47:48 Rasinski concludes with what happens when a classroom teacher creates “synergy” which can be done with the Fluency Developmental Lesson (FDL). It begins with finding a daily text that you make two copies of.

  1. Teacher model reads the text
  2. Students and teachers chorally read (three times)
  3. Students practice with a partner
  4. Student perform with the text
  5. Class examines and plays with words from text (word study)
  6. Second copy goes home—never to come back to school—to read to family

You can view the presentation here.

About Aaron Grossman

I am a 5th grade teacher at Roy Gomm Elementary in Reno, Nevada. I started working with elementary students as part of the Montana Reads program and AmeriCorps. In 2001, after graduating from the University of Montana and moving to Reno, Nevada, I student taught at Rita Cannan Elementary before receiving a 6th grade position at Veterans Elementary. I moved out of the classroom to be a Literacy Coordinator, then an Instructional Coach, and finally a School Improvement Program Coordinator. In 2011, I began working on the Nevada Academic Content Standards in the district’s Curriculum & Instruction Department. I returned to the classroom for the 2015-2016 school year to teach 4th grade at Huffaker Elementary. Before returning to the classroom, I helped develop the Core Task Project that has been featured by National Public Radio, the Gates Foundation, American Radio Works, Eduwonk, the Fordham Institute, Vox, and the Center for American Progress. In 2014, I received the Leader to Learn From Award for my teacher-centered initiative and work to bring college, career, and civics ready outcomes into Northern Nevada classrooms (here). In 2015, I was appointed by Governor Sandoval serve on the Statewide RPDP Council. The same year, Nevada’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero placed me on the state’s State Improvement Team. This year I will be part of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Advisory Group. I am Google Certified Educator and a Nevada Teacher Ambassador. I believe strongly that teaching content is teaching reading and I make sure my students have ample opportunities to work with social studies, history, science and art outcomes. I do what I can to blend the learning for my students and this blog is part of that effort. You can contact me at
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1 Response to The Essentials of Developing Reading Fluency

  1. Arlene Dulaney says:

    how long will you continue to do these postings. as a reading specialist, in another lifetime, i could not agree more re energy and motivation. ad >

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