Ideas for Engaging Students with Fluency Passages


Improving reading fluency in our students is one of the main goals of any elementary school teacher. I personally struggle with finding additional resources to help build student fluency.  However, I knew I found my answer when I began using Education to the Core’s Reading Fluency Passages within my lessons. 

I am not sure if you are seeing this in your classroom too, but I feel my students plateau when it comes to fluency.  I am trying to build up their fluency rates, but curriculum decodable books and leveled readers only get me so far.  Looking for some surefire ways to improve reading fluencyConsider bringing in Education to the Core’s Reading Fluency Passages!

What is Reading Fluency?

Fluency is defined as the ability to read text easily, quickly, and with expression. When we think about or picture a “fluent” reader, we visualize an individual reading without making much effort and are able to comprehend the meaning of the text.  

When bringing up the topic of fluency, speed unfortunately comes into play.  Fluent readers read more quickly with minimal decoding.  Because fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding the words, they can focus their attention on what the text means. They can make connections amongst the ideas in the text and their background knowledge. 

Education to the Core’s Fluency Reading Passages help students practice oral fluency and accuracy.  They are also used to evaluate a students’ reading comprehension along with identifying the errors made.  



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Why are Reading Fluency Passages Important?

Reading fluency passages are important for the simplest reason… they encourage students to practice.  Practice makes perfect, right?  Well when students practice reading a piece of text more than once, students familiarize themselves with unknown words during each read.  Therefore, naturally increasing their fluency rate. 

More importantly, however, is that fluent reading leads to more success with writing, better vocabulary skills, and a greater understanding of what is being read.

Education to the Core’s Fluency Passages

Fluency passages allow students to practice oral reading fluency at their reading level while tracking the number of words read and any errors made. Education to the Core has put together 4 different levels of passages (Practically First, First Grade, Second Grade, and Third Grade). Each grade level set has a mix of 10 fiction and nonfiction passages per month for a total of 120 passages for the year. 

Grab the mega bundle which includes all 4 sets and has 480 passages ready to use for your students. (Great for differentiation when it comes to reading fluency.) And even better, every fluency passage comes with its own set of text-related comprehension questions! 

Whole Group Learning

1 – Comprehension and Text Evidence

I love using the fluency passages within my whole group teaching.  I love that they are just so adaptable.  You can have your entire class silently read to themselves first.  I like having my students mark up unfamiliar words during this initial cold read.  Once we complete the first read, students can turn to a nearby peer and read it together.  The goal is to have their peer reader help with any unfamiliar words that they identified during the first round.  So not only are they re-reading the passage, but also figuring out any unknown words. 

Finally, we come back together for whole group and have some volunteers read aloud.  ETTC’s resources always have their Teaching Trailblazers in mind because they also include the comprehension questions to go along with each passage!  

When reviewing the comprehension questions whole group, it is important to me that we discuss not only the answers but WHERE they found them.  Returning to the text and using text evidence to answer the question is something my students often struggle with.  

2 – Cross-Curricular Passages

Are your social studies and science lessons embedded within your reading curriculum?  Well, Reading Fluency Passages fit right into your whole group learning.  Each monthly bundle comes with 5 fiction and 5 nonfiction passages. It is a great way for your students to access the important information to be learned on their reading level. 

3 – Extension Activities

After reading the passage, you can have a class discussion on the topic, answer the comprehension questions, or extend the learning with an activity or experiment. Pair this passage on Dental Month with a science experiment on tooth enamel. 


Using Fluency Passages Within a Small-Group

Whole group learning is great, but we know that flexible small group instruction when appropriate is considered best practice. Differentiation is key when providing instruction on a targeted skill within small groups.  Here is where ETTC’s Reading Fluency Passages come into play!  

1 – My curriculum is just not enough practice

When your curriculum decodable and leveled readers just are not enough fluency practice for your students… *ta-da* Education to the Core to the rescue!  If you have the mega bundle, it gives you four different passages on the same topic, which allows for easy differentiation among your guided reading groups. 

2 – Informal Assessments

Looking for another informal fluency assessment for groups or to help identify students who may be struggling?  Your students can do a cold-timed read for your informal assessments.  Then they can continue their fluency practice on the next two reads as well as answer the comprehension questions.  Working in small groups, students answer the questions together, but also go back and highlight where in the text they found the answer! 

3 – Warm-ups

The fluency passages are also a great one-minute warm-up for your students when they first sit down for guided reading groups. It gives them quick fluency practice, while you are monitoring the rest of the class as they transition to the next small group center or station. Those students are engaged and no instructional time is lost while the rest of your class gets settled on their next activity.

Independent Practice

Alright, so Education to the Core’s fluency passages seem like a great fit for whole group as well as small-group instruction.  What about independent practice?  The whole purpose of becoming a fluent reader is practice, right?

1 – Self Monitoring

Toss a passage in your fluency center with a recording graph and a sand timer and your students can be in charge of monitoring their own fluency progress. Or have your students’ partners read and help each other track their progress. Once they’ve recorded the number of words read and their errors, if any, they can either complete the comprehension questions or take those to the next center rotation. With 10 different passages per month, you have plenty to keep this center going all school year.  

2 – Writing Extension

I LOVE to incorporate writing within any lesson that I possibly could and have time for.  Fluency helps build vocabulary and more success with writing.  A great idea for students that are needing an extension is to write! You can come up with different options or a choice board for your writing extension.  Option 1) Extend the theme.  Since these reading passages are all themed-based, it is easy for students to continue writing the passage staying within the theme.  Option 2) Remember those unknown words we spoke about earlier?  Have your students find out the definition of that unknown word and see if they can use it in a different sentence and situation.  Option 3) If the passage contains a problem, can the student solve it in another way?  

3 – Emergent Readers

While activities for emergent readers to practice fluency can look slightly different, the basic concepts are the same – helping students to lessen their focus on decoding words so that they can comprehend the meaning of the text and make connections, all while adding phrasing/appropriate pauses to their reading so it sounds like talking. Check out this blog for some additional group and independent activities.  Numbers 1 and 6 are my absolute favorites and must be in my room! 


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Is There a Family Component to Fluency Passages?

Family connections are so important within any classroom.  The likelihood of students’ fluency skills increases when the same strategies and repetition of skills are completed at home as well as in the classroom.   

Recently, I wrote a blog about Homework in the Primary Classroom.  No matter how your views fall regarding homework, many districts or teachers have a “reading log”.  Again, no matter how your views fall about reading logs remain to be known.  How about we pair this “reading log” with ETTC’s Fluency Passages? 

You can also show your parents how to help monitor fluency goals and progress by sending home a fluency practice kit. Included in this kit would be the passage for the week and a sand timer. Parents can track one of two ways depending on how you would want to use the passages for homework. 

They can either track the number of words read correctly in one minute (with the use of the sand timer), or they can have their child read the entire passage and only record the number of errors, if any, their child had while reading. With the goal being to have fewer errors each day they read the passage. 

Your daily recording sheet could look something like this:
  • Day 1 – Cold Read (either one-minute or counting errors)
  • 2nd Day – Warm Read (either one-minute or counting errors)
  • Day 3 – Hot Read (either one-minute or counting errors)
  • 4th Day – Read with Comprehension in mind (read the whole passage and answer questions)

Other ETTC Resources to Pair with Fluency Passages

A common theme I spoke about throughout this entire blog was the concept of practice.  What other amazing Education to the Core resources can be paired with these fluency passages for even more fluency practice? 

1 – Monthly Mini-Books

If you are looking for a slightly younger version of monthly passages for young learners who are working on fluency goals, take a look at our Monthly Mini-Books bundle. Each month comes with:

  • Themed mini-book per week
  • Writing topic per week
  • Illustrated Vocabulary for the mini-books used that month
  • Word Work Center for each month
2 – Monthly Packets

Maybe you really like the idea of thematic teaching each month, but are looking for resources beyond fluency practice. We have monthly packets for Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade. These packets include themed worksheets for the month covering phonics, math, writing, grammar, science, social studies, and more. 

3 – Readers Theatre Scripts

To continue building fluency and expression consider Readers Theatre!  One of my personal favorites to include within my 2nd-grade classroom.  I always like to point out with this one to truly know your students.  Not every student will be comfortable enough to participate within Readers Theatre, so be sure to plan accordingly.  

4 – Phonics Based Fluency and Comprehension Passages

Less fluent readers, however, must focus their attention on figuring out the words, leaving them little attention for understanding the meaning of the text.  Perhaps your students (or some of your students) are requiring a bit more practice with decoding skills.  What better way than to focus purely on just one phonics skill.  

This reading comprehension resource was created for kindergarten and first-grade students. Included in this bundle, are 89 passages focusing on each phonics component while focusing on reading fluency. These passages include fluency tracking and three written comprehension questions for each passage.

Wow! Education to the Core’s Fluency Passages fit into my daily routines so well. Whether I am focusing on whole group, small groups, or individual practice!  These fluency passages could even have a home component!  What other ways or ideas are you thinking about to incorporate ETTC’s fluency passages into your classrooms?  I always love to hear about how others are incorporating amazing resources like these! So be sure to check out each of these amazing sets of Reading Fluency Passages! 

Written By – Janessa Fletcher & Christopher Olson

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