Thoughts on Oral Reading Fluency 

Recently, I was teaching an oral reading (fluency) lesson that led me to a teachable moment: never mistake “expression” in oral reading fluency with “volume.” As we practiced using modeling and choral reading, I noticed the students becoming increasingly louder with each line of a poem. After a few minutes of this shared practice, there was nothing but yelling — not at all fluent reading!

I stopped the class. I asked why. They told me. “You said to read with expression.

Ah, yes. But…Expression does NOT equal “loud.” Expression does NOT equal “high volume.” Expression does NOT mean “yell.”

Through a little conversation with the class, I found that most of the lessons about expression that I had used in the past were scripts or passages where a character was mad, or was yelling to save some other character from danger.  Although these characters’ words were excellent models to introduce fluent reading with expression, I never did include other expressive passages in the practice phase, such as whispering to quiet a baby, trying to talk while gasping for air after a track meet, or growling to express controlled, mounting anger.

So the tip of today comes straight from my classroom: In oral reading fluency, “expression” and “volume” are not the same.

HAVE A GREAT DAY! (But don’t yell.):)