Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

A Sure-Fire Way to Improve Reading Fluency

Telling your students that they need to become fluent readers is an abstract concept that will help neither you nor your students. You can give them examples of what fluent readers do, model reading in a fluent way; but they will not truly understand the idea until they experience it themselves.

Learn by Doing

To get this first-hand experience, I had a fifth grade class bring in a book they were currently reading. They recorded themselves reading 2 pages of the book using Audacity and exported the file as an Mp3. The next lab session, they opened up the file and listened to themselves, and while they were listening, they rated their fluency using this Fluent Reader Self-Eval checklist.


Some things the students found out about their reading fluency from this activity were:

  • Pace – some found they read too fast or too slow
  • Expression – hearing themselves enabled them to decide whether or not their expression conveyed meaning
  • Punctuation Signals – a lot of students forget to pause at comas and periods
  • Voice Inflection – when reading narration or dialogue, it’s often difficult for students to change their voice. When they hear themselves reading, they really pick up on this.

Other Possibilities

You don’t need to use Audacity to record your students. Portable voice recorders can be used. Another idea is to have the students record their voice directly in a PowerPoint presentation and use the check list to add details about how their fluency can improve.


PowerPoint Voice Recording (v.2003)

PowerPoint Voice Recording (v.2007)

Fluent Reader Checklist

Audacity Tutorial


4 responses to “A Sure-Fire Way to Improve Reading Fluency

  1. Joy Penner June 23, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Love this idea. How did you handle other classroom noise? Was this done in a lab where the student was isolated or in the classroom at a station?

    • @k_ferrell June 23, 2012 at 1:27 am

      Hi Joy, thanks for your comment! It was done in a PC lab with 22 students recording at the same time. We use stick mikes and the sound came out pretty decent, not picking up much of anything but the student’s voice doing the recording.

  2. Vicky Loras February 1, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Hi Keith!
    I must repeat myself but… excellent blogpost!
    You are absolutely right, it is a different thing when kids are reading and teachers point out any problems the kids may have while reading, and it is a whole new thing when the students actually listen for themselves and pick up on any mistakes they may make while reading.
    Thank you for the resources – I will definitely try this out!
    Kindest regards,

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