Skip to main content

How to get started

Choose either commercially available fluency passages that relate to your content or write your own passages based on the critical content objectives you expect your students to master. Follow these steps in writing your own passages:

  1. Identify the "big ideas" of the chapter or unit.
  2. Select five to eight key words that are essential for students to automatically and accurately identify and understand when they encounter them.
  3. Then either choose a section to rewrite at a lower reading level or write an original 125-150 word sample that explains the big ideas you have chosen and contains the key words.
  4. If you are using textbook material, compact the text (reduce the amount) by deleting unimportant or repeated information and collapsing long lists of items into a single word or phrase.
  5. Write a passage of 150 words that includes the big ideas and uses all of the key concept words. Pretend you are "talking the text" to your students. Write as simply as possible using short sentences and a minimum of unfamiliar words (except for new vocabulary).
  6. Ask a colleague to read your passage for clarity and accuracy.
  7. Determine the reading grade level of your sample using an online resource like the Flesch-Kincaid scale. Your goal is to lower the reading level by at least two to three grades.
  8. Prepare copies for students to practice reading aloud to family members several times each evening, Monday through Thursday.
  9. After you hand out the fluency passage on Monday, give a pre-test of oral reading fluency (words correct per minute). Give a post-test on Friday after students practiced reading the passage aloud for four evenings.
  10. Graph the results. 

Related resource

McEwan, E.K. (2007). Raising reading achievement in middle and high schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Raising Reading Achievement in Middle and High Schools