Reading Fluency Strategies Include Word Walls

Reading fluency strategies should include fluency activities related to practicing words on walls. Once children have mastered most of the Dolch sight words by reading them in sentences and phrases, it becomes all about practice, practice, and more practice to build fluency.

Reader's Theater and Partner Reading are two very good ways for them to get this practice, and partner reading is a way to continue building sight word vocabulary. It is, in my opinion, one of the strongest reading fluency strategies.

How I Did It

I began with a collection of easy chapter books for my second grade Title I students and secured multiple copies of each title. Partners chose which books they wanted to read, and when they came upon a word they were unable to read, they raised their hands so that I could tell them the word. I wrote each of these words down on a list and later wrote them on 4 x 6 cards.

Using 30 cards per week, we played all kinds of games with the cards before placing them on the word wall and moving to the next set of 30 cards. We learned so many words, in fact, that I was faced with the problem of where to put them all so I came up with the notion of having “secret words” on the word wall, which the children loved.

Secret Words

I stapled new words on top of the old words, securing them at the top so that we could lift them up to see the “old” words so we could still reference and review them. When students recognized a word during partner reading time, they skipped to the word wall, showed it to me, then skipped back to their partner. This physical coordination component was important in extending memory tracks so that students remembered the words the next time they saw them.

Card Games

Each week we played card games with the set of 30 words the children found in their reading. They always remembered which words were the ones they found, and this gave them a feeling of ownership and placed the words in their context.

Two of their favorite card games were the Skipping Game and Word Hunt.

Other card games included:


I found this game on a teacher message board and am (unfortunately) unable to retrace my steps to give credit to the person with whom it originated. I adapted it to our needs, and this is the version we played.

Write the word “POW!” on seven blank cards, “Lose a Turn” on seven, and “Take another turn” on seven more. Place these cards in the set of word cards children are practicing, shuffle, and place face down in the center of the table.

Players take turns drawing a card from the top of thestack and reading the word. The player then holds the word up to see if the other players agree that he has read the word correctly. Those who do not agree may “steal” the word by reading it correctly, in which case the player must surrender the card.

If a player draws a card on which is written “Take another turn,” he draws an additional card. If a player draws a card which says, “Lose a turn,” play passes to the next person. If“POW!” is drawn, the player must first read all of his words then choose whether the words will go back into the stack or to another player of his choosing. In order for the other player(s) to be eligible to accept words given by another player, he must be able to read the words correctly.

Words not read correctly will be returned to the stack.

The person with the most cards at the end of the allotted time is the winner, though since all players have had fun and practiced words, in this reading fluency strategy they are all really winners!

Pick It

The facilitator holds all the word cards in a fan shape, holding them up for each child to choose a card. If the child is able to read the word correctly, he or she may keep the card. If not, the card goes back into the pack. The student having them most when all the cards are gone is the winner.

Go to Reading Fluency from Reading Fluency Strategies
Go to Reading Fluency Activities from Reading Fluency Strategies

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See also

Reading Fluency
Reading fluency is what bridges the gap between Dolch sight words and reading comprehension. Teaching reading fluency with various fluency activities leads to the ability to read for meaning.

Reading Fluency Activities
Reading fluency activities build reading fluency which leads to improved comprehension skills.Choral reading of poetry and partner reading are two effective strategies for improving reading fluency.

Children Writing Stories
Children writing stories to read themselves is one of the most powerful reading fluency strategies. If they write it, they will read it so teaching the writing process is important to reading.

Reader's Theater
Readers Theater is one of the most effective reading fluency activities. Readers Theater scripts are readily available making teaching reading fluency easy and affordable.

The Secret Words

As our collection of Partner Reading words grew at a rate of 30 per week, I began stapling new words over the old ones at the end of every week, creating "Secret Words."

Then, when reading the words and playing sight word games at the word wall, I would have students read the secret words that were underneath.

They loved it - and oral reading fluency improved dramatically!

Word Wall with secret words and a total of 168 words in all!

This word wall has Secret Words - and a total of 168 words in all!

Oral Reading Fluency Percent of Increase