Fluency Folders for the Little Ones!

Hello all!  It is so nice to visit with you today here in Literacy Land!  I am Jessica from Hanging Out in First and I am here to share with you some fluency strategies!
Fluency is such a difficult task for first grade. Personally, I find it one of the most difficult concepts to teach at this level and it is becoming such a high priority with DIBELS and AIMs Web testing.  I have never fully understood how a child is supposed to be a fluent reader before they have actually become a reader.  But I suppose, it isn't really being a fluent reader; it is being fluent with reading skills.

When I think of fluency, I think of all of those wonderful things I learned at the Timothy Rasinski workshop I attended a few years back.  You know, Reader's Theater, incorporating poetry and nursery rhymes, practice, practice, practice! Using strategies to build expression, prosody, and automaticity. These are all so many great strategies.  Implementing them in first grade, however, is difficult.

I decided to look at it a little differently.  I have been doing some research on fluency folders and decided to adapt it some to fit my own students.

First of all, I used spiral notebooks.  Personally, I do not like spiral notebooks because firsties ALWAYS lose the pages out of them.  But, one of our local stores donated hundreds of them to our school, so I will take free any day!  Each student has their own notebook and each month or so, we glue new pages into our notebook to practice. 

For my lower students, I have them focusing on letter naming, letter sounds, and phoneme segmentation.  Now that it is the middle of the year, I have also added nonsense words and short rhymes and poems.  I found these fantastic resources for FREE from Simply Kinder!



For the phoneme segmentation, I created my own fluency pages.  You can find a sample of one with this freebie!

My average and high students have been working on phonemic segmentation (even great readers can still use practice with this skill), nonsense words, and short stories.  My school has a set of fluency passages that I make copies of for the stories.

As my students have become better and better with this, I decided to also add their individual sight word lists and even ADDITION facts!!  I love combining curriculum!

You can see in the picture that when we glue in the page, the next page becomes our Lucky Listener's Club (totally a Timothy Rasinski steal! hehe). Each time that a student reads their page to a friend, the friend becomes a member of the Lucky Listener's Club (and I let them read to the same friend more than once if they like).  They love seeing how many names they can get on each page!

At this point, I do not have students track one another's progress or time each other.  I don't know how accurate it would be for first grade, and I am afraid (especially this year) that it would just turn into a silly game.  My biggest focus with this is merely to get them to practice, practice, practice!  After all, that is what makes great readers!  And you know what?  They LOVE it!  This is one of their favorite centers in our class.

Every few weeks I will assess each student on their progress so that I can track their growth.  And the thing I love the most about this?  I can differentiate their folders merely by changing the pages that go in them and the kids don't even realize it!  In their minds, they are all doing the same activity!

So, do you have any strategies that you love for teaching fluency to the little guys?

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


  1. Loved your post! Thank you for sharing what you do in first grade! I might have to try and do something like this in Kindergarten. Looks great!

  2. Thank you for your ideas! I agree with you that fluency seems silly when a lot of kids don't become good readers till at least half way through first grade. Our math is language based and it makes our not so great readers struggle in their math and their reading. Not sure why they can't wait till second grade for that type of math. (I like our math. I have just spent a lot of time tutoring first graders that were struggling in math and they usually have problems with their reading as well.

  3. Oh my Jessica! Loved this post. It really hits home with my first graders. I just saw Tim Rasinski this year...so he is in my head and all his ideas are still swimming around in there. We use the same nonsense word fluency sheets. They are great. Thanks again! Enjoyed the read.
    Curious Firsties

  4. I loved reading about The Lucky Listeners Club!!
    The Reading Tutor/OG

  5. Great post Jessica - I also just loved the idea of The Lucky Listeners' Club too and it's great to hear about approaches that are tried and tested in classrooms - just hearing how much your students love this activity, reinforces that it must be great!
    Ripper Reading Resources

  6. I love this idea. I have never heard of fluency folders before, although our reading series does include fluency sheets. I have a couple of questions about how you manage your folders...
    1. How many times do you change/add a passage for students? Do you change it as soon as they are fluent or do you have a system?
    2. How do you make sure the students know a new passage has been added and that they are reading the correct passage?
    3. Do you read the passage with them first to be sure they are reading it correctly or do you rely on the "Lucky Listeners" to correct them?
    Thank you for the post and the wonderful idea! I look forward to learning more about this.

    1. Jessica these are great questions.

      I try to add new passages on a monthly basis.We try to practice them twice a week depending on our schedule, so that gives them a lot of opportunity to become fluent with it. When I add new passages, I do not take out the old ones. That way they can still go back and review the easier ones. I check them about every two weeks depending on our schedule and use it more for progress monitoring than anything.

      The first couple of times, I did it, I put the new passages into their folders for them and we practiced them in our small groups. Now I actually have the students put the new passages in themselves during our small group/center time. We practice them together during small groups and then it is up to their lucky listener to help correct them.

      I hope this helps to answer your questions! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

      Hanging Out in First!

  7. Jessica, this was a really great post and seeing it in action, along with some samples to incorporate put it over the top. I am thinking of doing something similar with intervention students in several grades. I am curious to see your response to Jessica Adams post on how you monitor their success, etc. I am assuming you have a mastery level you test for individually.

    1. I use it for progress monitoring and compare it to our AIMS Web benchmarks that they are supposed to meet. That way I can see which students are on track for meeting their goal.

  8. Thanks for the freebie! I teach second grade and have a few students struggling with reading. This will work great in the beginning of the year.

    Smiling and Shining in Second Grade