Fluency Breakthrough!


Greetings from Literacy Land! It's Emily from The Reading Tutor/OG here, and I'm here to discuss a great fluency tip today.

Do you have students that get lost when reading dialogue? Over the past few weeks, I've been working on some fluency passages with my students at the end of Orton-Gillingham sessions. The passages I chose were a little heavy in dialogue. I knew this could be tricky for my students, especially the ones who don't pay attention to punctuation as well as proficient readers do. Text that's heavily laden in dialogue also can pose a comprehension problem. After reading several lines of dialogue, have you ever asked a child the following questions:
  •  "So, who's talking in that part?"
  • "What did _____ just say?"
  •  "Who's telling the story?"
  • "How do you know?"
You may be surprised at their responses! If they can't determine who is speaking when, or who the narrator is, that's a comprehension breakdown.

Back to my kiddos- I decided to try a highlighting strategy for identifying who was speaking and WHEN to use a different tone in your voice. Here's a pic of the passage I used. This passage was taken from a collection of Bonnie Kline phonetic stories that I use to match the skill I'm working on in OG. We were working on r-controlled vowels that day.

  1. First read: I had the student read it out loud to me as a cold read. Then, we discussed how many characters were speaking and what their tone of voice should be when we read their dialogue. After that, I let the student choose 2 different colored highlighters and reread it to out loud.
  2. Second read: THIS TIME, she had to highlight JoAnn's words in orange and Mrs. Martin's in pink. It was slow going during this read. She really had to pay attention, reread, and choose which words to highlight carefully.
  3. Third read: The student had to read the story using different voices for Joann and Mrs. Martin.
Boy, what a difference on the third read compared to the first! She knew who was speaking, their tone of voice so she could apply the right cadence to her voice while reading and the super bonus, she could retell the passage beautifully. By highlighting during the second read, this student was able to clarify who was speaking, what the problem was and what events were taking place.

This was a fluency breakthrough for me! I won't use the highlighting strategy every time I read with a student, but, it's definitely been a huge help for this child when reading dialogue in text. She is much more equipped to answer the questions I mentioned earlier in this post when discussing a book.

Have you tried this strategy before, or perhaps something similar? I'd love to hear about it, so feel free to leave me some comments or ask questions below.

Thank you for visiting Literacy Land today. See you in August!




  1. Great idea! I like the highlighting and will definitely try that in my reading groups!

  2. That's an awesome strategy, Em! Can't wait to use it with my students. :)