Fluency Scaffolding from basic skills to fluent readers!
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Fluency 1 Days 1-10: Systematic Scaffolding of Difficulty

What reading levels are the warm-ups for? What grade levels are the reading warm-ups for? Consonant blends looks too simple, or is it?

These are questions I’ve received several times in the last few days, so I thought I’d give a quick answer by walking through the scaffolding in days 1-10 of the Fluency 1 unit.

Fluency 1, is the first unit in our free word study warm-ups and is designed to build decoding fluency for middle-elementary readers.

Systematic Scaffolding of Difficulty

That is a real fancy way of saying, it gets harder each day. But actually, there’s a little more to it.

Really, systematic scaffolding is carefully planned sequence of instruction. It is also a carefully planned sequence of curriculum content that works toward fluency.

Fluency Scaffolding in Fluency 1

The skills build each day into more complexity and greater automaticity. Day 1 may feel a little slow, but compare it to Day 5. Then jump ahead and compare it to Day 10.

The increase in complexity and speed is noticeable!

The fluency scaffolding in the first 10 days starts with basic skills and builds toward fluency in word recognition skills.

Content in Days 1-3

  • Mostly short vowel patterns.
  • Mostly blends with the letter s.

Content in Days 4-5

  • The n blends.
  • Monosyllabic words.
  • The earlier s blends are integrated into these words.

Content in Days 6-7

  • Blends with p.
  • Previous blends are integrated into the words (i.e. stump, plank).
  • Words are increasing in length.
  • Activities are increasing in speed.

Content in Day 8

  • This is 3rd spiral review, and it has all of the blends so far.
  • The variety of blends makes it hard to predict words in the timed activities.
  • Students have to rely more on decoding skills instead of prediction.

Content in Days 9-10

  • Difficult r blends: br and dr
  • They are easily confused by early readers.
  • Pronunciation of these blends can be difficult for younger readers and ELLs.
  • Slow blending activities for scaffolding.
  • Timed activities increase in speed.
How do the Free Word Study Warm-Ups scaffold fluency?

Teaching Tips for Fluency 1 Days 1-10

Overestimating the level of your students.

This is not referring to having “high expectations”. This is about matching the warm-ups to the needs of your students. Consonant blends appear to be fairly easy. But hold on!

Your DRA levels M and N need these skills. In other words, grades 2-3 should really work through days 1-10. Grades 4-5 intervention groups should also start on days 1-10.

My Recommended Pacing

For any group grades 2-5, you should complete Days 1-3. If you judge that these skills are too simple, then jump ahead to week two, Days 6-10.

Give it two days in week 2, and make another assessment. If the students are ready to move ahead, then jump into the final week of Fluency 1. This accelerated pacing would only take 1-2 weeks to complete. Then you could use the warm-ups for stations or center work.

How to Know When to Accelerate

If 15% or more of the students do not have the automaticity to complete the oral response and written tasks, then your students need to work all of the warm-ups in Fluency 1.

This follows a basic RTI metric that assumes 85-90% of the student can master grade-level content in tier 1 instruction.

If less than 85% of your students can demonstrate adequate automaticity of the warm-ups, then you know this is the correct instructional level.

Just-Right Instruction Makes Tremendous Growth

When the instructional level is just-right, growth occurs steadily and quickly. This is because mastery is solid and there are minimal gaps. Moving through the entire unit of Fluency 1 is a sure way to have systematic instruction that creates steady growth in reading and writing skills.


If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments below.





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