Fluency can be thought of as the bridge between decoding and comprehension. Fluency occurs when students build decoding skills enough that the decoding process becomes automatic. Fluent readers understand how words flow together in larger groups of phrasing, which helps them understand larger pieces of meaning and tone in the text.
Research tells us that when readers become more fluent, they can better focus their mental attention on the higher-level processes of comprehension. Through gaining fluency, students have the mental space to focus on other important comprehension tasks, such as making connections to background knowledge, visualizing, and generating questions and opinions as they read.
One of the best strategies for supporting fluency development is repeated reading. Students learn immensely from not only hearing adults read fluently but also through being given opportunities to mimic and practice the same fluent reading themselves. For example, a teacher may routinely read from a read-aloud book with her class. To build students fluency, she may select one page each day to have students practice reading aloud fluently. This intentional modeling and repeated practice will help students internalize the natural cadence of voice, tone, and phrasal grouping in texts.
Reading Simplified offers a great example of how the "repeated reading" strategy can be implemented during small-group instruction: