Fluency Boot Camp

26 Feb

Fluency Boot Camp CAMO Blog Promo (1)

Break up the mid-winter slump, and bring Fluency Boot Camp into your classroom!

What is a Fluency Boot Camp?

No… you will not be shipping your students off (sorry), nor will students have to march around the room (your choice), but I can guarantee that your students’ brains will be sweating as they participate in the classroom fluency camp you create!

Just like any boot camp, students will build confidence through practice and drills. You can organize it for just one day, or you can set it up to last a full-week or month! Keep in mind, after just one day, students will start melting-away their non-fluent reading habits… and by the end of the week or month, students will be on their way to becoming confident, fluent readers! 🙂

Are you sold on the idea yet?

How to Organize Your Fluency Boot Camp

Fluency Boot Camp can be modified and customized for pretty much any grade-level and classroom situation. You can set up your Fluency Boot Camp the way YOU want, in any form or style. Consider including overviews of fluency components, practice “drills,” and reinforcement activities. I will be sharing many resources to help you get started, but you may need to do a little exploring and research to create your program to meet the needs of your students. One boot camp does NOT fit all!

Here’s a Fluency Boot Camp Planning Page to help you get started!

Fluency Boot Camp Materials

Necessary Materials:

  • One group of willing soldiers… I mean, students!
  • Reading passages
  • Poetry
  • Readers Theater Scripts
  • Word/Phrase Cards
  • Fluency Graphs
  • Microphone (for audio recording)
  • Clock/Stopwatches

NOTE: Digital stopwatches are preferred, however you can use an ordinary wall clock or hour-glass board game timers if necessary. If you’re looking to purchase stop watches, I would highly recommend ones that can count up and down. There are some great kitchen timers that do this! If you have access to a few computers, there are online stop watches too!

Optional (Fun) Materials:

  • Whistles (ha!)
  • Drill Sergeant Hat/Button (for the teacher, of course!)
  • T-Shirts (builds-up community and team play when all students are dressed in the same “uniform”!)
  • Survival Packs (including snacks & tissues for their sweating brains!)

What is Fluency?

Let’s start with what fluency is…

Fluency is the ability to read smoothly and automatically, with expression and attention to punctuation!

That’s my simple definition, but I really could expand it to include much more (i.e., prosody, melody, etc.). Do keep in mind, that accuracy plays a huge part in fluency, and students need to ask themselves the big three questions to monitor their reading: “Does it look right? Does it sound right? Does it make sense?” Often, struggling readers have a hard time with fluency due to their self-monitoring and decoding difficulties (which can be addressed in small group intervention groups, separate from Fluency Boot Camp), and as a result their comprehension is greatly affected.  Decoding, comprehension, and fluency all go hand-in-hand, so when one piece of the puzzle is weak, the other pieces may suffer!

Struggling readers are not the only ones who need extra support with fluency though! I have many on and above grade-level readers who have difficulty with fluency too. A few of my best readers have wonderful decoding and comprehension skills but are slow and methodical readers. Some of my other high readers read so fast that they stumble over their words or miscue left and right. Fluency is all about finding the “just right” balance of pace, phrasing, expression, and attention to punctuation (with accuracy to tie it all together!). It is an essential literacy skill to develop, which is why a Fluency Boot Camp is the perfect “intervention” for any classroom.

Getting Started

So are you ready to develop a Fluency Boot Camp that will be beneficial for ALL the students in your classroom?

I would recommend starting the first day with an overview of the major fluency components: Pace, Phrasing, Expression, and Punctuation. Each day (or week!) you can get into the “nitty gritty” of each component, with explicit modeling and opportunities for student practice. I would also send home a letter explaining Fluency Boot Camp with a fluency reference sheet attached so they can provide reinforcement as well. Perhaps you’ll want to tie in the daily homework with the boot camp activities, or perhaps you send home a book-in-a-bag and you’ll want the students to practice fluency with those!

(A great FREE student fluency resource to download from my TpT store!)

Online Tools & Resources:

Before you go into the activities, I would create a Fluency Folder for your students to keep all their Fluency Boot Camp materials! The overview reference sheet can be page 1!

NOTE: For an easy-to-make folder, I usually laminate a large piece of construction paper and then fold it in half to create a colorful (cheap)  folder that lasts. I punch 3 holes in it and use paper clasps to keep the papers in the folder. All my fluency activity sheets, graphs, reflections are 3-hole punched so the materials can go right into the folder.

Here are some printable folder labels you can put on the folders before you laminate!

The “Nitty Gritty” Fluency Activities

As I said in the getting started section, I would begin with an overview and then go into a full day (or week!) for each component. You can pick and choose which activities you integrate, so pick ones that will fit the learning styles and needs of your students.For each activity, make sure you model, model, MODEL! Whether it’s an independent activity or a partner one, students need to SEE what the activity looks like and what the expectations are for them. These activities are ones that are more effective with repetition, so be sure to implement them a few times during the camp. You may also want to bring them back later in the year for extra review and reinforcement! We all know students benefit from extra practice!


Pace = the speed in which you read

  • The goal is to read at a “just right” pace
  • Reading not too fast and not too slow

Speed Drills — Speed drills build fluency because they help students quickly recognize letters, words, word families, common syllables, and spelling patterns in multi-syllabic words (depending on your grade-level). Students love trying to beat their score, especially those who have an extra competitive gene in them! I typically do 1-minute partner drills and have the students graph their progress for each attempt!

Reading Passages (Cold/Hot Reads) — Cold and hot reads are perfect for students to see their progress in their reading pace after practice! A “Cold Read” is when a student reads a passage for the very first time (no practice). A “Hot Read” is when the students are warmed-up and have practiced the passage a few times. Students can time themselves or work with a partner! I have my students set a goal for themselves… typically it’s words per minute (wpm) range for themselves, so they have a number to shoot for! They color this range in or block it off with a highlighter on their graphs.

Download  a sample fluency graph here!

(WPM = Total # words in passage multiplied by 60 (seconds), then divided by the total number of seconds the students read)

Online Tools & Resources:

Speed Drills:

Reading Passages:


Phrasing = Chunking the words together into meaningful phrases

  • Reading in phrases and not reading words one.word.at.a.time.

Phrases are chunks of meaningful text and I usually start this day by introducing the three main types of phrases: Who, Did What, and Where/When/Add-On. I model different phrases and how to put them together in a meaningful sequence to make sentences. Students can then practice creating their own phrases using “Connect-a-Dot Sentences.”

(Here’s a free copy from my TpT store!)

Students can also practice phrasing through speed drills with sight word phrases (use a deck of phrase cards or the slide show below).

First 100 Fry Phrases (slideshow) for a computer speed drill!

Additionally, students can also practice phrasing by using phrase-cued text. Marking the end of phrases with a slash / or the end of lines with //. I also have my students “scoop” their words by underlining or drawing curved scoop lines under the words in each phrase (see student reference sheet above for an example). They then can trace the scoops with their fingers during reading for the first few practice reads. Eventually they should remove the finger scooping so it can become an automatic habit inside their heads!

NOTE: It’s important to make the connection between punctuation and phrasing here. Commas and periods are natural phrase markers and students should use these marks to help them read in meaningful phrases.

Online Tools & Resources:


Expression= Reading with feeling in your voice

  • Changing your voice to match a character
  • Reading like you would speak (and not like a robot!)
  • Moving your voice up and down

Readers Theater and Poetry are two great ways for students to practice expression (and tie in the components of fluency as well). For both types of text, students can apply expression and practice putting feeling and emotion into their reading!

Readers Theater is a reading play, of sorts. There is no scenery or intricate costumes involved, just students and reading scripts. I like to use puppets, hats, and props but it is not necessary. Students are assigned parts and can practice their lines independently or with their group. A performance can take place for students to “show-off” their amazing expression!

Poetry reading is a little less involved than Readers Theater activities, but just as effective! During regular instruction, you can integrate all sorts of word work and mini-lessons on poetry elements, but sometimes it’s perfect for just plain ole’ fluency! Students especially love reading silly poems , so this is a time to break out the Shel Silverstein and Kenn Nesbitt. As long as students can control their giggles, they’ll love having time during Fluency Boot Camp to explore and read these poems… with fluency, of course!

NOTE: Practice is key with both, and students should read each repeatedly to build up good fluency.

Online Tools & Resources:

Readers Theater Scripts:


NOTE: A great poetry book for your classroom is Partner Poems for Building Fluency. It is listed for grades 4-6, but I’ve used some of them with my 2nd and 3rd graders as well. You can download sample pages here! A younger version of Partner Poems for Building Fluency for Grades 2-4 is available on Amazon, but I’ve haven’t check it out yet!

Looking for more partner poetry?! Check out some of my own original partner poems here!


Punctuation = Reading with attention to punctuation

  • stopping and taking breaths at periods . . .
  • pausing at commas , , ,
  • making your voice go up for question marks ? ? ?
  • showing excitement for exclamation points ! ! !
  • using “quotations” to change voice for characters

Writing with punctuation is often a chore for students, but reading with punctuation can be fun! Tying right in with expression, students can practice using the different kinds of punctuation when they read. First I model what reading sounds like without punctuation. By the end I’m panting for breath and ready to pass out, since I didn’t pause once. Students get a kick out of this but it definitely proves a point. Sometimes I’ll give them a punctuation-less passage to try on their own. They can even “fix it up” after to make it sound right, putting in the periods, commas, quotations marks, etc.

I also love giving students a sentence like, “I love french fries” and having them read it three different ways:

I love french fries.

I love french fries?

I love french fries!

Students can practice making and reading their own sentences three different ways with a partner or small group.

Another activity to try, is to have punctuation cards for students to hold up while a partner reads a short poem or a passage. As students HEAR punctuation, they hold up the appropriate card to show they know which one was used. Students have to be careful readers when they read the poem/passage, and careful listeners when it’s their turn to hold the cards!

Online Tools & Resources:


Podcasting — Students record “podcasts” or audio files of themselves reading. Students can record their before and after reading to observe the difference. After, they can reflect and set goals for themselves for the next time they read! (This is VERY powerful for students to listen to their own reading!)

Online Tools & Resources:

Other Great Resources…


  • HELPS (FREE comprehensive fluency program with many great resource links!)


NOTE: For grade-specific fluency resources from from the Florida Center for Reading Research, click on these links:  K-12-34-5 and then scroll down to the “Fluency” section!

Professional Books:


Here is a packet I shared with the teachers in my building that includes a list of these books and websites, along with additional ideas for Oral Reading Fluency Activities.

Celebrating Survival

Don’t forget to celebrate student success (and survival!). Download these stickers for students to wear, and a printable certificate for students to take home! (Note: You can print it as a full sheet or two to a page under print options!)

You can even have an awards ceremony to hand out the certificates. Perhaps the students can vote on the students in the class who exemplified “Most Improved” or “Best Pace,” etc. Just be sure to make it fair and include all students somehow! We don’t want any tears in this kind of boot camp!

Also, a great follow-up to Fluency Boot Camp would be for students to reflect on their success and can even complete an “I can…” strategy/skill reflection sheet for fluency! Students can keep these in their Fluency Folders for future reference and reminders.

Hope you’ve found these resources helpful! Now it’s time to “Fall in Line!” and find the program that works best for you! 🙂 I would love to see pictures or hear stories “from the trenches” about how Fluency Boot Camp worked out in your classroom. Please email me at msjordanreads@gmail.com or share a comment below!

**This post contains affiliate links. Click HERE to learn what that means!

(NOTE: The resources on this blog are ones that I have used with my students grades 2-5. Many of the activities can be modified for younger students but not all may be appropriate. The ideas shared are just a starting point and not an exhaustive list. With that in mind, I would be happy to explore some options for your unique setting if you just email me or leave a comment below!)

If you are interested in bringing a Fluency Boot Camp into your classroom and would like additional materials and activities, consider checking out my “Fluency Boot Camp” classroom resource! This product has 70- pages of extra posters, activities, forms, and student materials

An additional product, with 50 pages of supplemental  Word Lists and Speed Drill Materials, can be found here!


40 Responses to “Fluency Boot Camp”

  1. Jill Esposito February 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    I LOVE this!!! Thank you so much for sharing. This works perfectly into my Fluency intervention classes.

    • MsJordanReads February 27, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

      Great to hear! Let me know how your students like it! 🙂


  2. Jennifer Runde February 26, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    WOW! What a great idea, and I love how you shared it. Thank-you!

    Runde’s Room

    • MsJordanReads February 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

      Thank you for visiting and checking out my blog! Hope you find the ideas and resources helpful. Let me know if I can answer any questions! 🙂


  3. Karyn Miller February 26, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    As I was going through every piece and link that you have provided, I noticed that many of the activities were geared towards upper elementary (Gr 4-5) outside of the sight words and syllable practice. Do you have any resources from the Florida site or elsewhere that could be used for 2nd graders? I really like this idea and would love to do it with my students, but want them to feel some success, not frustration because the activities are too difficult. Looking forward to your reply 🙂

  4. April February 26, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Wow, this is awesome!! Is this for a specific grade? I am a new follower. Come check out my blog when you have a chance.


    • MsJordanReads February 27, 2012 at 9:05 pm #


      With the resources I shared, I would say grades 2-6 but you can definitely modify it for ANY grade level. I just added a few more links for early primary classrooms. See my other comments!


      (PS. I just checked out your blog! Wonderful ideas and resources!)

  5. Kim Simpson February 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this! im going to try it out with my third graders!

    • MsJordanReads February 27, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

      Wonderful! I would love to hear how it goes! 🙂

  6. Holly March 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    I’m so happy I found this. I will probably be home instructing a student this summer where fluency is a problem. I can use this in the summer to help him improve his reading along with his other goals!

  7. Jenna March 4, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    I just wanted to say that reading this just gave me the boost I needed. I have begun to feel like I’ve hit a brick wall in planning for my guided reading groups and I just got so excited thinking of the student who will benefit as a result of your ideas. I had been doing fluency with a few of my student in the beginning of the year but it just got boring and tedious, but I know feel excited to spend my day planning this! Thank you so much for the great ideas! I love the idea of the terminology “boot camp” as well, what a great motivator for students!

    • MsJordanReads March 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

      Thank you for your comment! It’s nice to hear that the ideas I share on my blog are making a difference. I truly hope this Boot Camp idea helps your students and makes a difference for the students who need it! Good luck and let me know if you have any questions along the way. 🙂

  8. heather March 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Love this! Thanks for sharing. Head over to my new 2nd grade blog if you get a chance. http://secondgradeperks.blogspot.com/

  9. Mary Bauer March 8, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    I had to smile at the theme of “Boot Camp.” My students all know I was a sergeant in the Army Reserves, so this will give new meaning to the program.

  10. Erika March 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    I just found your blog and love it! I gave you an award. Please come over and get it.

    2B Honey Bunch
    The Best Endings

  11. Peg D March 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Wow, Wow, Wow! Thank you for all the time and resources. Excited to try with my reading intervention groups.

    • MsJordanReads March 29, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

      Thank you, Peg! Please come back and share how it goes! Let me know if you have any questions as you go along!

  12. Misty April 1, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I’m interested in trying this the week after our state testing which happens to be just befor DIBELS. I’m mtersted in knowing though, how much time each day you spend on the activities or a schedule that you use. Looks like a great think for the kiddos to experience.

    • MsJordanReads April 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm #


      You can customize It however you want! I know time is always a challenge, but if you’re doing a one-week camp, I would try to dedicate 45-60 minutes a day! Students can rotate through centers or you can set it up as a choice board (eg. complete this many activities by the end of the week, etc.). You may even want to do fluency conferences or coaching with your struggling readers during this time. Start with mini lessons and then have students try it out independently. You can even do two 10 min mini-lessons and two 20 minute independent work blocks.

      It’s completely up to you! 🙂 Hope this helps to answer your question!


      • Misty April 2, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

        Thanks a million- I purchased the pack on TPT today- cant wait to get it all going. I think it will really help!

        • MsJordanReads April 2, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

          Let me know how it goes or if I can answer any more questions! 🙂

  13. Courtney Long April 22, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    I love this idea! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m taking a grad class in fluency right now so your post has definitely given me further insight.

  14. Kathy Balek May 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    We are winding down the school year and I have been looking for something for my kindergarten students to do this coming week that would be different. I am going to try bringing this down to their level. Thanks for the ideas!

    • MsJordanReads July 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

      Hey, Kathy! Hope you’re having a great summer! I would love to hear how the Fluency Boot Camp worked out with your Kindergarteners. I’ve never used it with that grade level, since I teach grades 2-5, but I have many blog followers who would love to hear how you modified it! Please share if you’re willing and you have a few moments this summer. 🙂


  15. Amy June 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Thank you so much for all these wonderful ideas! I am so excited to start this fall with my own fluency boot camp! Thanks again!

    • MsJordanReads July 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

      Thank you for your comment, Amy! I’d love to hear how the Fluency Boot Camp works out in your classroom, so please stop by next fall and let us know! Enjoy the rest of your summer! 🙂


  16. margaret July 15, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    I just read your blog for the first time. I’m a California 4th grade general ed teacher, and I can’t wait to try your fluency ideas. You have an amazing gift! I am now a new follower!

    • MsJordanReads July 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

      Thank you so much, Margaret! I appreciate you stopping by and checking out my resources. Would love to hear how the fluency ideas work out in your classroom. Please come back and let us know! 🙂 Have a great rest of the summer.


  17. Paulette Cable July 23, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    This was an amazing source of information. I have hunted for a fluency site for a long time. You filled in many gaps for me. Thank you soooo much. I am going to pass this on to others. Can’t wait to use it.

    • MsJordanReads July 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing my blog with others! I appreciate your support and hope to share lots more this summer. Fluency is always a challenge to teach, so I truly enjoy sharing resources that could be helpful to others. Enjoy the rest of your summer!


  18. Katherine September 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    What a great resource! I already do much of this, but you have made my work so much easier and expanded my resources. I tutor through a Wilson based program called the Augustine Project. Thank you.

  19. Bridget October 19, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    This website is excellent! Exactly what I was looking for.

  20. Amanda April 13, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    This is fantastic! I teach special ed and have some boys who are just going to love this! I can’t wait to get started. I hope they are as excited as I am!

    • MsJordanReads April 13, 2015 at 7:07 pm #

      Thanks, Amanda! I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine do. I would love to hear how it goes! 🙂


  21. Chris May 2, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    Very interesting!!! I’m teaching summer school again this year (after taking a few years off). I think this is just the thing to use to help the students continue their skill advancement while shaking it up a bit. In other words, I don’t want their summer school session to simply be a repeat of Aug – May. It will look different, probably feel different, but still hit the very important needed skill focus.

  22. Audrey October 21, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    Would it be possible to modify your explanation of what fluency is so that I can put it in my parent newsletter? I would like to share this resource with the parents and have the information fit on a 1/2 page slot in my newsletter. Thanks for any help you can give!

    • MsJordanReads October 21, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

      Audrey — I’m not clear about what you need modified or what changes you’re looking for. Do you just need a more concise definition? Please email me at msjordanreads@gmail.com. Thanks! 🙂

      • Audrey October 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

        Just sent you an email, Thanks for any help you can give

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