Let me begin with this very clear point: fluency is MORE than just reading fast. It is so much more. The rate of reading (words read correctly per minute) is only ONE MEASURE of fluency. So whenever I address the concept of fluent reading with my students, I am careful to stress that they always do their best reading and that their oral reading should be comfortable, much like having a conversation with the text. It's not a race; it's not about speed.
For our struggling readers, though, reading with accuracy, at a smooth, comfortable rate is a huge hurdle. For students with dyslexia, or similar disorders, it is important to provide a visual representation of their progress. Not only does it help them better conceptualize their reading, but it also gives them a significant visualization of their successes. This is so important; I cannot stress it enough.
Struggling readers need to see evidence of success, even in the smallest form. Oftentimes, their performance on classroom assessments is discouraging. These readers are still developing foundational reading skills; they are still developing as fluent readers, and the comprehension tasks required on most assessments is beyond their present ability. For this reason, they are often discouraged with their reading performance. When you can help them see their progress, it is paramount to their continued sense of motivation.
That's why these graphs are important -Not because we are stressing speed-reading, but because we are highlighting progress.
My graphs are very simple in design and include the basic elements for progress monitoring: student name, dates, space to document words read correctly per minute (in the form of a bar graph), a "notes" section (to be used as needed), and a space for the student to document their own goal for fluency.
Your student can further personalize this graph by creating bars of different colors for each data point. You can help them set their goal, based on requirements for your district/state, or you can let them decide on a number entirely on their own. Depending on the age of the reader and their number-sense, they may or may not be able to set a reasonable goal. Sometimes, I wait until they have read for me several times and developed a better understanding of how this graph works before I even mention the idea of setting a goal. This depends very much on the development and needs of each reader.
The important part, here, is that the student sets an overarching goal to see improvement in their reading fluency. Sometimes it's enough to just watch those bars get taller. As they do, please, please, PLEASE celebrate that success with your student. Confidence is crucial to continued growth.
If you are interested in using this fluency graph with your students, you can grab it for free in the Tally Tales TPT store here.
There are two versions of this graph available. One has a pre-established range and scale for words read correctly per minute. The other is blank, so you can write in different numbers as needed. I hope you will find these graphs to be easily adaptable and effective for your reading instruction!