CrowdED Learning Topic Three, Week 1: Fluency Resource Exploration


For the next two weeks our discussion with Jeff Goumas will focus on fluency.  The three dimensions of fluency are accuracy, rate, and prosody.  In other words, students need skills to read text correctly, at an appropriate speed, and with appropriate expression, intonation, and rhythm. During week 1 of fluency Jeff will introduce us to fluency resources, and during week two we will engage with strategies for fluency instruction.

While we are moving on with our discussion, please continue to explore the resources in CrowdED Learning and participate in our previous discussion of comprehension.

Good Morning Jeff!  Please tell us about the fluency resources available in CrowdED Learning.


Thank you, Jeri!

For the next two weeks, we will be exploring resources and discussion strategies for developing learners’ fluency skills. I'm particularly excited about this exploration because we get the opportunity to announce and share details about an update to Reading Skills for Today’s Adults, a widely used leveled library of readings that are designed specifically to help adult readers develop their fluency skills!

This video overview includes an overview of the topic (up to 03:52), followed by an interview with Kristine Kelly, who helped lead the recent update to Reading Skills for Today’s Adults! You definitely will want to take time to watch the interview, as she shares information about both the existing tools and new resources of which I wasn’t even aware. In particular, at 06:00 she explains the differences amongst the three audio recordings of the the story, and at 08:50 she provides a detailed overview of the new supplement they've created for each story!

The following tools will also help you with this week’s resource exploration: 

  • Google Doc Overview | This document includes much of the same information as this post, but can be downloaded to your Google Drive so you can capture information as you explore the resources. 

  • Fluency Research and Teaching Strategies | LINCS offers this great overview from CALPRO on research and teaching strategies for building fluency in adult learners. This resource provides guidance on how to ensure students are placed that the appropriate level.

Resource Exploration Overview

The resources we will explore as part of this topic are all freely available and include expansive libraries of high-interest readings at multiple levels. While the resources we explored last week also included libraries of texts at different levels, we are focusing specifically on these resources because they are specifically designed to help adult readers build fluency. 

  • Reading Skills for Today’s Adults | (CC-BY-NC-SA) From Southwest Minnesota ABE, this leveled library includes nearly 350 readings ranging from Lexile level 200-300 / ATOS 1.1 / GLE K to Lexile level 1100-1200 / ATOS 9.6 / GLE 8. The library includes a wide range of topics, including safety, parenting, work, money, health, and more. Each text includes three audio recordings different speeds, along with pre-reading questions and vocabulary and post-reading comprehension questions. The newly updated series also has a supplement that includes a series of additional vocabulary, grammar, speaking, and comprehension practice activities for every reading. Please note the updated library has a new URL!!! At present, if you Google “Reading Skills for Today’s Adults”, the old site (Marshall Adult Education) is what will appear at the top of your search. The updated URL is 

  • Reading Skills for Health Care Workers | Also from Southwest Minnesota ABE, this leveled library includes a number of features similar to those in RSTA. The 175 readings are at intermediate levels (between GLE 5.5 and 8.5) and are all contextualized to health care scenarios and focus on academic and content vocabulary. 

  • ELC Study Zone | (CC-BY-NC-SA) From the University of Victoria (Canada), the English Learning Centre Study Zone is designed specifically for English language learners. While this resource does not include all the same tools as the previous two resources, the content is organized by ESL level and includes readings with audio recordings, comprehension questions,  and vocabulary exercises. 

Fluency Strategies 

Fluency is one of the four core components of Evidence-Based Reading Instruction. Whereas alphabetics focuses on recognition of letter and letter-combination sounds needed  to decode words, fluency focuses on learners’ ability to fluently decode series of words within a text. 

In particular, fluency refers to a reader’s ability to read a series of words, or a text, at an appropriate speed, and with appropriate expression, intonation, and rhythm. 

When developing fluency, it is critical learners work with texts that are easy to read for the student, as opposed to texts that might prove challenging to the student. fortunately, the College & Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (p. 21) provide guidance on what level of complexity is appropriate for each level within the standards.  

Discussion Questions

Use these questions to organize your thoughts before posting and to guide your exploration of this week’s resources. 

  • How do you determine what is an appropriate level of text for students before providing opportunity to develop fluency?

  • How do you currently provide learners with opportunities to practice fluency? What resources do you use for doing so, and what features of that resource(s) make it particularly useful?

  • Examine at least one of the resources featured this week. What features are included that you believe might make that resource helpful for developing your learners’ fluency skills? 

Hi, Jeff. Thanks for asking.   Fluency is an often-ignored skill in reading development. Most instructors interpret fluency as a reading-speed issue. Speed has nothing to do with fluency, in my opinion.   I would suggest that levels also have no influence on when to begin fluency development. On the other hand, comprehension, vocabulary, punctuation issues, and familiarity with/interest in the topic strongly influence fluency among readers.    I like modeling fluency as a strategy, either by instructors or peer readers among fluent readers. Practices that involve oral recitation and reader's theaters can help. There are many technology sites designed to improve fluency. Many sites provide options for listening to a competent reader read a passage. Even having students record their readings on online sites and listening to what they said can enhance fluency. This is an issue that is very integrated into reading and reading assessment.    I hope that others here will add not only their thoughts but their suggested resources in addition to CrowED in this regard. Great topic! Leecy 

Hi Leecy and all, As you note, Leecy, having learners record themselves reading aloud can be an effective strategy. They can do so using their phones and then send the recording to the teacher for feedback. 

You mention Readers Theater as a strategy for developing fluency. There are some sites with scripts for Readers Theater, but they tend to be designed for working with children. I think we could find useful texts for Readers Theater from the sites featured in this thread. It would be great to hear from teachers who have used Readers Theater.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Leanring CoP

Hi Susan,

One place I've seen Readers Theater is in the materials for WordGen, SciGen, and SoGen. It lesson is introduced with Readers Theater using the vocabulary words from the lesson. It usually comes in the form of a discussion among young people. The resources are design to include compelling topics in meaningful academic language development work. They are designed for middle-school, but the content/level seems right for many ABE/HSE classes. The materials are interesting, well-designed, and free. You do need to create a free login in order to access them.


Hi Jeff,

All the materials are free, but you have to register for a login to access them, so I can't link to them here. Once you have a login, you can download everything from one place (including SERP's math materials). They do have sample science and social studies units to see what they look like without registering.


Hello colleagues, Thanks, Eric, for mentioning the SERP materials. These are really excellent lessons across the board -- not just for fluency, but for reading comprehension, vocabuarly instruction, building content knowledge, etc etc.

I know some teachers -- those who teach English learners - are aware of the We Speak NYC  video lessons. These videos are highly engaging and come with complete lesson plans and student handouts. They have also been adapted for low level learners. Each video has a full script available, and I have used the scripts from these videos for Readers Theater with great success. 

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP

Hi all, 

I used Reader's Theaters with adult learners. Many of the 'fairy tales' we used were based on Grimm's stories, whcih were written for adults. There's a general idea that these stories are well received by adults because they deal with real life issues such as self discovery, loss, personal growth. 

Or, sometimes, they can just be fun for students to remember stories from their youth - and sometimes, they even hear the stories for the first time. Don't give up on using children's stories in the adult classroom. Reader's Theaters are wonderful ways to make this happen.


Kathy Tracey

Hello Kathy and others who are interested in literacy and theater,

In 1994 my colleagues at the Adult Literacy Resource Institute at University of Massachusetts Boston created an adult learner theater project that produced a publication called Setting the Stage For Literacy, An Anthology of Adult Student Scripts.  It included several original dialogues written by HSE class students at Project Place in Boston that took favorite children's folk tales and stories and re-wrote them as dialogues that explored contemporary personal and family counseling issues. These were then re-enacted in performances. I think they would be great for reader's theater.  The scripts included: "The Big Bad Wolf Gets Therapy", "Gretel's Miserable Adventure", "The Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe with Too Many Children",  "The Morning After" (based on Little Red Riding Hood), "To Find a Prince" (based on Cinderella), "Dumbo's Different", and  "Jack Faces the Giant." It also included several other short plays, including  "The Trial of Pandora" in which the Defense opens with, "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Your Honor, during these proceedings I intend to prove two things: 1. The cause of the pain, sorrow and misery in the world is not because of women, Pandora, or for that matter Eve., and 2. Zeus is responsible for any problems plaguing the earth and he should be on trial, not Pandora."

Setting the Stage for Literacy is out of publication but, if you are interested, I could scan some of the scripts and put them in a folder in the Cloud for you. If so, email me at

David J. Rosen


Jeff and Kristine,

Thank you for the very informative overview video!  I used the previous Marshall Adult Education site and found the resources very effective for reading instruction.  However, I love the new site, with the updates!  Honestly, I was not aware of the new site until very recently.  I think that the three audio speeds available are very valuable for teaching fluency.  They begin with a focus on accuracy, then move into appropriate fluency with accuracy, rate, and prosody.  I know instructors will appreciate the supplements, especially the ability to adapt the word documents as necessary.  Adding the activities of language and speaking are greatly appreciated, especially at the lower levels, and the availability of sentence frames is a great support for beginning writers.

In the past, I have used echo reading and repeated reading for fluency instruction.  Less frequently, I used marked phrase boundaries when appropriate.

Thank you again for highlighting this great resource!  I look forward to hearing how others are providing fluency instruction.



I've been sharing Reading Skills for Today's Adults for a number of years now and just thought "the recordings are at different speeds." I wasn't aware they each had a specific modeling purpose. 

For those of you who haven't had a chance to check out the video introducing this week's topic (I know it's a bit long, but it provides a great overview of the RSTA update and all the thinking that has gone into it!), at the 6 minute mark, Kristine Kelly provides details on how the three different audio recordings build learners' fluency skills through scaffolded modeling. 

Love the contributions so far this week! Great ideas and information being shared :)