Writing fluency is the natural flow and organization of a written work. Fluent pieces of writing are easier and more enjoyable to read, as the words are organized in a logical fashion and the overall message of the piece is easier to understand. Teachers can help students in improving their overall fluency by engaging them in a variety of writing improvement activities.
Start at the sentence level to help students tackle fluency issues. Look at single sentences and consider the effectiveness of the sentence structure. For example, when students first start learning to write, they often struggle with subject-verb agreement and syntax or the order of words in a sentence. Discuss each of these elements and practice the creation of effective sentences before trying to develop fluency in a full piece of writing.
Extend the focus to paragraph organization. Fluent paragraphs contain sentences that are organized in a logical fashion, and students must vary the ways in which they start sentences as well as the lengths of the sentences within the paragraph. Transition into discussing paragraph fluency by taking one of the sentences that you studied and asking students to expand upon that sentence by developing it into a full paragraph.
Read students' work aloud, or have them read their work to you, to check the fluency of written work as students work to create fluent pieces of writing. This practice allows them to hear the natural flow of the piece. Ask students to highlight any areas in their essay in which the natural flow is interrupted and consider ways to correct the problem and retain fluency.
Practice often. The more students write, the more adept they'll become at creating fluent pieces of writing. Have students practice their writing regularly to allow them to refine their goals.
Provide immediate feedback. Students learn more effectively if they are given feedback as close to the completion of a task as possible. When students write, review their writing and discuss the fluency problems with them as soon as possible. This ensures that the writing is still fresh in their minds and allows them to internalize the advice that you give them and increases the likelihood that they will use it in the future.
Create student blogs. A new emphasis is being placed on using blogs as a fluency development tool. These digital diaries are a wonderful way for students to practice their writing and increase their fluency. Set up a classroom blog by visiting one of the many free blog sites currently available. Have students compose and post blogs about the class and their learning. Students enjoy using the computer and creating a piece of writing that will be preserved on the web. Blogs are also practical, as the teacher can easily check students' work by logging onto the Internet and perusing the posts.
Visit and update blogs regularly. Keep students actively engaged in the blogging process by incorporating the creation of blogs into your class through the remainder of the year. Regularly set aside time for students to visit the blog, post new additions and comment on their peers' postings. This continued, intensive writing practice will ensure that your students' overall writing fluency continues to improve.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.