"Itching" to Read More Fluently!

Growing Independence & Fluency

By: Heather Tingas



    Beginning readers are able to use their decoding skills to read words in a text, they are often unable to comprehend what they have read because so much effort is being spent on decoding the words. In order for comprehension to be achieved, students must learn to read fluently, accurately, automatically, and rapidly. Building fluency is incredibly important, as it not only boosts a student's confidence in his or her reading ability, but also helps students achieve the main goal of reading instruction--comprehension. This lesson will help students learn to read more fluently through utilizing one-minute reads of repeated readings, as the more a student rereads a passage, the more fluently he or she will read it. 



One poster each for each of the following sentences: (1) I have an itch on my hand. (2) I have red spots on my stomach. (3) I wish I did not have an itch. (4) I do not want to be sick!

Copy of Sam's trip to the Doc for each pair of students

One-minute sand timer for each pair or students

Extra time sheet to write down the number of words

Small red circle stickers for each student (at least 60 per student)

Blank sheet of paper for each student

Sheet of primary paper for each student

Pencil for each student

Crayons for each student

Example of time sheet:


Partners name:


 Number of words:

1st time ______

2nd times_____

3rd time ______


    1.Explain to the students why reading with fluency is so important: "When we read books, we want to be able to understand what we are reading. If we read the words in a book slowly with a lot of spaces between the words, it will be very difficult to remember the things we read about. If we read quickly, though, we can understand what we are reading much more easily. A good way for us to help our reading get faster is to practice by reading the same book over and over again. Each time we reread something, it gets easier and easier, so our reading becomes faster, and when we are reading more quickly, we will do a better job at understanding what we are reading.

   2.Tell the students: "Let me show you how rereading something helps us to become faster readers. (Read the sentence off of the poster very slowly and with separations between some of the words.) I h-h-ha-v-v have… aaannn i-i-itch… onnn mmmy h-h-ha-han-hand. Did that sentence make sense to you? Why not? (Wait for response.) That sentence did not make much sense to me because I read it so slowly. If we read quickly, though, we can understand what we are reading much more easily. (Read the sentence again, a little more fluently this time.) I hhhaaavvve an iiitch on mmmy hhaannd. Wasn't that a little easier to understand? I think so! I bet if I read the sentence one more time it will be even better! Let me see. (Read the sentence again, with complete fluency.) I have an itch on my hand. Wow! I think that was the best time yet. It was a lot easier to read that time and I could really understand what I was reading!"

   3.Hold up the posters with the 4 sentences on them. Tell the students: "Let's practice a little bit together. We will read the sentences 3 times." (1) I have red spots on my back. (2) I wish I did not have an itch. (3) I do not want to be sick!)

    4.Tell the students: "Some things that are very important to remember when we are trying to read words quickly we are using our decoding strategies. When you come to a new or difficult word, don't forget to use cross-checking or cover-ups. First take a guess at the word and read to the end of the sentence to see if it makes sense. If it doesn't make sense, use your finger to cover-up the letters so it is easier to read. When you are reading with your partner, you can use these strategies to help you. It would be a good idea to remind each other of these as you are listening to your partner."

     5.Tell the students: "Now it is your turn to become faster readers! (Put students in pairs and pass out one copy of Sam's Trip to the Doc and a one-minute sand timer to each group. Pass out fluency chart and red stickers to each individual student.) You and your partner are going to take turns reading and rereading Sam's Trip to the Doc. This story is about a little boy who has a terrible itch and he doesn't know why, so his parents have to take him to the doctor! Have you ever had something wrong with you and had to go to the doctor? What do you think is wrong with Sam? You will have to read the book with your partner to find out! What I would like for you to do is take turns with your partner. First, one of you will read the story as quickly as you can while your partner times you. You will get to do this two more times, with your partner timing you each time. The first time you read, you will put red spots on the first "Sam". Count how many words you read. The more words you read, the more red spots you get to put on him! Each spot is worth five words, so count by fives to see how many spots you need to put on him. Raise your hand if you need help figuring out how many spots to put on Sam! Make sure you also write the number of words you read on the blank below each Sam. The second time you read, you will put your spots on the second Sam, and the third time, on the third Sam. After one partner reads three times, you will need to switch, and the partner who just finished reading will be the timer. (Walk around while students are reading to monitor their progress and help with the placement of the spots.)"

   6.After the students have completed the repeated readings with their partners, pass out a blank sheet of paper and a sheet of primary paper to each student. Have them write a sentence about something from the story and draw a picture to illustrate the sentence. This, along with each student's fluency chart with the spots, will be used to evaluate their progress, checking to see that the student's number of words per minute improved with each reading of the story and that the student was able to comprehend what he or she read.



    Hopkins, Ivy. Spooky fluency. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from:

    Lewis, Heather. Sam's trip to the doc. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from:

http:// www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/persp/hopkinsgf.html


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