Racing into Fluency

Wendy Counts

Growing Independence and Fluency

Rationale: For students to be fluent readers they must read quickly, automatically, and expressively. Not only should students read with speed, ease, and expression, but they should also be able to comprehend what they are reading. One way to increase fluency is through repeated readings. Reading a passage of text multiple times allows students to become more fluent readers. In this lesson, students will gain fluency through repeated readings.

Materials: One piece of cardstock with the sentence "The hare zoomed along the road to win the race." for each group, a stopwatch for each group, one copy of "The Tortoise and the Hare" for each group, a racing guide with a tortoise and a hare racing on it in which the student wishes to be the hare will be given to each group. The tortoise will be ahead each reading until the desired fluency time is reached (then the race will be won), and one copy of Is Jo Home? Each group will need a calculator.


1.      Explain to students what being a fluent reader means. Say "It is very important that we all become fluent readers. To be a fluent reader, you must read with speed and it should be easy to read the words. A fluent reader also understands what they are reading. When we are fluent readers our reading sounds smoother and better. It also lets us enjoy what we are reading because it is easier to read and we understand what we are reading."

2.      Demonstrate a fluent reader and a non-fluent reader. Say "To review what it means to be a fluent reader and non-fluent reader I am going to read a page from the book Is Jo Home? I hhhhhhooope Jjjjjoooo is hhhooome. Shhhhee wwwwilll ppplllaaaay wwwithhh mmmeeee. (Read one sentence from the book) (The first time read the sentence very slowly, choppy and without expression.) That is what a beginning reader sounds like. They read very slow, choppy and without expression. Now I am going to read the same page from Is Jo Home? I hope Jo is home. She will play with me. (This time read the text faster, with ease, and with expression.) That is what a fluent reader sounds like. They read the text quickly, smoothly, and with expression. Our goal is for everyone to be a fluent reader."

3.      Explain to the students that they are going to be doing repeated readings. Say "To make you a better reader, and a more fluent reader, we are going to do repeated readings. I am going to put you with a partner and you are going to take turns reading. I am going to give each group a sentence on a piece of paper. I want each of you to read the sentence out loud to your partner. The first time you make be a little slow and the words may not flow smoothly, but that's okay because you are going to read the sentence four more times to your partner. By the end, you will be reading the sentence more fluently because you are familiar with the words in the sentence and the words will make more sense." Pass out the piece of cardstock with the sentence on it to each group. "The hare zoomed along the road to win the race."

4.      Explain to the students that they are going to be doing timed readings. Say " Now we are going to do a timed reading. Each group is going to be reading the book The Tortoise and the Hare. The tortoise and the hare are always racing one another, and I want you to race yourself to get the best reading you can. The Hare is very quick, but the tortoise is very tricky. You can be whatever character you want to be. You'll have to read the story to find out who will win the race. (Pass to each group a copy of The Tortoise and the Hare, a stopwatch to each group, and the fluency racing board to each group.) While one person is reading, their partner will be timing them. The reader should read as well as they can. If you come to a tricky word, remember to use your cover up critter and do the best you can. The reader will read all the way through the story. When the story is finished you will record the amount of time it took to read the story. Now the partner will have a turn, and the other student will do the same thing the last student did. Using the calculator you will divide the number given (I will multiply the number of words in the book by 60 for them) by seconds it took to read the book. You will put your rabbits and tortoises where they go on the chart in the place that corresponds with the number you came up with. You will repeat this step until you reach the goal, which has a finish line. I will be walking around the room. If you need help just raise your hand."

Assessment: After everyone finishes their timed readings and reaches their goals, I will walk around the room and look at everyone's fluency racing chart to see how the student's fluency progressed. I will then take each student individually and do the same reading with The Tortoise and the Hare. This will give me a chance to listen to each student's reading and check for speed, ease, and expression.


Adams, Jennifer. Off to the Races!

Clabby, Caitlin. Ready…Set…Go!

Cole, Emily. "Hopping into Fluency"

Stevens, Janet. The Tortoise and the Hare. Reading Rainbow Books, 1985.

Phonics Readers-Long Vowels: Is Jo Home? Educational Insights, 1990.

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