The Mysterious Case of Fluency


Reading Fluency

Jillian Induni

Rationale: Students must become fluent readers in order to read faster, smoother, and with more expression. This lesson helps students learn to read quickly, smoothly, and expressively through teacher modeling and guided repeated readings. By gaining these tasks, students will be fluent readers. Fluency refers to a student's ability to read words accurately and automatically.


·   Chart paper with "The cat ran up a tree" written on it.

·   Enough sentence sheets for each pair of students-The stop sign is bright red. We went to the store to buy some new clothes. I like to play on the slides at the park.

·   The Missing Birthday Party, written by Joanne Rocklin, illustrated by John Speirs, published in 1996. Enough copies of this book for each pair of students.

·   A copy of the literacy formula for each pair of students, number of words x 60/seconds-this will be the way the teacher assesses the student's reading fluency rate.

·   Cover-up critter (Popsicle stick with googley eyes)-this cover-up critter will be used to assist the students in decoding if they come across an unknown word.

·   A stopwatch for each pair of students, this will be used for timing the students reading.  

·   Birthday cake reading tool: Each student will receive a birthday cake cut-out and some candle cut-outs (15 per student). Students will add a candle to their cake for every 10 words they get correct. 


1. Explain what fluency is and why it is so important for readers: "Boys and girls, today we are going to be working on fluency. Fluency is when you can read quickly, without stopping to sound out each word. You can make more sense of a text when you read it fluently because you don't have to try so hard to sound out the words. Today we are going to work on our fluency by practicing with sentences and reading a text multiple times."

2. Model fluent reading. On a large chart paper, write out the phrase: The fish jumped out of the water. "Okay students, first I am going to read this sentence without fluency. Ttthe ffffiiiiissshhhh jjjjuuuummmmpppeeeddd ooouuuttt ooofff ttthhheee wwwaaatttteeerrrr. Now I will read the sentence as a fluent reader. The fish jumped out of the water. Did you all hear the difference between reading without and with fluency? Listen to me read it one more time. The fish jumped out of the water. This time, I read it faster and with more expression because the words are familiar to me. Because I practiced the sentence twice, I was able to read it fluently the third time."

3. Practice sentences with a partner. "Now I am going to pass out some sentences to you and your partner." Partners are pre-assigned according to seating arrangement. "The first two times whisper read the sentences to yourself, covering up or cross-checking if you need to. The third time, read your sentence out loud to your partner." I will walk around and monitor students' reading as the practice. "See how your reading improved when you practiced the sentence first?"

4. Explain how to work on fluent reading with a book. "In just a few minutes we are going to work on improving our fluency with the book The Missing Birthday Party. It's okay if you don't recognize a word in the book; you can use one of our tools to help you out. Remember to cross-check by re-reading a sentence if a word in that sentence doesn't make sense, and cover up the word to make it easier to sound out. The cover-up critter will assist you in sounding out the words. I am reading a book and I read, The dog is dugging.  I know that dugging isn't correct because dugging isn't a word, so I'm going to use my cover-up critter to help sound out the word that I don't know. I start with the short vowel /u/ and then move onto the other letters in the word. You can also use context, dugging doesn't make any sense so I automatically think that I meant to say digging instead. I will give you all instructions on how to read with your partner." Before I give step 5 instructions, I will give the book talk. In the book Pauline comes to her neighbor's house in search of her friend Nick's birthday party. She ends up having trouble finding the house because her new hamster has chewed a hole through her invitation right where the address was located. What will Pauline and her friends ever find the missing birthday party?"

5. Repeated reading with chapter book. "Okay boys and girls, we are now going to read the book The Missing Birthday Party. Get with your partner please. One of you will be in charge of the stopwatch and one of you will read, and then you will switch. For the student who is reading, whisper read the book to yourself. When you're finished, your partner will tell you what your time was. At this point, plug your time into your formula (number of words x 60/seconds). You will do this three times. For the student who is timing, time how long it takes your partner to read the book. After each of you read, count the time your partner read and mark the numbers on your birthday cake. Then switch roles and repeat three times again."

6. Assessment: After the students finish their timed readings with a partner, I will have them come to me individually and have them do one more timed reading for me. While they are reading, I will assess if the students are reading fluidly and with expression- changing their voice for different types of sentences, using different tones. As I am assessing, the other students will read quietly at their desks.


Lindsay Jones. Practicing Fluency with Miss French.

Birthday candles-

Birthday cake cut-out-

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