Race to Fluency!

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Growing Independence and Fluency
Anne Jones

Rationale: Fluent reading is defined as reading in which words are recognized automatically.  Reading becomes faster, smoother, and more expressive with automatic word recognition. Once this is acquired, students can begin to read silently, which is executed at a rate almost twice as fast as oral reading. The direct approach to improving fluency includes modeling and practice with repeated reading under time pressure. In repeated reading, students continue working with a single text until it is fluent. In this lesson, the students will practice fluency using repeated reading and graphing their progress on a chart.


1. Student copies of Curious George and the Firefighters (Margret and H.A. Rey, 2004)

2. Word Count sheet for each student (see example)

3. Reading Evaluation Form for each student (see example)

4. Timer for each pair of students

5. Progress chart for each student (This will be a race track with a moveable paper jogger. Numbers that indicate the number of words read in a minute will be placed around the track. Each time the student reads the text, he/she will move his/her jogger to the appropriate number. This will help to visually show the student the progress that has been made. These charts will be kept and used in future fluency lessons.)




 1) “Today we are going to practice reading faster and smoother, which is called reading fluently. I am going to show you an example.”  Teacher will read the first sentence of Curious George very slowly.  “How did that sound? My words didn’t flow together very well because I was reading too slow.  Let’s see if I can’t make it sound better.”  Read it again, this time faster and more smoothly with less pause between words.  “Did that sound better?  What did I do differently?  That’s right, I read it faster.  Let’s see if I can do it even better.”  Reread the sentence using speed, fluency, and expression.  “That time, I read the sentence quickly and my words flowed together smoothly. Did you notice how my voice went up and down as I read specific words?  That is called expression.”

 2) Explain to the students what they are going to be doing. “ Today we are going to work on reading using speed, fluency, and expression. To help us do this we are going to the read the same book three times. Each time that we read it, we will become more familiar with the words in the book which will help us read more fluently.”

 3) Divide the class into pairs of 2.  Give each pair of students a copy of Curious George and the Firefighters along with two speed record sheets and reading evaluation rubric for their partner.

 4) Give the students directions. “In this activity, each of you will have the job of being the reader and the listener. One of you will read while the other times the reading with the countdown timer. After the timer goes off you will switch jobs. You will repeat this until each of you have read the book 3 times.  Each time you read, you will start at the beginning of the book and read for one minute. When the timer goes off, make sure to place your finger on the last word that you read.  Your partner will then count how many words that you read and record the number on the word count sheet. Make sure to do this every time you read. After each of you have read the book three times, you will need to fill out the reading evaluation for you partner. Make sure your names are on the word count sheet because I will be taking these up at the end of the activity. ”

5) Give a booktalk about Curious George and the Firefighters. "George and the man with the yellow hat take a trip to the firehouse where George finds all sorts of new things to explore. When one curious monkey meets a company of unsuspecting firefighters, a big adventure follows. Want to know what their adventure includes? Read to find out!" 

6) Give each student a race track and a paper jogger cut out. Explain how they are to use them. “You are going to use these race tracks and the joggers to help monitor your fluency. The numbers that are around the track represent how many words that you are able to read in a minute. After each time you read and count your words, move your race car to that number. Each time that you read, your jogger should move closer to the finish line. At the end of the today’s activity, I will take them up and hold onto them for you.”

 7) Once everyone has finished reading three times and filling out the charts, I will ask the students to be sure their name and date are on their charts and then ask them to turn them in to me.



Speed Record Sheet


Name:________________           Date:__________

          1st time:______

    2nd time:______

    3rd time:______




Fluency Literacy Rubric

Name:____________         Evaluator:____________         Date:___________

I noticed that my partner… (color in the circle)

After 2nd                         After 3rd

O                                    O                        Remembered more words

O                                    O                        Read faster

O                                    O                        Read smoother

O                                    O                        Read with expression



Evaluate the Word Count Sheet and the Reading Evaluation Rubric. On the Word Count Sheet, compare the number of words for each reading. The words/times should be scored using this formula: words x 60 / seconds. These numbers should have increased with each time. On the Reading Evaluation Rubric, each student should have accomplished each of the goals by the 3rd reading.




Murray, Dr. Bruce. Developing Reading Fluency.


Dr. Bruce Murray, Reading Genie


 Self, Jamie. Reading Race.




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