Let's Go Fishing For Fluency!

Growing Independence in Fluency

Marybeth Miller


Rationale: It is important that students read fluently. Reading fluently means to recognize words quickly, automatically, and with expression.  In this lesson, students will focus on using expression while they read. In order to use expression while students read, they must focus on clue words and punctuation that tells the mood of the story. Students will practice using expression through repeated readings. Through this, students will familiarize themselves with the story, in turn, building their fluency level. 

Materials: Sentence strips, dry erase board and marker, a copy of Tuck Dam for each student, checklist for buddy reading (attached), comprehension question worksheet (attached), projector, pencils or other writing utensils for each student.


1. Say: Let's think back to when we were learning decoding skills to help us read. What if I was reading a sentence in a story and could not figure out the word? What should I do first to help me figure out the word? (Allow students to think and respond) I would crosscheck, which means I would read the rest of the sentence for help and see what might make sense in the place where I was having trouble. For example, say I came across a sentence: (write the following sentence on the white board): Max looks for his ball under his bed. Now I'm going to read it aloud and model how I would crosscheck. "Max looks for his ball uuuddeerr, umm, ooddeerr, I'm struggling with this word, let me read the rest of the sentence for help, his bed. Oh I know that word is under, Max looks for his ball under his bed."    

2. Say: Awesome job crosschecking! Today we are going to focus on using expression while we read. This is similar to how we talk. How do you express yourself when you talk? (Allow time for students to answer) Can you tell if someone is happy, sad, or mad by the way they talk? (Allow time for students to answer). Let's think about punctuation. What does a question mark or exclamation mark tell us to do with our voice? (Allow time to answer). Exclamation marks tell us to yell or raise our voice and question marks tell us to emphasis words and make our voice go up. Punctuations act as clues while we read to know how we are supposed to express ourselves. Also, words act as clues to tell us what kind of voice we should use to read a sentence.

3. Say: Now let's practice recognizing people's feelings when they talk. If I read this sentence (have written on sentence strip and post on white board): "My puppy ran away." I think I should say this sentence with a sad voice because if my puppy ran away, I would be sad. (Say sentence with a sad voice.) What if I read this sentence (have written on sentence strip and post on white board): "The zoo was fun!" Would I say this with a sad voice, a happy voice, or a mad voice? (Allow time for students to answer). I think it would be happy because there is an exclamation mark which shows excitement.

     4. Say: Not only is expression important while reading but so is reading at the right speed. For example, what if I read like this: "I took my dog to the park." (Read the sentence really fast) What is wrong with reading in that way? That's right! I read the sentence too fast. What if I read it like this?: "I took my dog to the park." (Read the sentence slowly.) What is wrong with reading in that way? That's right! I read the sentence way too slow. How about this?: "I took my do to the park." (Read at the right speed). Does that sound better than the other ways I read? Reading at the right speed is important so that you and listeners can understand the story better. Let's practice reading some sentences together at the right speed. (Have the following sentences on a sentence strip and place on the board) "I like to play with my ball." Good reading! Let's try another: "I like to eat cake!" Good job!

5. Say: "Today we are going to read Tuck Dam. This story is about two children who are trying to figure out something fun to do for the day. They decide they want to go to Tuck Dam because there is a lot to do there. They decide to take their van, but it must be cleaned first. They packed the van and headed to Tuck Dam. It was a bumpy ride and lost a hub cap that a nice man picked up and brought to them. Then all of a sudden, smoke started coming from the van. Do you think that they will ever make it to Tuck Dam? Let's read and find out!"  Give each student a copy of Tuck Dam. Say: I am going to divide you into partners. You are going to take turns alternating reading a page of Tuck Dam. Make sure you practice reading with expression because after reading the whole book, you are going to perform reading the first chapter called Go to Tuck Dam for your partner. We are going to help each other out and tell each other where we need to improve by using a checklist. When you and your partner are finished reading the book, come get a buddy checklist from me and a comprehension worksheet. Before we start reading and pairing up, let's go over the checklist together (project it on the projector, read over it, and explain it). Partner students and allow them to read to each other. Express that they still need to use their inside voices so that they are not a distraction to other groups.

6. When students come to get the checklist and comprehension worksheet say: Before you begin reading, I want each member of the group to read the checklist. Then, one person of the group needs to go first and read the first chapter only. While one partner is reading, the other partner should be listening for expression. After the partner who is reading is done, the other partner need to answer the questions on the checklist. Each of you will read and fill out a checklist for your partner. Once both partners are finished reading and your checklists are completely filled out, quietly start working on your comprehension worksheet. One at a time I will come to your desk and have you read a page to me.   


     7. While students are waiting to read to the teacher or have already read and waiting for the next activity, have students complete the worksheet attached called Comprehension Questions.


     8. Assessment: Take up the checklists and see where students need further practice. This will give the teacher an understanding of areas students excelled in and what areas they still need to work on. When students read to the teacher it would be beneficial if the teacher uses a classroom checklist noting whether students did weak, fair, or excellent. The worksheet entitled comprehension questions can also be assessed to see whether students are struggling comprehending the story. 



Adams, Matt. Tuck Dam. High Noon Books: Novato, CA (2002).

Bryne, Mary Haley. "Express Yourself."





Expression Checklist

Your Name _____________________________________

Partner's Name __________________________________




My partner's voice changed as he or

she read the story                                                 Yes                      No




My partner seemed to enjoy
reading the book                                                  Yes                      No




I enjoyed listening to Tuck Dam being                   Yes                      No



My partner sounded just like
the character must have felt                                    Yes                       No

Comprehension Questions for Tuck Dam:


1.     What is one thing that can be done for fun at Tuck Dam?


2.         2. What did Pam and Ben have to do before they left for Tuck Dam?



3.     What did Pam and Ben pack in their van for their Dad?


4.         4. What popped off of the van on their way to Tuck Dam?



5.     Why did fog come out of the van?



            6. What did Pam and Ben's dad do while they ran down the hills?









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