Go for the Goal!

Growing Independence and Fluency

By: Sarah Leslie Smith

Rationale: Fluent reading is reading in which words are recognized automatically. Fluent reading is essential. Readers learn to read faster, and with fewer pauses. Automatic word recognition brings about smoother and better reading. Students also learn how to read with expression. Once fluency is mastered, students can try reading silently. The best and most direct approach to improving fluency involves modeling and practice with repeated reading under time pressure. When students repeatedly read, they read a book until they become fluent reading the book. In this lesson, the students will practice fluency using repeated reading and recording their progress.


*Student copies of Uncle Elephant (Arnold Lobel- An I Can Read Book)

*Word Count sheet for each student

*Reading Evaluation Checklist for each student


*Fluency chart for each student (This will be a football field with a moveable paper football. Numbers that indicate the number of words read in a minute will be placed on the yard lines. Each time the child reads the text, they will move their football to the appropriate yard line. The end goal is the end zone. This will help to visually show the students their progress. These charts will be kept and used in future fluency lessons. Students can take their fluency charts home for further practice


Word Count Sheet

Name: _________________ Date: ________________

The first time I read ___________ words. Time__________

The second time I read __________ words. Time______________

The third time I read _________ words. Time___________

Total # of words________ Total Time______________

Reading Evaluation

Name: _______________

Date: _________

Evaluator: _______________

My partner………(check the circles)

After 2nd time After 3rd time

Read faster O O

Read more smoothly O O

Read with expression O O

Read the most words O O


1. Today we are going learn to read faster and smoother. Reading faster and smoother makes us fluent readers. I will show you how by reading a bit of the great book Uncle Elephant. Read the first sentence of very slowly and without expression. Tell children that that was to slow and choppy. I should try again. Read it again, this time faster and with a little expression. Tell students that that sounded better, but I can make it even better the 3rd time. Reread the sentence using speed, fluency, and expression. Explain to students what I did. I read fast, using lots of expression. Show them once again how to read the sentence fluently. Tell students that a fluent reader sounds like this. Which type of reading sounds the best?

2.  Explain to the students what they are going to be doing by saying, “Today we are going to work on reading using speed, fluency, and expression, just like I did. We are going to have to practice a lot to get good so we will try reading Uncle Elephant 3 times. Each time that we read it, we will become more familiar with the words and the word will become more automatic. This will help us to read more fluently.”

3. Divide the class into partners. Give each pair of students a copy of Uncle Elephant and two speed record sheets and reading evaluation rubric for each partner.

 4. Give the students directions. In this activity each of you will have the job of being the reader and the listener. One partner will get a chance to read as fast as they can without missing words. The other partner gets to keep time using the timer. After the reader reads 5 pages, you will switch places. You will repeat task this until each of you have read the book 3 times. Each time you read you will start where you left off and read 5 pages. Check your time at the end of 5 pages. Be sure to record how long it took you to read 5 pages. Your partner can help you record the information. Count the words every time you read and record the time it took to read all the words on those 5 pages. After each of you have read the book three times, you will need to fill out the reading evaluation for you partner. Make sure you fill out the chart with your names and all the information, because I will be taking them up.

5.  Give a book talk about Uncle Elephant, “The little elephant has a mommy and daddy who went on a sail in their boat. Little elephant didn’t go with his parents. There was a bad storm in the night and the mommy and daddy elephant were lost at sea. Let’s read to find out what will happen to little elephant.”

6. Give each student a football and a field with numbers marked. Explain how they are to use them. Today you get to graph your reading fluency with these football fields. You show where you started reading the first time on the field with your football, and then you show your progression throughout the extra readings. I hope that everyone's fluency improved and everyone read more words per minute each time.

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 is on their charts and then ask them to turn them in to me. They will be dated so that we can chart further progress. I will display the charts in the room or send them home to encourage fluency practice at home.


Assess the Word Count Sheet and the Reading Evaluation Rubric. On the Word Count Sheet, check for progression. These numbers should have increased with each time. On the Reading Evaluation Rubric, each student should have accomplished each of the goals on the rubric be the 3rd reading.


Murray, Dr. Bruce. Developing Reading Fluency: http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/fluency.html

Lobel, Arnold. Uncle Elephant. An I Can Read Book. Scholastic. 1981.

Adams, Marilyn. Beginning to Read