Running the Bases for More Fluent Reading!
Lesson Design for Growing Independence and Fluency

by Cassie Keith


Rationale:  Comprehension is an important part of learning to read.  Beginning readers can spend so much of their effort trying to decode the words, that they do not spend much time comprehending what they read.  These readers need to learn fluency, which is the ability to recognize words accurately and automatically. Fluent readers use less of their time decoding, leaving more time to comprehension. This lesson will help students become more fluent through repeated readings of text.  Students will be working with partners to help them learn different decoding strategies from their peers and to get more time to read.  

Sheet with Baseball Diamond-copy for each student
class set of Lee and the Team (Educational Insights)
sentence strips with a few decodable sentences: James ate some toast for a snack.  The cat jumped in the air.  The girl ran home in the rain.


1. Introduce the lesson by reviewing the self-help strategy of cross-checking. "Sometimes when we read a sentence, we might read a word wrong.  When we do this, sometimes the sentence no longer makes sense.  Listen to this sentence:  'I wanted to take a nap in my bead.'  Does that make sense? No.  It should say 'I wanted to take a nap in my bed.' Sometimes after we read we have to look at the whole sentence to make sure that it makes sense.

2. "Today we are going to work on learning to read faster.  Sometimes when I read a sentence once, I don't understand what I read or I read it really slowly.  Today we are going to practice reading one book a few times to see if we can get faster." Take the first sentence strip and model reading it slowly, then a little faster and smoother, then faster with expression.  "The first time that I read this sentence, it might sound like this 'J-a-me-s a-te s-o-me t-oa-st for a sn-a-ck.'  If I read it again it might sound smoother, like this 'James ate some toa-st for a sn-ack.'  And if I read it again it might sound faster and I would have expression, like this 'James ate some toast for a snack.' Do you hear the difference? That is what we will be doing today."

3. Pair each student up with a partner.  Put the other two sentence strips up on the board.  "I want you and your partner to take turns reading these sentences to each other. Make sure that you read all of the words correctly. Each of you should say the sentence three times each.  Try to say the sentences faster and smoother each time."

4. Give each student a copy of Lee and the Team.  Give them a book talk for it.  "Lee is on a baseball team. He cannot get his teammates to go run anywhere. They would
rather sit in the weeds. How will he get them to the game? Read the story to find out what happens."

5. Ask them to spread out and read the book to themselves.  "I want you to read the book one time. When you are finished, close your book and put it in front of you so that I will know when everyone is ready to move on. Sit quietly until everyone is finished."

6. "Now go sit back with your partner.  I will give each of you a sheet like this (hold up one of the sheets with the baseball diamond on it) and a pencil.  I want you to take turns reading the book out loud to each other for one minute.  I will time you.  The person who is not reading will be filling out your baseball diamond sheet for you, so the first thing that I want you to do is to write your name on the pitcher's mound.  When you are filling out your partners sheet, you will start them out on first base because they already read the book once.  The next time that they read you will write down how many words they read that minute on the base, and then will use the checklist to check if you read faster, smoother, or with more expression.  You should each read three times.  When you get done, your diamond should look like this (show an example)."

7. Assess the students by observing each pair as they read to each other.  Make sure that they are doing everything correctly and listen carefully to them as they read.  Have the students turn in their baseball sheets so that you can see if they are improving through this activity. Have each student read one of the sentence strips that they practiced with earlier to you so that you can see if they got faster, smoother, or more expressive through this lesson. Allow students more time to practice reading silently.


Eldredge, J. Lloyd. Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1995. pp. 122-145.

Dean, Lindsay. "Hit a Homerun with Reading Speed"

Cushman, Sheila and Rona Kornblum. (1990). Lee and the Team. Carson, CA: Educational Insights   


After 2nd reading:                                     After third reading:

faster                                                          faster

smoother                                                    smoother

more expression                                         more expression

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