Kim D. Burns
Growing Independence and Fluency

I Have the Need for Speed!!!

Rationale:  Fluent readers read faster, smoother, and more expressively.  The formula that seems to help readers improve their
fluency is to read and reread decodable words in connected text.  The more children work with a piece of text, the more fluent
the text becomes to them.  This lesson will help children learn how to read faster.  They will work on their reading fluency
through repeated readings under time pressure.  By rereading the text, students will learn to master more words per minute.

Materials:  Student copy of Arthur’s Loose Tooth—by: Lillian Hoban for the whole class; football field chart and football
players for each child; two stopwatches; student copy of Arthur’s Pen Pal—by: Lillian Hoban; and fluency rubric (one for
each child) for teacher assessment.
Fluency Rubric

Child’s Name_________________________  Date__________
Book Title___________________________
Do you have the need for speed?
    Time of reading
1st Reading  __________
2nd Reading  __________
3rd Reading  __________

Procedures:  1)  Introduce the lesson by explaining that good readers know how to read fast.  By this I mean they read and
reread a book until they can read it fast.  The more times you read a piece of text, the more familiar you become with the
words.  Today we are going to learn how to become fast readers by reading and rereading a book.  We are also going to time
our reading and see how many words we can read per minute.

2)  Remember that fluent readers also cross-check when they read.  Reading for speed does no good if you aren’t
comprehending or understanding what you are reading.  Here is a good example of a fluent reader who cross-checks.  [Read
the sentence, “I was driving my cat, when all of the sudden I slammed on my brakes.”]  What is wrong with that sentence?
Right, I was driving my cat makes no sense.  [Reread the sentence and change cat to car].  As I reread the sentence, I
discovered that the word is car not cat.  A fluent reader cross-checks and rereads a word or sentence if it doesn’t make sense
to them.  So whenever you are reading, always remember to cross-check if a sentence or word sounds funny.

3)  Now that we have reviewed how to cross-check when reading, we are ready to begin reading.  First, I am going to read a
passage from Arthur’s Loose Tooth that you guys will be reading.  Listen to my reading and tell me which way leaves a good
impression with you.  [I will read the passage very slowly.]  What’s wrong with my reading?  Right, I need to speed it up and
make it faster.  [I will read the passage faster.]  Does that sound better?  Very good, it does.

4)  [I will partner up each child with another child.]  In their group, they should take turns reading the story to each other,
practicing the fluent, fast way the teacher modeled.  Say:  Now class, I want one person in your group to read the wrong way
and read very slowly.  Then I want that person to read the fluent way and read fast.  Then I want the other person to read slow
and fast [they will read slow and fast to each other].  Now doesn’t reading fast make a difference.  Now I want each of you to
take turns reading the story to each other in a fluent, fast way.  [Give children time to discuss the story with each other.]

5)  Explain to the children that they are going to read the story again, but this time, they are going to be timed on their reading.
Show them the football field chart and tell them that the goal they should all try to reach is 85 words per minute.  Show them
how the football player moves across the field until he scores a touchdown, which is 85 words per minute.  Say:  Now
students, you will each take turns reading to your partner.  While one person is reading, the other will count how many words
were read.  I am going to time you for one minute.  After we read, we will record the results on each football field.

6)  For assessment, I will have each child read a passage to me in the reading center out of Arthur’s Pen Pal (a book they will
have previously read), and the passage will contain about 60 words.  I will assess how fast they read by timing them and
recording their time on a checksheet (see my example in the materials section).  After they have read through the passage once,
I will show them their score.  They will then be able to read the passage through two more times and try to improve their first
reading score.  While assessing each child, the other children can work on their repeated readings toward the goal of 85 words
per minute.

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

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