Carolyn Lawton


The Great Reading Race

RATIONALE:  When students are learning to read, they are spending the majority of their brainpower on decoding.  After decoding skills have been gained, students need to concentrate on reading the text for comprehension and meaning.  This comprehension comes with fluency.  To gain fluency, students need to read and reread texts, have texts with decodable words, and have texts that are meaningful to them.  The direct route to gaining this important fluency is repeated readings.  This lesson will focus on repeated readings with partners, and will include graphing activities.

· Hand-out for each student with the following sentence printed on it: The dog late the bone.
· pencils, crayons
· two copies of several books (books should be on students independent reading level)
· block paper with “number of seconds” on one axis and “reading number” on the other axis
· Chart for each student


1. Introduce the lesson by recalling how to cross-check, and explaining that cross-checking, as well as learning to read smoothly and fast, is part of becoming a “grown-up reader.”  (Pass out sentence with incorrect word and have students read the sentence ­ monitor if they are cross-checking upon the realization that the sentence is nonsensical.)  "Let’s change this sentence that I just passed out so it will make sense."  (Discuss possible word-changes together)  "Okay, now let’s read this sentence again three more times.  The first time you read the sentence, it was new to you so you might have read it a little slow.  By the last time you read it, though, it was familiar ­ so you could read it really fast.  This is what we mean by reading smooth and fast.  We don’t mean speeding through and missing words, but we do mean not spending lots of time figuring out each word and forgetting what our story is about!"

2. "Now I’m going to pair you up with a partner and give you each a copy of the same book." (Pair students and give each pair of students the same book, but each student will have his own copy.  Each pair will also receive one stop-watch and a chart). "We’re going to practice reading to each other, and we’re going to know our books so well that we will be able to read them very smoothly.  Listen to me while I read this page of my book."  (Read page slow and choppy at first.  Then read page smoothly.)  "Wow ­ there were some big differences in the way I read that same page!  Let’s list some words on the board to describe the first way I read it" (read again, if necessary, and list words for both types of reading)

3. "Okay, let me tell you about the chart we’re going to use" (explain chart and how it will be filled in ­ time of reading, total words in passage, words missed).  "Let’s read our books all the way through once, and then pick your favorite page to use for your chart.  I want you each to take turns reading a page, and be good helpers if your partner gets stuck on a word."

4. "Okay, pick your favorite page and record the number of words in the correct spot.  Then you can start timing each other and recording the results!"  (Walk around classroom to monitor students and offer assistance).

5. (For assessment, do the following)  Have the children pick another page from the book and switch partners.  "Now that you’ve picked a different page, we’re going to make a graph of the time it takes you to read the page.  Should our time go up or down after we’ve read a couple of times?" Hand out the blocked graph worksheets, and have children color in the blocks for the amount of time their reading takes.  Children will turn their graphs in for teacher to check progress.

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

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