Racing to Read Fluently

Anna Bates


Rationale: As children become better decoders they start off sounding very choppy.  They sound choppy because they are reading each word individually.  Word recognition becomes quicker and more involuntary through decoding.  At this time we must make sure to work with our students on fluency.  Fluency is reading smoothly and at a steady pace and reading with expression.  This will also improve your students reading comprehension because they are able to focus more on the meaning of words and less on the decoding.  Fluent readers also feel gratification in reading, because they are not having a hard time with each and every word but have a bigger sight vocabulary.   Through this lesson students will learn to read the sentences only pausing when there are punctuation marks.  They will also learn to read with expression and smoothly. 



-Class set of decodable books, Red Gets Fed by Sheila Cushman (one per student)



-Dry erase board and marker

-One minute read charts for each student

-Fluency rubric for each child

-Progress chart for each child (a baseball player going around the bases; gets to move to the next base when they progress.)


One Minute Read Chart:

Name:______________________  Date:____________

1st minute: ______

2nd minute: ______

3rd minute: ______


Fluency Rubric:

Name:______________________  Evaluator:_______________________  Date: ___________

I noticed that my partner: (put an X in the blank)                                              

                                                      After 2nd    After 3rd

Read Faster                                      ______      ______

Read Smoother                                ______      ______

Read with Expression                     ______      ______

Remembered more words               ______      ______


1. Introduce the lesson by explaining the distinction between a fluent and beginning reader.  "Today, we are going to practice reading more fluently.  Who knows what fluently means?  That's right, you guys are smart!  Fluent readers read quickly.  They also read automatically.  (Write the following on the board: 'I won the race')  A beginning reader sounds like this when reading the sentence on the board: 'IIIIIIIII wwwooooonn tthhee rrrrraaaaaccee'  Then they might say 'III-I wwwoooonn-won tthheee-the rrrraaacccee-race' stumbling over the words and repeating words that they do not recognize.  A beginning reader who can read the words automatically might say 'I won the race' but sound like a robot, because he or she does not read with expression.  But a fluent reader who recognizes words automatically and reads with expression sounds like this: 'I won the race!'  Fluent reader sounds like this, because all of the words are apparent to the reader.  The only way to become fluent is to practice.  The more practice that you have with a book, the more rapidly you are able to read it.  Reading a book that you have already read before also helps you become more natural with books that you have never even seen before.  Let's get practicing, so that we can become fluent readers too!"


2. First, I will review the cover-up strategy with all of them.  "Okay everybody, what do we do when we come to a word that we cannot read?  You are right, we use cover-ups!  For example if I saw this word (write stomp on the board) when I was reading and did not know it, I would cover-up all the letters (s, t, m, p) but the vowels because I know that o= /o/.  Now look at the letters before the vowel o, the st.  Blend these phonemes with the vowel o.  This sounds like /s/t/o/.  Then blend the letters at the end of the word, the mp, with the rest of the letters to make /s/t/o/m/p/.  When you see a word that you don't know how to read, use the cover-up method to help you decode the word."


3. Tell the students: "To understand what we have read, we cannot just concentrate on reading fast.  We can crosscheck what we read to make sure our sentence makes sense.  For example, if I read this sentence (Write on the board: "The mice squeaked.") as "The mace squeaked" then I could use my crosschecking ability to decide that mace doesn't squeak so my reading doesn't make sense.  I would then reread my sentence correctly as "The mice squeaked."


4. I will break the class up into pairs.  I will then give our book, Red Gets Fed to each child; I will also hand out a Fluency Rubric and One Minute Read Chart to each individual child.  I will give the following book talk about Red Gets Fed, but will be cautious not to give away the resolution to the conflict: "Red is a pet dog.  He is a sweet, but mischievous dog.  He goes and bothers Meg trying to wake her up so that she will get him something to eat.  Do you think that Meg will wake up and feed Red?  We'll have to read to find out what happens."


5. I will tell students to take turns reading to their partner.  The person who is not reading will note how many words the "reader" reads within one minute.  The "recorder" will tell the "reader" when to start and stop by using the stopwatch.  The "recorder" will then make a note on the One Minute Read Chart about how many words were read in that minute, while the "reader" can move his baseball.  They will then switch turns (the "reader" becoming the "recorder" and vice versa) and do the process again.


6. After both children have finished the whole book one time, I will have them practice by doing a repeated reading of the same text.  This time I will also remind each "recorder" to fill out the Fluency Rubric after the "reader" has read the book.


7. Let the students to do one more rereading of the book for a total of three readings of the book.  Remind the children to carry on recording their partner's one-minute reads and to complete the Fluency Rubric.  I will let the students discuss how they got better within their readings and re-readings of the book with their partner.


8. I will then collect the students' completed Fluency Rubrics and One Minute Read Charts.  I will compare the students' first, second, and last readings to check for development in fluency.


Assessment: I will have each child read a section to me in the reading center out of Red Gets Fed.  The passage will contain approximately 60 words.  I will measure how fast they read by timing them and recording their time on a checklist.  They will then be able to read the passage through two more times and try to better their score.  Our class will also have a conversation about Red Gets Fed to make sure that everyone has understood the text and did not just race through the reading without understanding the text. 



Racing to Read Fluently by Amanda Harry:


Murray, Bruce. Developing Reading Fluency.  


Race Down the Track With Fluency by Erin Hale:


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