Climbing up Fluency Mountain

Growing Independence and Fluency

Catherine Anne Moulton



When children first learn to read, they read words slowly- causing them to read without expression and the necessary punctuated pauses.  As children's reading ability develops, they have to read and reread decodable words in connected text (fluency formula) - this will yield fluency.  Being fluent allows more opportunity for reading comprehension because less time and effort is spent figuring out the words in the sentences.  Most often, the students who can read fluently not only become successful readers, but also become lifelong readers because reading is natural and pleasant for them.  This lesson will help students understand reading with speed and fluency by timing their reading speeds, having fellow students assess their fluency with worksheets three times, and by performing a reader's theater.


Class set of decodable text Pig in a Bag by Geri Murray (one per student), Stopwatch, Pencils, Dry erase board and marker, One minute read charts (one per student), Fluency Rubric (one per student), Progress chart for each child (mountain with a mountain climber that climbs up to reach the peak – The mountain has numbers along it to signify how many words were read per minute. The climber climbs the height associated with the number of words read in a minute.), Reader's Theater Scripts (one for each student with their highlighted part), "Which Shoes Do You Choose?" by Aaron Shepard (12 copies) and "Help! Hilary! Help!" by Aaron Shepard (copies for the remaining students with modified parts if necessary.), Cover-Up Stick (a mediator used to help students cover up parts of a word to decode).


One Minute Read Chart

Name: ______________________ Date:__________

1st minute: ______

2nd minute: ______

3rd minute: ______

Fluency Rubric

Reader: ____________ Listener: ____________ 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 fluency lesson to the class.  Say: Today we're going to practice reading fluently and with expression.  Write the sentence My dog is the best! on the board.  Explain to the class that when children first learn how to read, they sometimes read like this, 'mmmmmyyyyy ddddoooogggggg iiiissssss tttthhhhheeeee bbbbeeeeesssstttt.' When they start improving, they might read it altogether, but they might sound like a robot, "My – dog – is – the – best.'  It is so important for readers to read with expression.  With this sentence, I see there is an exclamation point at the end, so I know that the speaker is excited, not dull.  'My dog is the BEST!'  Can you say that with me?  Be excited just like I was.  'My dog is the BEST!'

2.  With the class, review the cover-up strategy.  Say: When we read and we come to a word that we don't know, what strategy can we use to help ourselves figure out the unfamiliar word?  Yes, we can use the cover-up strategy.  (Write the word prank on the board.)  If I came to this word in a sentence and I wasn't sure what it was, I would start with the vowel sound, /a/.  Then I would cover up the letters so I could only see the p and r and I would say, Ppprrr.  Pr. Then I would uncover the a, and say Pr- aaaa. Pra. Then I could uncover the n. Pra- nnn. Pran. Last, I would uncover the k.  Pran-kkk. Prank.  The word is prank.  The cover-up strategy is very useful when we come across a word in a sentence that we do not know.

3.   Remind students that reading quickly is not the only goal. ''Remember that reading fast is good, but you also need to pay attention to some other things. Let's look back at our sentence on the board. If I read the sentence like 'mydogisthebest!' it would sound like one long word because I read it too quickly and without taking time to insert a space between the words. Reading like that might cause me to not understand what the sentence is trying to tell me. We need to read at a comfortable pace so we don't forget what we've read before, but so we understand what we are reading in the moment also. We can also crosscheck. (Write ''The boys played a prank on the girls.'' on the board) If I read, 'The boys played a prack on the girls.' I would think, 'You know, that just doesn't make sense. Prack? Oh, prank, like a trick. The boys played a prank on the girls.'''


4. Divide the class in pairs and give each student a fluency rubric. Give a book talk on Pig in a Bag. ''Today we're going to read Pig in a Bag. It is about a little boy named Tim who is turning ten. Tim's friend Ben gives him a pet pig for his birthday. Tim loves the pig, but you will have to read the story to find out if Tim's other pets do!'' Tell the class that one person will be the reader first and the other person will be the listener. The reader will read the text one time through. Then, they will read it a second time. After the second time, the listener will fill out the fluency rubric. The reader will read the text for the third time, and the listener will fill out the fluency rubric. After the first reader has read three times, the reader and listener will swap jobs. The pair will repeat the same procedure. (After all students have completed the reading and the fluency activity, I will collect the rubrics for evaluation.) *The students will be shown a demonstration of how to evaluate their partner's fluency and how to fill out the rubric prior to this activity.*


5. ''Now, we are going to do a fun activity that is going to help us with our fluency and with using expression. We are going to perform in a reader's theater!'' Divide the class into the appropriate number for their reader's theater selections. One group of 12 will perform ''Which Shoes Do You Choose?'' by Aaron Shepard. The other group will perform ''Help! Hilary! Help!'' by Aaron Shepard. (Both scripts are suitable for 2nd grade students. Modifications can be made to the scripts to ensure all parts are fulfilled.) Every student will be given a script with their part highlighted. Tell the class, ''Now, I have given you all each a script with your part highlighted. Your group will have 12-15 minutes to practices your reader's theater. Then, we will perform them for the class.''


6. Have the students practice, and then perform their reader's theater to their classmates. (During practice time, go around to the groups helping them figure out words if they need assistance. Remind the students to read at a comfortable pace, and pay attention to punctuation marks for the appropriate expression needed.)


7. For assessment, I will have each student come to the reading corner and read Pig in a Bag aloud to me and I will conduct one-minute reads of this to further assess their fluency. I will time each one individually and make miscue notes during each reading. I will have the students' progress chart with the mountain and mountain climber, so that the student can see his or her progress in fluency. After each student has read, the student and I will have a quick talk about Pig in a Bag, so I can assess their reading comprehension. In addition, I will review the student's fluency rubric.


Lydon, Lili. Let's Rock and Read.

Murray, Bruce. Developing Reading Fluency.

Murray, Geri. Pig in a Bag.

Shepard, Aaron. Reader's Theater Editions. ''Help! Hilary! Help!''              

Shepard, Aaron. Reader's Theater Editions. ''Which Shoes Do You Choose?''

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