Racing towards Fluency


Growing Independence and Fluency

 Michael Norris


Rationale: Fluent readers are able to recognize words rapidly and automatically. It is important, when reading, that the reader is able to comprehend the text instead of having to focus on individual words and letters.  "Being a good reader requires being able to decode and being able to decode automatically—that is, with little overt attention…being a good reader also involves knowing the meaning of lots of words and dealing with the ideas in a text" (Beck, 2006, pp.79-80). Overall, to learn to read fluently, students need practice through reading appropriate texts.


Materials: Copy of The Sea Foam for each student (Sims, Matt. The Sea Foam. High Nine Books. 2002 pp.1-25), Stopwatch, Pencil and sticky notes, Sentence Strip: "The Seam Foam is set to sail," Checklist for teacher- Includes the following three questions for the teacher to fill out for each child: "Can the student identify which sentence is read with fluency?", "Can the student read the story to the teacher smoothly and quickly?" and "Can the student comprehend the text and answer the questions for comprehension?"



Teacher Checklist


1. Can the student identify a sentence read with fluency?

2. Can the student read the story smoothly and quickly?

3. Can the student comprehend the text and answer the comprehension questions?


Fluency Sheet

   Name of Reader:                                 

   Name of Partner:                                

        Words read 1st time:                          

        Words read 2nd time:                         

        Words read 3rd time:                          

I noticed that my partner:

        2nd time         3rd time

           O                     O        Remembered more words

           O                     O        Read faster

           O                     O        Read smoother

           O                     O        Read with expression


Procedure: 1. First I will explain to the student the purpose of our lesson, which is to read fluently. Today we will work on improving our fluency. Fluency is the ability to read a book rapidly, without having to sound out each of the words. We will work on becoming more fluent by reading a book more than once. Each time you read the book you will understand the text better and you will slowly be able to read faster and faster. So, today we will practice our fluency by reading the text more than once and see how much better you can read it.

2. During each of the readings make sure that the students crosscheck themselves if they do not recognize the word they are reading automatically. Don’t forget to crosscheck while reading if you don’t recognize a word automatically, you should also use the cover up critter to make it easier to sound out the word. Once you know the word reread the sentence and continue with the story. If the word does not make sense, try crosschecking again. If you still can’t get it, then I will come and help.

3. Model for the students how to read with fluency.  Display a sentence strip with the following sentence: "The Sea Foam is set to sail." First I am going to show you what it sounds like to read without fluency. "The  S-S-S-e-e, S-e-a F-F-F-o-o-a-a-m-m i-i-i-i-s-s-s-s-e-e-e-t-t-t t-t-t-o-o s-s-s-a-a-i-i-l-l. After I had trouble with the tricky words, I crosschecked so that I could read the words correctly. "The Sea Foam is set to sail." Now tell the students, Now I am going to read the sentence like a fluent reader. "The Sea Foam is set to sail." Could you hear the difference between the first reading and the second? The second time I did not have to spend time sounding out any of the words. That's what it sounds like to read fluently. When you are a fluent reader you also read with expression. This means that you read the sentence with an emotion like: sad, angry, frustrated, happy, and many more.

4. We are going to be reading the book The Sea Foam to practice improving our fluency. The book is dividing up into 6 Chapters: Set to Sail, Out of the Bay, On the Sea Foam, At Sea, Up on the Reef, and Rob Saves Us. The lesson will take multiple days or extended time for the students to read through the whole book. They should begin in Chapter 1 and be tested on fluency for that chapter. As they grow in fluency they will move through each of the chapters until they are able to read the entire book themselves, fluently.

5. Give the following book talk for The Sea Foam. The Seam Foam is the families’ boat, and they love to ride the boat whenever they get a chance. One day the boat gets trapped against a reef. Will the family be able to be rescued and save the boat from being damaged? You will have to read to find out what happens!

6. Next break the students into groups of two and give each student a copy of the book The Sea Foam. The teacher should also supply a stopwatch for each pair of students. One student will be the reader and one will be the time keeper and they will switch after the reader is done reading the first chapter of the book. When it is your turn to read, I want you to read as many words as you can in a minute smoothly and fast. Do not skip any words! When the timer goes off place the sticky note where you left off reading which is where you can stop counting. Count each of the words after the time goes off and record the number on your fluency sheet. Read the chapter three times. When you have finished reading a chapter three times and have recorded all the information you can bring your sheets to me and I will let each of you read individually to me. After you work with me you can move onto the next chapter. Now you can start!

7. While the students are reading, the teacher should walk around the classroom listening to their reading. The teacher should also be prepared to help the students with their reading and any other assistance they made need with the lesson if needed.


8. To assess each of the students, the teacher should have the students turn in their own fluency sheet and the teacher should have one of their own. Each child should be called up to the desk one by one. Then the students will read the chapter they read with their partner. As the student reads the teacher should time a minute and make notes. At the very end she should add up the words and record the data. Such data will include whether they are reading fast and fluent or stumbling over their words, along with any miscues.


·         Beck, I. Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys. New York, NY. The Guilford Press. 2006. pp. 79-80.

·         Sims, Matt. The Sea Foam. High Nine Books. 2002 pp. 1-25.


·         Cooper, Leigh


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