Reading faster, words will flow.

Reading faster, here we go!

(fluency lesson)


Mark Mathews


Without fluency reading is too bothersome and frustrating to enjoy.  If reading Is not enjoyable, children will simply not read.  This lesson is designed to help children read faster through repeated reading and timed reading of decodable text.


1.         The Bell Rings, by Mark Mathews IV

2.         stopwatch(es)

3.         teacher-made progression chart(s) with bell towers.  The progress being documented is WPM (words per minute)

4.         laminated paper bell(s) with Velcro pad to attach to chart(s) to map out individual or group progression


1.         This lesson requires a little work prior to teaching.  That work is a baseline read for the student(s) to see where they are already with regard to speed in WPM.  If working with multiple students, you could use individual charts or one large chart with a class/group average WPM token system.  Even before that baseline read some things need to be explained to the students, and it might go something like this … “Today we’re going to time ourselves and see how many words we can read from this story in a minute.  Or, if you finish in under a minute, how much time it took you to read it all.  When we time ourselves and push to read faster, we are becoming better readers.  Our reading voices get better, we learn to read faster, and we actually learn to enjoy reading more than ever before.”

2.         Review with students what decoding means, “When we are reading our familiar stories and books we need to sound out each word correctly.  Reading faster is what we want, but it’s always better to read the words correctly too.  When we cover up parts of words and sound out smaller pieces, we’re decoding”

3.         Before timed reads, explain how to use decoding strategies while keeping speed in mind … “I know sometimes trying to read faster is hard.  You don’t want to mess up on words, and you don’t want to slow down do you?  Well, I want you to know any mistakes you make and any speed you read at is ok!  When I was learning to read I was slower than most of the kids in my class, and I messed up a lot.  But I worked and I worked and I got faster and better at reading, and reading got to be a lot of fun!  So, when you’re reading, do your best to sound out the words in your head, or use cover-ups, but don’t worry too much.  Just focus on getting through the story.  When you read it again those words will get easier, I promise.  So, remember speed is what we want to work on, ok?”

4.         Model for the students using either the same text they are going to read for timed reads, or a different text.  Do so in two ways … a) [appx. 20 seconds] “spak .. Spak Foxses is wild bard .. bard’s pal … space fox is wild bard .. bird .. wild bird’s buddy.  But wald .. wild .. bard .. shoot .. bird .. must go home.” … b) [appx. 10 seconds] “Spak .. space fox is wald .. wild bird’s pal.  But Wild Bird mast .. must go home.”

5.         Simple practice comes before both the baseline read and timed reads.  The students just need a little warm up to get set.  Warm them up with the first block of decodable poem The Bell Rings.  You can warm them up on something else if you like, just make sure it’s decodable text.

6.         Read The Bell Rings while keeping time with stopwatch(es) to record on the bell tower chart(s).  With one student this is simple enough.  If doing this activity with an entire class, the students could time each other in pairs/groups, or you could have everyone mark down where they finished when you stop the watch for the class.

7.         While assessing the students(s) with use of the bell tower chart(s), keep detailed records in each student’s journal and track progress or lack there of.


1.         Ready, Set, Read! By Jeremy Knowles

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The Bell Rings

By Mark Mathews IV


I can not sit,

I must be off.

The Bell has just rung,

And I am up in this loft!


Mom is the one,

She let the bell ring.

I have to run back

If the bell gets to sing.


When I get back,

She sits me down quick.

But I dig in fast fast

And end up sick sick!


She just had to ring out,

And sit me down quick.

That bell is the one

That got me this sick!