Racing to Read!

Independence and Fluency Design

Rebecca Walton


Rationale:  If a sentence is read too slowly-say, one word every 5 seconds-it’s structure collapses and what remains is a string of words producing little meaning” (Eldridge).  Fluent readers are able to read quickly and effortlessly, allowing them to focus on comprehending what is being read.  The goal for this lesson is to teach students how to speed up their reading, and improve fluency.  The students will be given time to read and reread decodable text to each other while doing one minute timed readings. 



1. Stopwatch for each pair of students

2. A copy of the book Jane and Babe (published by Educational Insights c.1990) for each pair of students

3. A sheet of paper with a banana tree on it for each student.  The banana tree should have lines going up the tree to the bananas for the students to write in numbers.

4. A cutout picture of a monkey for each student

5. Chalkboard and chalk

6. Pencil for each student


1. Begin the lesson by reviewing the a_e=/A/ correspondence.  Teacher will give the word babe as an example, and write it on the board.  Ask students to display their knowledge of the a_e correspondence by naming words with that correspondence.  Teacher will write the words that the students name on the board.

2. Next, do a book talk for Jane and Babe.  Have you ever been to a zoo and seen a lion?  Jane is a girl that works at the zoo.  Every day she plays with Babe the lion. She likes to take care of him.  One day Babe falls asleep and Jane needs to wake him up.   Even though Babe is tame, Jane has to be careful because lions can get very mad.  How do you think Jane will wake Babe up without getting hurt?  Read the book to find out!!”

3. Today, we are going to practice reading with fluency.  This means that we are going to practice reading very quickly.  When we read quickly, we are able to understand the story much easier than if we read slowly.  The teacher will model how not to read by reading the first page of Jane and Babe (reading very slowly without fluency, sounding out each word, taking long pauses between each word).  “B-abe  (pause)  st-ay-s in his (pause) c-age. (pause)  The c-age has B-abe’s (pause) n-ame.  (pause)  The c-age h-a-s a (pause) g-ate.” 

4. Now read the same page; this time reading with fluency and expression.  “Babe stays in his cage.  The cage has Babe’s name.  The cage has a gate.”  Tell students the difference between the two ways you read the same page.  (One way was slow, choppy, and boring.  The other way was quick, smooth, and entertaining.)  Emphasize how important it is that we read quickly so that we can understand and enjoy what we read. 

5. Divide the students into pairs of two.  Give each pair of students a copy of Jane and Babe and a stopwatch.  Give each student a piece of paper with a banana tree with lines going up the tree to write numbers on, a cutout of a picture of a monkey, and a pencil.  Teach the students how to use a stopwatch.  Explain to them how to do one minute reads.  Model by having a student time you for one minute while you read Jane and Babe.  Show the students that you must count all the words you are able to read in one minute. You should not count the words that you read incorrectly.  Model counting words that you read in Jane and Babe. Tell the students that they are going to practice fluency by doing one minute reading with their partners.  They will take turns reading Jane and Babe to each other.  One person will read aloud while the other person times a minute with the stopwatch.  However many words you read in a minute the first time you read, that is the number you write on the first line on the bottom of the banana tree.  The next time you read, if you are able to increase the number of words per minute, then you get to move up to the next line of the banana tree.  Every line you move up, you get to move your monkey closer to the bananas.  The object is for you and your partner to make your monkey reach the bananas at the top of the tree.  In order to do this, you have to keep increasing your words per minute.  Write your words per minute on the lines on your banana tree.  Give the students time to read at least three times each.  Tell the students that if they didn’t make it to the top of the tree, we will be practicing fluency again in the lessons to come.     

Assessment:  Have students write their names on the banana tree charts.  Compare the number of words per minute the first time they read to the number of words per minute the last time they read.  See if it increased. 



Auburn University Reading Genie Web site, Growing Independence and Fluency Design, Estill, Laura.  “Sail into Reading


Eldridge, J. Lloyd.  Teaching Decoding:  Why and How, Second Edition.  “Improving Decoding, Fluency, Comprehension, Motivation, and Writing” pg. 151.  Pearson Education, Inc.  Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. C2005.


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