Growing independence and fluency
Kristen Britton

Rationale:  When children are learning to read they tend to spend a lot of time decoding the text, which slows them down and takes away from comprehension.  For children to be able to comprehend the text they must become fluent readers.  Fluency is increased when students read and re-read familiar texts or use decodable text.  This lesson uses re-reading familiar books with a partner to increase fluency.  The students will each pick a part of the text and have their partner time them with a stop watch while they read the same selection repeatedly.  Each time they read their time should be faster.  This is an activity designed to be used in a reading center.

*pencils and paper
*one stop watch per pair
*3 sentences to practice reading fast and slow before getting into the text ( ex.  James and Ann bake tasty treats, The boy jumped into the pond, Her dog can run as fast as she can!)
*Class set of the book Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
*One race car per child (Each child can decorate their racecar prior to the first "Race")  The racecars will go on a large chart on the wall.  The cars will be movable and the students will get to move their car each time their reading time increases.  If their speed decreases they will have to move back one space and it will take longer to get from the starting line to the finish.  There will be 4 spaces for each child participating: the start line, curve one, curve two, and the finish line. 

Begin by reading the story aloud to the class so that each student is familiar with the book prior to doing the activity. 
2.  Remind the students that when reading a book in their groups they should make sure that each sentence makes sense before moving on, and if it doesn't make sense they should go back and cross check themselves.  Model by using an incorrect sentence (She bought fruit at the small.)  Ask the students if that sentence made sense.  Then model the correct sentence (She bought fruit at the STORE.)  Make sure they understand the difference.
3.  Tell the students that when reading not to skip words they don't know or read a word that doesn't make sense just to read faster.  Remind them that they are learning to read like adults who read all the words accurately and fluently.  Model reading a sentence slowly while decoding words, then model reading faster and more fluently. ( My teacher gave us a test about China.)
4.  Pair the students off and give each pair a copy of the practice sentences.  Have them practice reading the sentences each slowly and then faster
5.  Pass out a copy of Harry the Dirty Dog  by Gene Zion, to each student.  Have the students re-read the story together using shared reading or choral reading.  Then have the students pick out their favorite page from the book. 
6.  Give each group a stop watch, pencils, and paper to record their times.  Explain that each person will read their chosen selection while their partner times them on a stop watch.  They will write down their first time on the piece of paper.  This will be their time at the starting line.  They will switch and let the other child read their favorite part.  for the second (third, forth) reading the child only gets to move their racecar if their time is faster than the previous time, if not they must move back a space (unless it is the 2nd reading in which case they will stay at the starting line).  They continue re-reading to each other until they reach the finish line, which only happens if their speed increases each time. 
7.  After they complete the activity they will read the book to themselves quietly.

Assessment:  For assessment, the teacher should spend some time while the students are in the center listening to each group a few times over the course of center time.  if students are not increasing in their time the teacher should make a not (out of sight of children) of the child and the problem that they seem to be having.  If this happens the teacher can then offer to be the child's reading partner and repeat this activity. 

Blast Off With Reading Speed   by Jara Walden
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion (Harper Collins Publishers © 1956; 28 pgs) 

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