Growing Independence & Fluency

Lauren Hendriks


SHH! We’re Reading!




Rationale:  To be a fluent reader, a child must be able to read both aloud and silently to themselves. To increase reading speed, fluency, and comprehension, students need to learn to read silently. In this lesson, students will learn techniques to read silently. In this lesson, the children will be reading a decodable book of their choice (with independent reading level stickers) to learn how to read without talking.



1. Yellow (high reading level), red (middle reading level), and blue (lower reading level) stickers    for Independent reading levels for books.

2. Classroom library containing books with Independent Reading level stickers on them.

3. Book talks for a few of the books

4. Pencils

5. Reading Journals

6. Worksheet for cross-checking (at the end of the lesson)

7. Chalk for chalkboard

8. Sample books for your classroom library – Kite Day at Pine Lake by Sheila Cushman, Teach Us Amelia, Bedelia by Patricia Parrish, and Leftover Lily by Sally Warner

9. Technique checklist for silent reading



1. Begin the lesson by telling the students that they are going to start a reading a different way than they have in the past. We are going to learn how to read silently today. The teacher will then give a few book talks to get the students interested in some of the books they will be able to select from. (Examples:  Kite Day at Pine Lake by Sheila Cushman, Teach Us Amelia, Bedelia by Patricia Parrish, and Leftover Lily by Sally Warner).

Sample Book Talk for Leftover Lily – Six-year-old Lily is left out when her friends exclude her.  Lily picks a new friend to boss around, but her new friend Hilary does not want to be controlled by Lily! What is Lily going to do now?

2. The teacher will also explain that they will be reading silently so that they can read faster, and so they can understand what they are reading a little easier. When we read out loud we can sometimes get distracted or distract those around us. When everyone is silent, you are able to concentrate on the book you are reading. Before we start reading silently, we are going to review a few strategies to help your reading be smoother.

3. The teacher will begin this by explaining cross-checking to the students. The teacher will make sure that when the students read silently, they read for comprehension, not just for speed. The teacher will pass out a worksheet with sentences on it like:  The cat barked when it found its bone, and Sally the mouse ate a piece of cheese. The children will go through these sentences on their own, then decide which ones make sense to them. Then, the teacher goes over the right answers with the whole class and make sure that everyone understands. It is important to remember to cross-check, or see if what you are reading makes sense, when you are reading silently.

4. Next, the teacher should review how to do the cover up method. Write the word "mouth" on the board. Ask a student, how would you use the cover up method to read this word? Good, first you would see what sound the vowel makes, then add the first letter to the vowel, and finally add the last sound. (While explaining this, the teacher will show the ou first, then uncover the m, then add the last sound /th/) The teacher should then model how to do some harder words that the children might not know (absolute, numerous, etc.). For numerous, the teacher should uncover nu/mer/ous part by part and explain how to put the sounds together to say the word.

5. Class, I am going to pick up a book and read the first paragraph. Notice how I read silently, not where you can hear me. (Teacher should read silently so students know how it should look while they are reading.)

6. Now we are going to have some of our own silent reading time. Everyone may pick out one book to read from our classroom library. You may pick a book that I gave a book talk on earlier, or you may choose another book. Make sure you pick a book that has the same color sticker as the stickers that were given to you earlier today. If you are reading a chapter book, read as many chapters as you can in the time you are given. We are going to be doing silent reading daily from now on, so you will have plenty of time to finish your book. Then, the students will find a seat wherever they want to in the room and read their book silently.

7. If the teacher believes a student is not reading during this time, ask the student what they read after the silent reading time is over. The teacher can assess the children by observing them while they read. The teacher will look at their silent reading techniques (checklist for all students):

_____ Voicing

_____ Whisper

_____ Lips Only

_____ Silent

Then, the teacher can allow each child to go to the front of the room and share a sentence or two about their book. This is to make sure that they read it, and that they comprehended it.

8. Have the children write in their journals what they liked and didn’t like about silent reading. Also have them write a sentence or two about what they read in their book. After the children have completed their journal entry they will gather together again and have a discussion on the importance of silent reading.  The class can then talk openly about their silent reading experience.  They can discuss the problems some may have had while silent reading and how each student can become a better silent reader.



O’Brian, Barclay “Silence for Solo Reading” CTRD Student Spring 2001

Harbour, Mary Ann “Shh…Silent Reading” CTRD Student Spring 2001

Wilson, P. (1992) Among Nonreaders: Voluntary Reading, Reading Achievement, and the Development of Reading Habits. In C. Temple and P. Collins (Eds), Stories and Readers: New Perspectives on literature in the elementary classroom (157-169). Norwood, MA:Christopher Gordon.

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Worksheet for Cross-checking


1. The cat barked when it found its bone.


2. Sally the mouse ate a piece of cheese.


3. Johnny does not like her dress.


4. I bought my dog at the grocery store.


5. Mary wore her swimsuit in the summertime.