Going, Going, Gone! 

Fluency Literacy

Mary Kay Williams

        Comprehension is an important part of learning to read.  Beginning readers can spend so much of their effort trying to decode the words, that they do not spend much time comprehending what they read.  These readers need to learn fluency, which is the ability to recognize words accurately and automatically.  Fluent readers use less of their time decoding, leaving more time for comprehension.  To become fluent readers, children need to learn how to read faster, smoother, and more expressively.  This lesson will help students become more fluent through repeated readings of text.  By working with partners, students may learn new decoding skills and will get more practice reading.  The more students read, the more their reading skills will improve.

        Sheet with Baseball Diamond-copy for each student
        Class set of Lee and the Team
        Sentence strips with a few decodable sentences: James ate some toast for a snack.  The cat jumped in the air.  The girl ran home in the                 rain.
        One baseball field chart per child (See bottom of page)  (The chart will have a baseball field drawn on it. The goal is to hit a homerun, which                 means over the fence.  There will be three different levels: infield, outfield, and a homerun)
       Peer Checklist (See bottom of page)


1.     Introduce the lesson by reviewing the self-help strategy of cross-checking. "Sometimes when we read a sentence, we might read a word wrong.  When we do this, sometimes the sentence no longer makes sense."  Give an example of a sentence read the wrong way such as "I wanted to take a nap in my bead.  Does that make sense? No.  It should say 'I wanted to take a nap in my bed.' Sometimes after we read we have to look at the whole sentence to make sure that it makes sense.  "One thing to remember when you read is to make sure that the sentence makes sense when you read it aloud." Tell them that reading fluently results in reading that is more enjoyable and that today we are going to work on becoming fluent readers.

2.     "Today we are going to work on reading words as fast as we can.  Sometimes when I read a sentence once, I don't understand what I read or I read it really slowly.  Today we are going to practice reading one book a few times to see if we can get faster.  The point of the activity is not to skip any words or read them incorrectly.  We want to read correctly as fast as we can."  Model reading a sentence slowly decoding every word.  Then read the same sentence faster to show the difference and the goal for the lesson.  "The first time that I read this sentence, it might sound like this 'J-a-me-s a-te s-o-me t-oa-st for a sn-a-ck.'  If I read it again it might sound smoother, like this 'James ate some toa-st for a sn-ack.'  And if I read it again it might sound faster and I would have expression, like this 'James ate some toast for a snack.' Do you hear the difference? That is what we will be doing today."

3.     "Now, I want each of you to get a partner."  Put the sentence strips up on the board.  "I want you to practice reading the sentences out loud to your partner.  Start slow to make sure you read all of the words correctly.  Then try to say the sentences faster and smoother.  Take turns and make sure each of you get practice."

4.     Give each student a copy of Lee and the Team.  Give a book talk for it.  "Lee is on a baseball team.  He cannot get his teammates to go run anywhere. They would rather sit in the weeds.  How will he get them to the game?  Will they win the game? Read the story to find out what happens."

5.     Ask the students to spread out and read the book.  "I want you to read the book one time.  When you are finished, close your book and put it in front of you so that I will know when everyone is ready to move on.  Sit quietly until everyone is finished."

6.      "Now that we have read the book once, I want each of you to reread it.  I am going to pass out a worksheet with a baseball field on it along with a stopwatch. The goal of this activity is to see how fast you can read the book in order to hit a homerun on the chart.  Now boys and girls, you will each take turns reading to your partner. While one person reads, the other will keep the time on the watch.  The person who is not reading will be filling out your baseball diamond sheet for you, so the first thing that I want you to do is to write your name on the pitcher's mound. Then the next time you read, if your time has improved, you can move the baseball to the infield.  The goal of this activity is to see how fast you can read the pages you have chosen in order to hit a homerun on the chart.  Now boys and girls, you will each take turns reading to your partner. While one person reads, the other will keep the time on the watch.  Then the next time you read, if your time has improved, you can move the baseball to the infield, then to the outfield, and so on.  The ball only moves if you increase your speed.  I want you to do this activity until you hit a homerun."  

7.      Once this is done they should then prepare to read the book for the last time.  The peer should use a checklist like the one attached to this page to help assess their reading. They should take turns reading to one another.  After this is done they should discuss the book. They will tell the teacher what they liked and what they did not like. They should write a few things they talked about down and turn it in along with the checklists.

        Observe each group of students by walking around to be able to hear fluency develop with the repeated readings.  Make sure that they are doing everything correctly and listen carefully to them as they read.  Look at the charts to see if they are improving their times.  Have each student read one of the sentence strips that they practiced with earlier to you so that you can see if they got faster, smoother, or more expressive through this lesson.  Allow students more time to practice reading silently.


Cushman, Sheila and Rona Kornblum.  Lee and the Team.   California: Educational
Insights, 1990.

Keith, Cassie. "Hit a Homerun with Reading Speed" http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/begin/keithgf.html

Miller, Allison.  "It's Outta Here: Hit a Homerun with Fluency" http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/begin/milleragf.html

Peer Checklist

Name of reader:    ____________________    Your name:        ____________________
Check the list if the reader did the following:

 __________   Read smoothly.
___________  Read the words fast.
___________  Read most of the words correct.
___________  Read with expression.
___________  Cross checked unknown words.

Baseball Field Chart (label infield, outfield, and homerun)

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