If You Give a Student a Book…

A growing independence and fluency Lesson Design by Elizabeth Bryant

Rationale: In order for students to become more fluent readers, they must grow in their abilities to read accurately, smoothly, quickly, and with expression. Reading fluently is an important step toward reading comprehension. When a child reads fluently, he or she is able to focus more on the content of the text instead of on slowly decoding every word. An important aspect of reading fluently is reading smoothly. Crosschecking and rereading are tools that complement each other and that aid in teaching a child to read smoothly.


Student copies of If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.

Repeated reading checklist


1. Begin the lesson on fluency: "Today we are going to learn how to read smoothly, meaning that when we read, we don't sound like robots or have long breaks between words. Even fluent readers do not always know every word. In order to read smoothly we need to crosscheck and then reread the sentence so that we can read it smoothly! So when you come across a word and get stuck, go back and read the sentence again, and use what you know about spellings of words to get the word you are missing. Once you think you have it, reread the sentence to make sure it makes sense!"

2. "Today we're going to focus on reading smoothly! Rereading is an important tool we can use to read smoothly as we become more comfortable with what we are reading." Write this sentence on the board: I like to eat cookies with a big glass of milk! Then read the sentence like a robot. "I… like…. to… eat… eat… um… with… a big…. glass… of…. milk. Oh! I… like…. to… eat… eat… COOKIES… with… a big…. glass… of…. milk. I like to eat cookies with a big glass of milk. "Did you hear how when I didn't know the word cookies I finished the sentence and then went back to figure out the word. Then I read the sentence again. I could read it smoothly because I knew all the words.  "Today, we are going to read If you Give a Mouse a Cookie three times! This way we will be able to become more fluent, smooth, readers."

3.  "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie is about a little boy and his pet mouse who is rather creative and full of energy! He is always coming up with something else to do! Will the little boy be able to keep up with all of the mouse's ideas? Let's read to find out!" The teacher will now read the book to the children so that they can become more familiar with the story line and will be able to focus on reading fluently when it becomes their time to read independently.

4. "We are going to read If you Give a Mouse a Cookie together as a class. Follow along in your book and read with me!" After reading the story as a class, the students will then read to each other.

5.  After reading the story, say: "Now I want for you to break into groups of two. Each group needs a book and 2 repeated reading checklists. You and your partner are going to take turns reading and listening to each other. While one of you reads, the other will listen for if you are reading smoothly. Now everyone make sure your name is on your checklist and write your partners name on the back of your checklist. Quickly decide who is going to read first. When you read, use the crosschecking technique for words you don't know and reread the sentence so that you can read it smoothly. This is your second time reading the story and I want you to read to your partner a third time as well so you can read even more smoothly! After you read to your partner, discuss with your partner how you read. The partner who was listening needs to mark which time the reader remembered more words (as marked by the elephant), read faster (cheetah), read smoothly (swan), and read with expression (monkey). Then swap roles and whoever read, listen, and whoever listened, read."

6.  Once everyone has finished reading, get feedback from the students. "Who felt like they read more fluently the more they read the book? Would anyone like to share about their readings and what helped you to read more fluently? Great! Thanks for sharing!"

7. Each student will be assessed individually on fluency by meeting with the teacher. They will read If you Give a Mouse a Cookie while the teacher takes notes on how smooth, accurate, and expressive each student read. Although the lesson was focused on reading smoothly and using the crosschecking and rereading strategies, the teacher will be able to asses not only these things but also the other aspects of fluency to judge what needs improvement and what areas the children are competent in. The teacher should compare her notes to the rereading checklist completed by the students. While the teacher is doing pullouts, the rest of the students are to write their own version of the story and illustrate it once finished, so as to assess comprehension.


McMillan, Mery. "Fast and Fluent Reading is Fun!!" (from the Reading Genie Website): http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invitations/mcmillangf.htm

Book: If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. Illustrated by Felicia Bond. HarperCollins Publishers. New York, NY, 1985, 2010.


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