Zoom Into Fluent Reading

 Rocket Ship

Growing Independence and Fluency

By Janie Colvin

Rationale: Being able to read fluently is being able to recognize words automatically. When readers can recognize words automatically, their reading becomes faster, smoother, and more expressive, which in turn, leads to silent reading. To reach this goal of becoming a fluent reader, we, as educators, must encourage students as they read and re-read decodable words in connected text. In this lesson, children will be able to recognize the importance of automatic fluent reading, which will help them to gain more meaning and understanding from the text. This lesson is designed to help readers increase their fluency and reading ability.


·         Copies of Slim's Outing by Geri Murray (one for each student)

·         Sentence on the board: The rocket zooms past the moon.

·         Stopwatch for each group of students

·         Cover-up Critter for each student  

·         Rocket Targets for each student  

·         (Rocket targets need to have a space background with increments of 5 going from the ground to the moon. The rockets will need to have Velcro on the back in order for them to move easily from one target to the other.)



1. Say: Good morning boys and girls! Today we are going to learn about how to become more fluent readers. Reading fluently means that we can read words without having to stop and decode them or understand each of them. Becoming a more fluent reader is going to allow you to better understand what you are reading.

2. Say: When we come to a word that we do not know or can't figure out, it is important for us to figure out what that word is instead of skipping over it and moving on to the next word. We must try our best to figure out the word so we can understand the rest of the story. Think of the story like it is a puzzle. All of the words fit together perfectly to make the story complete, but if one is missing, then the story is incomplete, and will not make sense when reading it. Today we are going to use our "cover-up critters" to help us figure out difficult words. (Write the word brick on the board.)  If I was reading a book and did not know what this word was, I would first start with figuring out what my vowel says. I do this by using my "cover-up critter" and my fingers to cover every letter except for the letter i. I know the letter i says /i/. Next, I uncover the letters b and r. Now I have /bri/. Finally, I uncover the last two letters, ck, and add them to the first part. I now know that my word is brick. Remember, you can use your "cover-up critter" to help any time you can't quite figure out a word.

3. Say: Now I am going to read a sentence out loud (multiple times), and I want each of you to tell me which sentence is the most fluent. First, I will read the sentence as if I am decoding it: ttthhheee rrrooocckkeeettt zoooommss paaasstt tthhee mmmooonnn. Next, I will read the sentence a little faster. Finally, I will read the sentence the way I normally would. Say: Which sentence sounded most fluent to you? (wait for answers) Great job! The last way was the easiest to understand because I read that sentence the most fluently. When we read fluently, others can understand what we are reading.

4. Say: Now I want each of you to practice reading fluently. I want everyone to take out a copy of the book Slim's Outing. Slim's Outing is about a pig named Slim who gets out of his pen when no one is watching. Do you think Slim behaves himself while he is out of the pen? Let's read to find out! I want each of you to read this book a few times on your own because practice makes perfect. After each of you have finished reading the book at least three times, then I will give you further instructions. Don't forget to try to make the words as fluent as possible.

5. When each student has had a chance to read Slim's Outing a few times, Say: now that each of you have had the opportunity to practice, let's quietly come back to the center and I will pair you with a partner. I would like for you and your partner to read the book three times each to one another. I will be giving one of you a stopwatch, and I want you to time your partner for one minute while you listen to him/her read the book. At the end of the minute, you will count how many words your partner read within that minute (until the timer went off). You will have a piece of paper to record the results. As soon as one partner has read 3 times you will switch partners and do the same activity again. (Calculate how many words your partner read by using this formula- words x 60/seconds)

6. While the students are timing one another, I will walk around to make sure that they are assessing each other correctly, following all directions, and staying on task.

7. After all groups have finished reading, I will collect the results. I will then take turns calling each student up to my desk to give him/her their results from the readings, as well as helping him/her set reasonable and attainable goals for the future. We will graph his/her results on his/her rocket target. After we graph where he/she is today, then we will set a goals for where he/she needs to be by the next time we do this activity.

Assessment: Their movement or lack thereof on the rocket target will assess the students. You can keep this documented for easy recovery.


Zoom, Zoom, Zooming into Fluency- Maggie McKinney


Slim's Outing- Geri Murray http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/book

Timing Worksheet:

Trial #

Words per Minute








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