Racing for Reading

Growing and Independency and Fluency

By Crystal Dykes




 Fluency is the ability to read aloud expressively and with understanding. When fluent readers read aloud, the text flows smoothly rather than sounding halting and choppy. In order to help children become fluent, teachers should model fluent reading, and have students do repeating readings. In order to read fluently, students must first hear and understand what fluent reading sounds like. This will help them to transfer those experiences into their own reading. Repeated readings help students recognize high frequency words more easily. This helps to strengthen their ease of reading. Once students are able to decode effortlessly, they are able to enjoy reading much more because they can focus more on the story than on decoding the words.  Therefore, repeated direct practice with texts is a great strategy to begin student's development of fluency.  This lesson is aimed at helping students read expressively, smoothly, and quickly.


1)    Sentence strips for teacher to read to class (3)

2)    White board

3)    Dry erase marker

4)    Sentence strips for students to read in pairs (2 strips for each student with a different sentence on each)  1. The frog jumped into the sky.  2. The dog can run fast.

5)    Book: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff 

6)    A copy of: "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Numeroff (for each student)

7)    Graph paper with tongue twister on board: Cookie Crumbs Cover the Comfy Couch

8)    Class library of books for children to practice reading fluently

9)    Assessment checklist for individual student reading assessment: number of words read in one minute, and how many words read accurately.  Fluency formula: words x 60/ seconds



1.     Explain the difference between a fluent and non-fluent reader. Today, we will be practicing improving our fluency when reading. Who can tell me what fluency is? Right, it means to read fast. A skillful reader not only reads fast though. A skillful reader reads words automatically and reads with expression.  Reading fluently means that you can read faster, reading is easier, you can read more and you can understand the text better.  Beginning readers read slowly and may struggle while reading.  Reading is more difficult and is slower.  I'm going to read a sentence and you tell me if I'm a beginning reader or a fluent reader.  The mouse took a nap (Fluent). The mmm ooo u ss e t oo-o k a n aa p [beginner].   Great! Now let's practice to become fluent readers.

2.     Now, I am going to show you how to read more fluently.  What does fluent mean again?  (Wait for answer).  Good job!  So, I am going to read without sounding out all the words, and let's see if it is more fun to listen to.  I will read Abby has a pet mouse named Crumbs.  Well, wasn't that much more fun to listen to?  I thought so.  That is how I want each one of you to try to read each time you pick up a book.

3.     Write a practice sentence on the board: Read the sentence very slow to the children.  For example, f-r-o-g-s   j-u-m-p   v-e-r-y   h-i-g-h-. Sound them out slowly again and practice the cover-up method.  Read the sentence again smoothly and using expression.  Frogs jump very high! "Which way did you like it better, slow or fast?  Fast!  Why did you like it better?" (Hopefully the children will say it sounds better fast because you can understand it better).

4.     Practice with the sentence strips.  First, everyone is going to get two sentence strips with a different sentence on each one.  Then, I want you to get into groups of two and practice saying these two sentences over and over again.  "Practice smooth reading with expression class." A way to becoming a fluent reader is to read and reread texts.  I am going to show you how to do it.  I will read, 'The cat went to sleep on the rug.'  (Several times).  Then, Abby will read, The frog jumped up into the sky. She will read the sentence several times and then read the next sentence several times.  Ok now practice reading and rereading your sentences to your partner.  I am going to be walking around and observing you working with your partner.

5.     If you get to a word that you do not know, what should you do?  First, you should finish the sentence and then try to make sense of the word by crosschecking. If that does not work, then you would use a cover-up. Yes!  Do not panic!  Remember for the cover-ups we first cover everything up except the vowel and say the vowel sound…Like this:  For the word Cat, you would cover up the c  and the t, so only the vowel a is uncovered.  Next, cover up everything except the letters before the vowel, so you would only keep c uncovered.  Then you would blend c with the vowel a.  This would be ca. Last, cover up all of the letters except the ones after the vowel. So you would cover up ca but leave t uncovered. When all is done, put all of those sounds together to help you read the word c-a-t (cat). (Model and example on the board).  If the cover-ups still do not work, read on or ask your partner for help.(Teacher should model how to improve).

6.     The teacher will give a book talk on If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. This book is about a boy and his pet mouse. The mouse always needs a glass of milk after having a cookie. But then after his glass of milk, he is reminded of something else that he needs. This is a continuous process and every time he gets something, he is reminded of something else that he needs. Is he going to end up getting everything that he asked for, or is the boy going to get tired of giving him things. In order to find out, we will have to read to find out what happens. Now I want you to read, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

7.     We are going to do a quick, fun tongue twister. I will say if first (will be posted on the board also) and then you repeat after me:  I say Cookies Crumbs Cover the Comfy Couch.  (Students repeat). Now say it again, one more time, as fast as you can. Very good!

8.     Okay, now I want everyone to reread the copy of If You Give a Mouse s Cookie to your partner.  When you're finished, you may choose another book from our class library to practice reading fluently.  Remember, if there are more than two words on a page that you don't know, you might need to choose another book.

9.     Allow the children at least 30 minutes to accomplish these goals.

Assessment:   Call on each child to bring their book to your desk and have them read at least one page from their book out loud to you.  Have a checklist ready so you can record their smoothness, speed, and fluency. I will have a checklist so that I can note any miscues, number of words read in one minutes, and how many words read accurately. I will use the fluency formula: words x 60/ seconds.


Murray, Bruce.  The Reading Genie.

Numeroff, Laura.  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Harper Collins. 1985 pp. 28