Ready, Set, READ!









Growing Independence and Fluency

by Avery Gwaltney

Rationale: Students first learn to decode when learning to read. Decoding each letter and phoneme in a sentence or even a short text takes a considerable amount of time. Students must learn to progress in the pace and level of their reading. In order to become better readers, students must learn to read fluently. Reading with fluency means that one reads quickly and with enthusiasm, thus making reading a more pleasant experience for the reader and his or her listeners. Re-reading is one strategy that helps a reader read fluently. The student is exposed to the text many times, so he or she can read and understand everything in the book. Re-reading to create fluency really helps children to understand the meaning of the text. We will practice fluency by rereading. Another way for readers to become more fluent is when they are reading and they do not know a word they can use decoding and crosschecking as a way to understand what they are reading.



Multiple copies of In the Big Top (One copy for each student)

One stopwatch for each pair of students


Laminated cut outs of a racecar with Velcro on the back

Speed Read Sheet to record one-minute reads (one for each child) for teacher to mark scores

Fluent Reader Checklist (categories: remembered more words, read faster, read smoother, read with expression.)


Speed Read Sheet
Name of reader: ____________
Name of partner: ____________
# of words read 1st time: ____________
# of words read 2nd time: ____________
# of words read 3rd time: ____________

Fluent Reader Checklist
I noticed that my partner:
2nd time         3rd time
      x                 x                 Remembered more words
      x                 x                 Read faster
      x                 x                 Read smoother
      x                 x                 Read with expression



1.) Explain to the students that to become better readers, we must read with fluency. "Today we are going to be learning how to be better readers. We are going to do that by reading fluently. Reading fluently means that we want to read quickly and with enthusiasm or expression. One way we can learn to read fluently is to re-read. And that's exactly what we're going to do today. Now let's first review a way to figure out a word that we don't know." Write the word cat on the board. "First we want to cover up everything but the vowel, the a. Now we want to make that short a sound, /a/. Next we uncover the first letter; c. C makes the /c/ sound. Now let's put those two sounds together /c/ /a/, ca. Next we're going to uncover the last letter; t. T makes the /t/ sound. Now let's try blending all of the sounds together. /c/ /a/ / t/, ca/t/, cat. Also, let's not forget, if we still are having trouble with a word, we can crosscheck by reading the whole sentence to see if the word we are using makes sense."


2.) Demonstrate how to read fluently. "Now I'm going to show you what it sounds like when someone reads fluently and when someone doesn't read fluently." Write the sentence The dog is on the rug. "First I'm not going to read it fluently. The  d-o-g   i-s   o-n   the   r-u-g. Could you hear how choppy that was? Could you really get the meaning of the sentence when you heard it that way? Now let's piece it together slowly to make sure we all understand the sentence and exactly how to read it fluently. The  d-o-g   i-s… The dog is   o-n   the  r-u-g…The dog is on the   r-u-g. The dog is on the rug. Isn't it easier to understand the meaning of the sentence as you start to read it fluently?"


3.) "Now we are going to start working on our reading then re-reading with a book called, In the Big Top. We are going to read the book several times because re-reading is SO important. Re-reading is important because that is how the experts get good at reading aloud. When you read something a few times, words get really easy; it is easier to understand ideas. It also makes it easier to read out loud so others can understand what you are reading. In this book, a family dressed in silly clothes is getting in a car. I wonder where they are going. I guess we will have to read the book to find out!"



4.) Split the class up into pairs.  Hand out a copy of the book In the Big Top to each student, a Speed Read Sheet, a Fluent Reader Checklist, and a laminated racecar cut out. I will explain to the students that one person is going to be the "reader" and the other is going to be the "recorder."  After the first person has read, they will switch jobs. Then I will tell them that they will start at the beginning of the book and read for one minute.  I will be in charge of starting the stopwatch and telling the "reader" when to stop after one minute.  When I say stop, the reader will put his/her finger on the word they were on.  The "recorder" will count the words that the "reader" read and then record them on the Speed Read Sheet.  The "reader" will now move their racecar up to the number on the pathway that matches the number of words they read.  The "recorder" will also fill in the Fluent Reader Checklist by circling how the "reader" did.  They will then switch roles and the "reader" becomes the "recorder."  They will then follow the same steps in their new jobs.


5.) Allow the students to repeat this three times, in order to compare their results.


6.) After every pair of students has completed the "one minute reads" three times, I will read the rest of the book to the class in case they didn't get to finish it during their minute reads.


7.) Then we will have a discussion about the book, in order to make sure they comprehended what they read individually, and what I read.



8.) To assess the children, I will do individual one-minute readings with each child. I will have them read In the Big Top individually to me, and I will record how many words they read per minute. This will be the fourth time they have read this book. To see if they are making improvements with the number of words they are reading, and with the speed they are reading I will look at the Speed Read Record Sheet, and the Fluent Reader Sheet.


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