Growing a Garden of Fluency


By Elisabeth Owen

Growing Fluency


Rationale:  The goal of this lesson is to help students learn to automatically recognize words. Students can read faster and become fluent with rereading and speed reading practice which is part of fluency. This lesson will help students understand reading with speed and fluency by providing them with the opportunity to assess and record their reading progress and then have a partner record their readings.



Copies of My Garden by Kevin Henkes (one for each student), Sentence on the board: I chase away the rabbits so that they don't eat all the lettuce., Stopwatch (one for every two students), Cover-up Critters (one per student), Time chart for each student.


Directions for cover up critter: You will need a colored popsicle stick and two googley eyes for each cover-up critter. Turn the Popsicle stick horizontally and glue the eyes on one end.


Directions for graphs: Each graph will have one stem with increments of 5 or 10, depending on how much progress the goal is set to achieve, going from the grass to the sun. Each increment will need a small square of Velcro. Each child will have an object that they would like to grow in their garden with a piece of Velcro on it. The child will move his/her object up the stem to show their progress.



1. Say: "Hello everyone! Today we are going to learn about how to become more fluent readers! To be fluent means to be able to recognize words automatically without having to stop and decode them. When you are able to do this, reading becomes more fun because you are able to understand what you are reading much better!"


2. Say: "Today we are going to use cover up critters to help us read a word we don't know." Write the word check on the board. "If I came to this word in a story and did not know it, I could use my cover up critter to help me figure it out. I would first use the cover up critter and my finger to cover every letter but the vowel, because I want to first figure out what the vowel says. Here, the vowel is e, and I know the e says /e/. Next, I uncover the first two letters ch. Together with the e, I know have /che/. Last, I uncover the final two letters, ck, and add them all together. I know that the word is check. Use the cover up critters at any point during your reading to help you learn new words!


3. Write the following sentence on the board: I chase away the rabbits so that they don't eat all the lettuce. Say: "I'm going to read this sentence out loud as if I were decoding it. Now, I'm going to read the sentence again, but a little faster this time." Last, read the sentence at a normal rate. "Which time sounded the best when I read the sentence? The last, correct!" Explain to the students that the last time sounded much better and was easier to understand because it was being read more fluently. The first reading was slow, choppy, and hard to understand, but the last was fluid and smooth.


4."Now you are all going to have a turn to practice reading fluently! I will pass out to each of you a copy of My Garden. I want you to practice whisper reading the book to yourself for a few minutes. This book is about a little girl who is daydreaming about what she would grow in her garden if she had one. What does she want to grow? Read to find out!"


5. Once the students have had enough time to read the story several times say, "Now that you have had time to read the story, I want each of you together with a partner. One of you will be the timer while the other will be the reader. The timer will time the while they read the entire passage. You will then write down how many words the reader read on a time chart and how long it took them to read the words. You will do this three times, and then switch roles." Pass out a time chart to each student and a stopwatch to each group.


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


7. Once all of the groups are finished, I will take turns calling the students up to my desk to review their reading results help them set reasonable and attainable goals. We will graph their results using a growing flower. After we graph where they are today we will set a goal for where they need to get to by the next time we do the activity.


Assessment: Students will be assessed using their flower graph over a period of time.  Ask comprehension questions.



Over the River and Through the Hills to Fluency We Go - Kendra White


Henkes, Kevin. My Garden. Greenwillow Books, 2010.


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