Practicing Fluency on One Winter Day

Growing Independency and Fluency

Lauren Owens


Rationale: Fluency is one of the most important skills to master in reading.  When a reader reads fluently, he or she can read quickly, automatically, and with expression. This lesson will teach children that you can become more fluent by reading and re-reading a text.  Students will keep each other accountable for their readings by partner reading and analyzing their partners' improvement.


Beginning chapter book- One Winter Day (Enough for at least half the class); Stopwatch (Enough for half the class); Class set copies of the following sentences:  1. I want to go to school and learn about math and reading. 2.  Sam and Susie are friends, but they do not always get along. 3.  Charlie cuts his paper and glues the pieces together to make a puppet. ; A piece of paper for the reader to record how many words were read each time to turn in so they can see progress; Cover-up critter (Popsicle sticks with googly eyes); Pencils


1. Explain what fluency is, because children need to know what it is and why it's important. Say: "Fluency is when you are able to read quickly and correctly without trying very hard. When you are a fluent reader, you can think about what the words mean, instead of thinking about how to "sound out" each word. Here's an example. (Hold up book One Winter Day, and read title). I can read this title, "One Winter Day" quickly and correctly because I am a fluent reader. I can think about the meaning of the title instead of sounding out each word.

2. I will then go over the cover-up technique with the students. I will remind them of the purpose of the cover-up critter (to help us decode words we don't know). Say: "Sometimes when I read, I come across a word I don't know right away. To help me figure out the word, I can use a cover-up critter. Here's an example. (Write the word shell on the board.) Let's see if I can use my cover-up critter to decode this word. Now watch what I do. (Cover up whole word, and reveal letters one by one.) /S/…/h/…. Oh! /Sh/…. /e/…. /l/…. Oh, I think I know! Shell! See how much easier that was, going sound by sound? The cover-up critter can make words less scary-looking. Sometimes it also helps to cover up consonants and see what the vowels in words look like. Here's an example. (Write tame on the board.) Now watch what I do. I will cover up the t and the m, the consonants. I am left with an a and an e…. oh, it's an a_e word, which means the a will make a long A sound, /A/!  Now let's use the cover-up critter. /t/…./A/…./k/…silent e, Take!  Next time you come across a word that doesn't look familiar, you can use your cover-up critter to help you.

3. Since most of you are such good readers, you might not need to cover-up sounds to help you read. Another technique is to do something called "cross-checking". If you don't know a word, you can take a guess and keep reading the rest of the sentence. Then you can go back and see if that made sense. If it didn't, you might be able to figure out another word that would go there. Let's try an example. [Write "I wish I could go to the zoo" on the board.] I'm going to try to read this sentence. IwishI… /c/…coldgotothezoo. I wish I cold go to the zoo. Hmm. That doesn't make sense. Let me go back and look at that sentence. I wish I cold….could? COULD go to the zoo. Oh, I know! I wish I could go to the zoo!

4. Say: "Another way we can become more fluent is by re-reading words to become more familiar with them. I am going to read this sentence two times, and I want you to judge which one sounds the best. (Write "I want to visit the store" on the board.) [First time:] I /w/ /a/ /n/ /t/…. Want? To vvvv--iiiiii--sssss--iiiii----t the /s/ /t/ /o/ /r/ /y/? story? Oh, store! See how I cross-checked? Let me read this a second time. [Second time:] I w…ant, want to visssssiit the st-ore. Which time was easier for me? (first) Was the first time difficult for me? (yes) Did I get better the second time I read? (yes) I still had some trouble with words like store, but since I was familiar with the words, it was easier for me to read. The first time I read, I was not fluent and I'm sure it was hard to understand what I was reading because the words were all chopped up. The second time, however, I was gaining fluency and it was easier to understand me.

5. Say: "Now I'm going to give you some sentences. Get with your partner (pre-assigned by teacher) and practice reading them. See if you get better the second and third times you re-read. Read the sentences as many times as you can, and see if you are a more fluent reader!" Give students copies of sentences. Walk around and listen as students read to see if their fluency is improving. Remind them that they are welcome to use their cover-up critters for additional help if needed.

6. Gather everyone back together. Say: "Did you see how much better you got the more you re-read? What are some things you noticed about your partner's reading?" (wait for response.) You are going to read this chapter book One Winter Night with your partners, and you will chart your partner's progress to see how re-reading helped you read more words.

7. Say: "Now you are going to get with your same partners. One person will be in charge of the stopwatch (time-keeper), and the other will be the reader. The time-keeper will time how long it takes the partner to read one chapter. The reader will quietly read one chapter of the text, and the time-keeper will time how long it takes. The time-keeper will write down how long it took for the partner to read one chapter. Then the reader will read that same chapter two more times, and the time keeper will write down the time it took for the 2nd and 3rd times. Then the reader and the partner will switch, and the same thing will happen. After you both have three turns and fill out your time sheet, you and your partner can take turns reading chapters and finishing the book together. After the book is over, I want you to ask each other questions about the book, for example: Who are the main characters? How did they get locked in the museum? How did they get out? (etc.)".

8. Give a book talk. Say: "Let me tell you a little bit about this book before you begin. Peter and Jenny are best friends who couldn't decide what they wanted to do on a boring winter day, so they decided to go to a museum called the art center. They enjoy looking at the exhibits, but after a while, they realize the lights have been turned off and they have been locked in the museum! Will they ever get out? You'll have to read to find out!"

9. Assessment: After the students have read to each other, have them individually come up to the teacher's desk and read a chapter of a book they have never seen before (that is on reading level). Take notes of their improved time and fluency, and ask comprehension questions as well (to make sure they are paying attention to what they are reading). Collect timed reading sheets and keep for further analysis.


Jones, Lindsey. "Practicing Fluency with Miss French".

Sims, Matt. One Winter Day. High Noon Books: Novato, California. 2004.

Timed Reading Sheet (see below).


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