Racing to Read


Growing Independency and Fluency

Bembry Smith


Rationale: The purpose of this lesson is to teach the importance of comprehension while reading. Most beginning readers spend a majority of their time decoding words and don’t spend enough time comprehending what they are reading. These type of readers need to work on their fluency, which is the ability to recognize words accurately and automatically. Fluency can be learned though repeated reading of decodable texts. Fluent readers can use less time decoding and more time for comprehension.



-Stopwatches (for each set of partners)

- pencils

- copy of fluency racetrack for each student

- sentence strips with decodable sentences (Andy and his dog went to the park./ The boy had a bad dream last night. / The girl did not want to play in the sand box.)

- copy of Tin Man Fix-It (for each set of partners)



1.       Introduce the lesson by reviewing crosschecking as a self-help strategy. “Remember that when we read a sentence sometimes after reading the sentence it might not make sense because we accidently read a word incorrectly? Here is an example: ‘She is mad and wants to go ham.’ Did that sound right? No! It should say ‘She is mad and wants to go home.’ When we read and something might not make sense after reading it, we should go back and look at the whole sentence to see what we may have read incorrectly. Reading aloud is a great way to figure out if something makes sense or not. Today we are going to practice being fluent. We are going to continue to become even better readers as we work on fluency. . .reading faster.  This skill will also help you understand words better because we will not have to try so hard to read the words.  One way to become more fluent is to read the same text more than once, trying to read faster each time as you become more familiar with the book. 

2.      “It is very important for readers to read quickly and smoothly. In order for a reader to do this usually they have to read and reread the text. Sometimes when I read a sentence once, I don’t understand what I read or I read it really slowly.  Today we are going to practice reading one book a few times to see if we can get faster. I want you to practice reading as fast as you can, but I don’t want you to skip any words or read them incorrectly.” I will put one of the sentence strips on the board; first I will model how a beginning reader will read the sentence by decoding every word slowly, then I will model how a fluent reader may read the sentence, quickly and smoothly. “The first time I may read a sentence it may sound like this, ‘An-d-y a-n-d h-i-s d-o-g w-e-n-t t-o t-h-e p-a-r-k.’ If I read it again it may sound smoother the second time. ‘An-dy and his dog w-ent to the p-ar-k.’ If I read it one more time it may sound very smooth. ‘Andy and his dog went to the park.’ Do you hear a difference from the first time I read it and the third? That is what we will be practicing today!”

3.      Have the students try this with the other sentence strips but with partners. “Practice reading the sentence strips out loud to your partner. Start slow, like I did, in order to read all the words correctly and then re read the sentences so you can practice getting quicker and smoother. Make sure you take turns.” Do this with the 2 remaining sentence strips.

4.      Hand each set of partners Lee and the Team and do a book talk. “Now you are going to read Lee and the Team.  Lee is a boy who plays baseball. He and his teammates are late for a game but nobody will listen to Lee when he says that they need to hurry up.  Will Lee’s team show up late to the game and have to forfeit or will they make it on time?  You’ll have to read the story to find out.”

5.      “I want each student to read the book one time to your partner. Read it slowly so you can make sure you read each work correctly. When you are done close the book and wait for further directions.”

6.      Now I will pass out a stopwatch and a fluency racetrack to each pair or partners. “The goal of this lesson is to see how fast you can read the book in order to pass all three checkpoints on the chart to get all the way around the racetrack. Each one of you will read the book Lee and the Team again, but this time your partner will use the stopwatch to time you. You will write your first time on the first checkpoint mark on the worksheet; this is your ‘Starting Time’. You will continue to read Lee and the Team and time each other two more times until you have gone through all the checkpoints and have gone all the way around the racetrack. We are hoping to have a shorter time the third time than we did the first time!”

7.      “Now that we have read and reread the text I hope everyone was able to comprehend what we were reading. I want each student to come up with 2 or 3 questions about Lee and the Team that they can ask their partners in order to see if they understood the meaning of the book.”


Assessment: I will walk around the room and observe the pairs of partners as they are practicing repeated readings with the sentence strips and to see if fluency is developing. I will assess the racetrack charts to see if their times are improving. Listen to each student read the whole text of Lee and the Team, to me, to see if they are reading quickly and smoothly.



Decodable text: Lee and the Team

Amanda Palmer, Speed up!

Meg Miller, Speedy Readers.

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