Chugga-Chugga, Read-Read!

A Lesson on Faster Reading

by: Lauren Thompson

Rationale: Children must have the ability to recognize words and their meanings automatically if they are to be considered fluent readers. Fluency can be defined as recognizing words automatically at a steady pace and identifying said words accurately. Students should be spending their time deciphering the message instead of stopping to decode each individual word. Crosschecking is a critical method that children must use in order to ensure that what they are reading makes sense. Children who are able to recognize words automatically, read with expression, and understand the context of a story are well on their way to becoming fluent readers.

Materials: Zack’s Alligator Goes to School (enough for all students and the teacher), whiteboard, dry erase markers, fluency checklist (included below), stopwatches (enough for each pair of students to have one)


1.) This lesson will begin with the teacher explaining the concept of fluency to his or her students. First, the teacher will ask if anyone knows what fluency means. (listen to responses) SAY: Those were all great guesses/answers! When we say that someone is reading fluently, it means that they are reading quickly, understanding what they are reading, and putting expression into their reading. It also means that you are able to recognize words very soon after you look at them and you don't have to stop and sound out each one. Does anyone know how we can improve our fluency?" (listen for answer that we must practice) "The best way to improve our fluency is by PRACTICING our reading over and over again. Reading can be so much fun once we can read quickly and accurately. Today we are going to be reading a book several times and timing ourselves to see how much we improve with each time we read it. I'll explain how we're going to do that soon but first I want to review a strategy that we can use when we run into a word that we don't know while we are reading."

2.) SAY: "All right, who can remind me what crosschecking is?" (listen to student responses) "Excellent! Crosschecking is something we do to make sure that what we've read makes sense. How can we use crosschecking when we run into a that we don't recognize?" (listen to responses) "That's right! If we see a word we don't know, we finish the sentence it's in to see if we can figure it out using context clues. We can also use crosschecking if we read a sentence and it doesn't make sense. Let's try an example. (Write an example on the board: He has on a big hat) "I'm going to read this sentence and we'll see if it makes sense. Ready? 'He has on a bag hat'. A bag hat? Does that make sense? No, I don't think so! What should I do now that I realize what I've read doesn't make sense?" (listen for crosscheck) "Right! We need to crosscheck ourselves to improve our fluency and keep the message in the book the same as the author wrote it."

3.) SAY: "Now that we've reviewed crosschecking, I want to demonstrate how to read fluently. I'm going to read a sentence a few different ways and I want you to tell me which one sounds the best to you, okay?" (Write sentence on board: Doc taps the mop) First I will read the sentence while emphasizing each phoneme. SAY: "/D/ /o/ /c/ /t/ /a/ /p/ /s/ /th/ /E/ /m/ /o/ /p/." Next I will read the sentence with the phonemes blended and with the correct spacing but I will add no inflection to my voice. I will mainly read in a monotone voice. Finally, I will read the sentence with all of the phonemes blended, the correct spacing, and the correct amount of expression. SAY: "Now let's vote to see who thought the first way I read the sentence sounded correct. (write number on board) Who thought the second way was correct? (write number on board) Who thought the third way was correct? (write number on board) If you chose the third option, you're correct! I read all of those words automatically without stopping to blend all of the sounds and I read with expression. Let me read it again the correct way a few more times so that you can see how good it sounds compared to the other two options."

4.) Pass out Zack’s Alligator Goes to School books to each student. SAY: "Now that everyone has a book, I want you to read it by yourselves first and then I will pair you up so that you may read to one another and evaluate how well each other has done."

5.) The students will now be paired up into groups. The teacher should pay special attention to the reading levels of his or her students and perhaps pair a higher level reader with a lower level reader. SAY: "I need everyone to listen to me VERY CAREFULLY so that you know what to do next. I'm going to pass out a checklist to each student that you are going to use to evaluate your partner. The two people in a group will get one stopwatch that you will use to time each other while you read your book. (Pass out checklist) On the name line, I want you to put your partner's name. Did you get that? Do not put your own name on that piece of paper. I want you to put your PARTNER'S name. Go ahead and do that. (do a spot check to make sure students understood directions) There is a line that says 'Time' and under that it says 'After 1st read, after 2nd read, and after 3rd read'. The person who is listening to their partner read will begin their stopwatch when their partner begins to read and stop their stopwatch when their partner finishes the book. The person with the stopwatch will then record that time on the line that says 'After 1st read'. The person will then read the book a second time and the person with the stopwatch will record that time in the 'After 2nd read' space. The person will then read the book a third time and the person with the stopwatch will record that time in the 'After 3rd read' space. If you look down to the bottom of the page you will notice there is a list with the numbers 1-4. At the top of that list you'll see that it says 'After 2nd' and 'After 3rd'. Read each item on that list and record your partner's progress after each read. For example, number 1 says 'remembered more words'. If I were listening to Kyle read and he remembered more words in the book and made less mistakes while reading, you would put a check in that column. If I listened to him read again and he made even fewer mistakes then I would put a check in the 'After 3rd' column. You will do this for your partner for all of the items on the list. Once the first person has read three times and been evaluated by the person with the stopwatch, it is then time for the partners to switch jobs! Now the person who was reading will be timing their partner reading and evaluating their progress. Is everyone clear on what they're supposed to be doing? Great! Let's get started!"

6.) Assessment: I will call individual students up to do passage reads while I check for fluency and accuracy. I will also look over their peer evaluation checklist.


Houlton, Allyson. 3, 2, 1… Blast-Off into Reading!

Mozelle, Shirley. Zack’s Alligator Goes to School. HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.

Murray, Bruce. Developing Reading Fluency. Auburn University Reading Genie Website


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Peer Evaluation Fluency Checklist:


 Speed Reading Record:

  Name:_________________________            Date:___________


     - After 1st read            _______

     - After 2nd read           _______

     - After 3rd read            _______


-Partner Check Sheet for students to assess their partner's fluency:

 When I listened to my partner read:

                                                         After 2nd           After 3rd

       1. Remembered more words         _______          _______

       2. Read faster                                      _______          _______

       3. Read smoother                               _______          _______

       4. Read with expression                   _______          ______