Hit a Homerun with Reading Speed
Growing Independence and Fluency
Lindsay Dean

To become fluent readers, children need to learn how to read faster, smoother, and more expressively.  Students will be able to work on their reading fluency through repeated and dyad reading.  By rereading text, students will learn to read more words per minute.  By working with partners, students may learn new decoding skills and will get more practice reading.  The more students read, the more their reading skills will improve.

Materials: stopwatch (one per two people), pencil, paper, one baseball field chart per child (The chart will have a baseball field drawn on it. The goal is to hit a homerun, which means over the fence. There will be three different levels: infield, outfield, and a homerun), class set of a children's book about baseball Here Comes the Strikeout, by Leonard Kessler, worksheet with three or four simple sentences to read aloud to practice speed (ex. She has made a mess.)

1. Introduce the lesson by explaining the concept of cross-checking.  Give an example of a sentence read the wrong way such as "I want some mean to eat." "Did that sentence make any sense?  No, it should be "I want some meat to eat".  "One thing to remember when you read is to make sure that the sentence makes sense when you read it aloud." Tell them that reading fluently results in reading that is more enjoyable and that today we are going to work on becoming fluent readers.

2. "Today we are going to work on reading words as fast as we can.  The point of the activity is not to skip any words or read them incorrectly.  We want to read correctly as fast as we can." Model reading a sentence slowly decoding every word.  The read the same sentence faster to show the difference and the goal for the lesson.

3. "Now, I want each of you to get a partner.  I am going to hand out a worksheet with some sentences on them.  I want you to practice reading the sentences out loud to your partner.  Start slow to make sure you read all of the words correctly.  Then try to say the sentences faster and smoother.  Take turns and make sure each of you get practice."

4. Read the baseball book aloud using the shared reading concept.  Make sure the students follow along in their copy of the book.

5. Explain to the students how fast fluent readers read and how they should all practice reading at a quicker pace.  "Now that we have read the book, I want each of you to pick out two pages that are your favorite.  I am going to pass out another worksheet with a baseball field on it along with a stopwatch. The goal of this activity is to see how fast you can read the pages you have chosen in order to hit a homerun on the chart.  Now boys and girls, you will each take turns reading to your partner. While one person reads, the other will keep the time on the watch.  Then the next time you read, if your time has improved, you can move the baseball to the infield and so on.  The ball only moves if you increase your speed.  I want you to do this activity until you hit a homerun or hit it over the fence."

6. "Once you hit a homerun on the chart, I want each of you to read the book silently to yourself until everyone is finished.

7. Assessment:  Observe each group of students by walking around to be able to hear the fluency develop with the repeated readings.  Look at the charts to see if they are improving their times.  Allow students more time to practice reading silently.

Reference:  Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ:  Prentice Hall, Inc., 1995.  pp. 122-145.
Dr. Bruce Murray's Reading Genie website: www.auburn.edu/rdggenie

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