Smooth Sailing

Stephanie Skinner
Growing Independence and Fluency

Rationale:  In order for children to read without frustration they have to read fluently. This means to read faster, smoother, and more expressively. Silent reading is also brought about by fluency.

Materials:  One copy of Bud the Sub for each student, a checklist for each student (the checklist will have boxes to indicate if the child reads smoothly for the second and third readings []), a stopwatch, a graph chart with each student's name on the bottom and the correct number range on the left side, one pencil per group of two, a black permanent marker, and a red permanent marker.

Example of Graph Chart

        1. When we want to learn something we practice it. Sometimes it takes a lot of practice to learn something well. Think about riding a bicycle. Could you just get on it and start riding it? NO! We have to first learn with training wheels and then remove them and let someone run beside us and help us stay balanced. Then we can ride by ourselves without any help but it took us a lot of practice to get this good. This is the same thing we have to do in reading. We have to practice reading so that we can read smoothly.

         2. Does anyone remember how to crosscheck? Wait for responses (the children may need to be prompted). That's right! We use cover-ups. Cover-ups help us check out reading by covering up different parts of the words and making the sounds of the parts of the word that you do see. Even though this is a great thing to do while reading we do not want to use it very much during this.

        3. Today we are reading for smoothness. Listen to me as I read these sentences "B-abe says/stays in h-his c-c-cage. The c-cage has B-base nose/name." What did you notice about the way that I read these sentences? (Make sure that the students say something about it being choppy or not smooth.) Listen to me read the sentences again. "Babe stays in his cage. The cage has Babe's name." Now what did you notice about the way that I read the sentences? (Make sure that the students recognize the smoothness.) This is how we are supposed to read, but it takes a lot of practice for everyone to become a fluent reader. Today we are not going to try to say each word correctly; we will just try to read as many words as possible.

         4. Each of you needs to come up and get one copy of Bud the Sub. I am going to time you with my stopwatch as you read. I will time you for one minute. In this minute, I want you to read as many words as possible. When I say STOP I want you to put your finger on the last word that you read. Now I want you to count all the words that you have read. Start with the very first word and count to the one that your finger is on. You may also start with the word that your finger is on and count back to the first word. After you count your words, remember the number because I will come around to you and write it down for you. (Let the students do their reading and collect their numbers. As you collect these numbers you need to give each student a check sheet and each group a pencil.) Before we go on we will mark their numbers on the graph paper in black permanent marker.

         5. Now I need everyone to get into groups of two. On the sheet that I just gave you, you will see two boxes. Your listener will mark these boxes, if you can make your words run more smoothly. We will be doing three readings. The first reading will be done for a practice or a warm-up. The second two readings are to see you improve your reading. We will only use the sheet for the last two readings. The first box is for the second reading and the second box is for the third reading. Each of you will be a listener or a reader. But right now you need to decide which of you will be the first reader and the first listener. After the reader reads three times, then you will become the listener and the listener will become the reader. You may begin reading but remember that we are only listening for smoothness in the reader's voice.

         6. As the students are reading, walk around, observe them, and make any miscue notes.

         7. After the students' finishes reading do another one minute timed reading. This time mark the numbers on the graph with a read permanent marker so that they can see the difference they have already made. After all the reading and the rereading of this book they are sure to already have made an improvement in their fluency and smoothness. This will be a well-deserved motivational boost.


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