The Need for Speed
Growing Independence and Fluency
Kathleen Wheat

Fluent reading is a very important element in reading. Fluency allows for effortless and automatic word recognition, it also leads to faster, smoother, and more expressive reading.  Fluency paves the way for more enjoyable reading since children spend less time decoding words and more on the actual story. According to Adams (1990), "repeated reading of sentences and passages are found to produce marked improvement in children's word recognition, fluency, and comprehension" (92-93). Therefore, the goal of this lesson is to provide students with repeated readings of texts to become more fluent readers. By having the students read and reread decodable words in connected texts, students will gain automatic word recognition which will aid students in their journey toward becoming fluent readers.

- partner check sheet (1 per student)
- pencil
- timer (1 per pair of students)
- speed reading sheet (1 per student)
- student copies of Jane and Babe by Shelia Cushman and Rona Kornblum (Educational Insights, 1990)

Speed Reading Record
 Name _________________                                                                    Date ___________________

 The 1st read took me _______

 The 2nd read took me_______

 The 3rd read took me _______

Partner Check Sheet
Name _____________                                                             My partner was _________________

 As I listened to my partner read s/he
   After the 2nd read          After the 3rd read
       _________                   _________                             remembered more words

       _________                   _________                             read faster

       _________                   _________                             read smoother

       _________                   _________                             read with expression

1.  Introduce the purpose of the lesson.
Today we are going to practice reading words with as few mistakes as we can in the shortest amount of time; we call this "fluency". I am going to show you an example.  Read the first sentence of Jane and Babe very slowly.  Bab - babe - stays - in - his - caj- cage. How did that sound? My words didn't flow together very well because I read too slowly and I missed a few words.  Let's see if I can make it sound better. Read it again but faster.  Did that sound better?  What did I do differently?  That's right, I read it faster.  Let's see if I can do it even better.  Reread the sentence using speed, fluency, and expression.  That time, I read the sentence quickly and my words flowed together smoothly. I was reading with fluency. Also, did you notice how my voice went up and down as I read certain words?  That is called expression.

Review the cover up strategy for their reading. During your reading, you may come across some words that you cannot read right away. A strategy that we can use to help decode the word is to use our coverup buddy. Write the word thump on the board. Model how to use coverup buddy (plain popsicle stick with eyes glued on) to decode difficult words. When you come across a tough word use the coverup buddy to cover up parts of the word so you can sound it out.  Cover up all the letters except the u and sound out the sound of the short u=/u/.  Then I am going to look at the letters leading up to the vowel, th=/th/. Finally I will focus on the m=/m/ and the p=/p/.  So I am going to look at just the vowel, and I know that the short u makes and /u/ sound, remember like the tugboat.  Next, I am going to look at the letters leading up to the vowel, so th=/th/ so I have /th//u/ and finally I look at the end of the word, so /m/ and /p/, so /th//u//m//p/.  So now when you come across a tough word, remember your cover up buddy.

Explain to students what they will do in the lesson. Today we are going to work reading fluency. To help us do this, we will read the same book three times. Each time that we read it, we will become more familiar with the words which will help us to read fluently.

Divide class into pairs. Give each pair a copy of
Jane and Babe, as well as two speed reading record sheets (1 for each student) and a partner check list (1 for each student). Allow one pair of students to act out the directions as you give them.  For this activity, each of you will have the job of being the reader and the listener. One of you will read while the other, times how long it takes you to read the book. If you are the person using the timer, you press this button as soon as your partner begins reading, this starts the counting. As soon as they finish, you press the button again to stop the counting and allow your partner to write down the number that's on the timer. That number tells us how long it took them to read the story. Now the second time they read, it will be a little different. You will start and stop the timer just like you did the first time, you will also let them write down their time, but this time you will fill out your partner check sheet after they finish. If they remember more words you put a check; if they read faster, you put a check. Only if they did it can you put a check, nothing else. You will also do this after the third time your partner reads. After the third read, you swap positions. If you were reading first, you are now in charge of the timer, and if you used the timer first, you are now reading.

5. Give book talk on
Jane and Babe. Jane is a zoo keeper and her favorite animal is Babe. Babe is a very sleepy lion. Jane wants to play with Babe, but he will not wake up. Jane tries and tries to wake up Babe. Will Jane every get Babe to wake up and play? You will have to read to find out!

6. Allow students proper time to complete the three reads and fill out the necessary papers.


The students will each bring me their Speed Reading Record and partner checklist. I will perform one minute reads with each child to check for fluency and accuracy.  I will also evaluate their speed reading record and partner checklist.

- Adams, Marilyn J. (1990). Beginning
to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print. Center for the Study of Reading Research
and Education Center, 92-93.

- Cushman, S. & Kornblum, R. (1990). Jane and Babe. Educational Insights

- Marsden, Brigette. "Hurry, Off We Go!"

- Murray, Bruce. "Developing Reading Fluency."

- Young, Emily. "Race into Fluency."

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