Flying with Adam Raccoon

A Lesson Design for Growing Independence and Fluency

By Jessica Freeman

Rationale:  While learning to decode and blend letters together to read words is important, comprehension is the main goal of reading.  In order to comprehend text effectively, beginning readers must learn to read fluently and effortlessly.  Children gain these skills through practice in reading and rereading text.  This lesson is designed to give students the opportunity to practice reading and to inevitably produce skillful, fluent readers.   

Materials:  a copy (or printout copies) of “Adam Raccoon and the Flying Machine,” by Glen Keane for every student, chalkboard/whiteboard and chalk/dry erase marker, assessment chart (seen below)-one per student, and stopwatch or timepiece of some sort for every group of students, (optional:  pencil and paper for assessing comprehension).


1.    Begin by modeling the difference between fluent reading and now fluent reading.  Read a passage from the text.  “Boys and Girls, I am going to read to you.  Listen carefully!  H-i-gh a-bove the oak t-r-ees, S-a-m, the lit-tle spar-row, t-w-irl-ed and l-oo-ped-thr-ough the a-ir,” (be sure to sound very “choppy when reading).  “Now, boys and girls, did you notice anything unusual while I was reading this page?  Very good!  You couldn’t really understand me, could you?  Why not?  Is it because of the way I read?  You’re right.  Now let’s listen as I read it again.  High above the oak trees, Sam, the little sparrow twirled and looped through the air.  Could you understand me that time?  Good!  Do you know why you could understand the sentence better when I read it the second time?  Right, it’s because I read the words more smoothly and faster.  That is called reading with fluency and that’s what we will be practicing today.”

2.    Write a short sentence or two on the board for the students to practice fluent reading.  “Now let’s look at the board.  Everybody read this sentence together.”  Write a text from the book, or make up one.  For example, “Adam and Sam stood amazed at the many strange and wonderful things they saw.”  When everyone reads the sentence, it will sound choppy and all the words will sound as if they are running together. Bring this phenomenon to the students’ attention.  Go over each word with the students. Then go back and let the students practice reading the sentence to themselves to practice fluency.  “Okay, now that everyone has practiced reading this sentence.  Everyone read it again and make your words sound smooth, or fluent.  Very Good!  Did you notice how different that sentence sounds now that we have practiced it? When you read fluently, you understand what you read, and other people can understand as you read aloud to them.  That is why it is very important to practice reading.”

3.    Give an introduction to Adam Raccon and the Flying Machine.  “This is a book about a stubborn raccoon named, Adam.  He is trying to build a flying machine, but he does not want to follow the directions.  Every time he thinks that he has figured out how to make his machine fly, he crashes!  He later learns that he cannot do it without reading instructions.  Everyone read this book and find out what Adam decides to do and if his machine ever flies.”  Pass out copies of the textto each group of students. 

4.    Allow students time to briefly read and familiarize themselves with the text. 

5.    Place students in groups of two and have them work together.  The students will take turns doing one-minute-reads.  One student will be the reader while the other will be the timer, and then they will swap.  Each group will need a timepiece and a chart, Use check sheets for partner readings.  Begin by explaining what you'll be listening for.  Model fluent and non-fluent reading.  For example, show the difference between smooth and choppy reading.  Show how expressive readers make their voices go higher and lower, faster and slower, louder and softer.  The reader reads a selection three times.  The listener gives a report after the second and third readings.  The chart located at the bottom is helpful in peer assessments and can be found on the following link along with helpful tips in promoting fluency:  Explicitly explain the chart and what it is useful for.  Remember that check sheets should be positive and complimentary rather than negative.


6.    Assess the students by having them individually come to teacher’s desk and have the students read the book to you as you do a one-minute read.  Record each student’s time and chart his or her times on a graph.  As you test students have the other students re-read the text silently to further practice fluency.  (Lesson Extension idea:  the students may also be asked to answer a few questions or write a brief summary of the selection of the story to assess comprehension, which is the primary goal of reading.)



Keane, Glen. Adam Raccoon and the Flying Maching.  Chariot Books:  1989.

“One Your Mark, Get Set, Read!”, by Kristin Herren,

Reading Genie Website,

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