Read with Speed!




by Hope McClanahan

Growing Independence and Fluency Lesson



            In order for children to become expert readers, they have to develop fluency in their reading.  Fluency involves reading faster, smoother, and with more expression.  One of the first steps in developing fluency is learning to recognize words effortlessly and automatically.  This lesson will help students to begin to read faster through repeated readings and one-minute reads.





  1. Begin by saying, “We have been working on skills to help us become better readers.  Today, we are going to talk about something called fluency.  Fluency is when we can read words faster and smoother, so that it makes the stories that we read more interesting.”
  2. “Let’s start by talking about some of the things that we have learned that we can do if we get stuck on a word.  Who can tell me what the first thing we do is?  That’s right!  We use cover-ups.” (List #1 on the board and write Use cover-ups.)  “So if I had this word (cape) in my story, and I couldn’t figure it out, I would cover up all of the letters except for the vowel.  Let’s see…the vowel is a.  I need to see if there is an e on the end, because I know that the e tells the vowel to say its own name.  Oh…yep, there’s an e, so I know the a says /A/.  Now I need to look at the letters before the a.  I know that c says /k/…so far I have /k/-/A/-ka.  Now I need to add the sounds that come after the vowel.  I know that p says /p/, and I know that the e must be silent, because he’s just helping the a to say its name.  So I have /k/-/A/-/p/…cape!  Do we all remember that this is what the cover-up strategy is?  Okay, so that’s the first thing we can try if we can’t figure out a word.”
  3. “Who can tell me what the other strategy that we can try is, if we can’t figure a word out using cover-ups?  That’s right!  We can use cross-checking!”  (Write #2 on the board, and write Use Crosschecking.)  “Who remembers what cross-checking is?”  (Write the sentence The dog ate his food on the board.)  “I might read this sentence like this if I didn’t know the word food.  The dog /a/-/t/ his food.  Wait, but that doesn’t make sense!  Let me go back and read it again.  The dog at his food…Oh! The dog ate his food!  This is how we cross-check.  We go back and read the sentence again to make sure it makes sense.”
  4. “Now, we are going to talk about how to read fluently.”  (Write the sentence She gets in the cage on the board.)  “I am going to read this sentence two times for you.  I want you to all listen closely and pay attention to how I read.  S-h-sh-ee j-e…g-e-t-s…gets i-n the c-a-g…ca-j…cage.  Now I’ll read it again.  She gets in the cage.  Which time sounded better?  That’s right…the second time sounded a lot better!  Why?  Yes, because I read it a lot faster!  So you could understand what I read a lot better…couldn’t you?”
  5. “So we can see that we understand what we read a lot better when we can read faster.  I am going to give everyone a book to read, called Jane and Babe.  This book is about a lion name Babe and his trainer named Jane.  One day, Jane gets into the cage with Babe and tries to wake him up.  What do you think will happen when she tries to wake up a lion?!  You’ll have to read to find out!”  (Pass out copies of Jane and Babe to every two students.)
  6. “Before we start reading this great story, look at the pieces of paper on your desks.  This is a fluency check list.  We are going to take turns reading in partners.  You are each going o read the story to your partner 3 times.  On the 2nd and 3rd time that your partner reads to you, I want you to mark the boxes to show what your friend has improved on since the time that he or she read to you before.  You are going to mark if he or she remembers more words, reads faster, reads smoother, or reads with more expression.  Remember, we are only going to say nice things to our partners about how their reading has improved.”
  7. “What do you think is going to happen each time we read the story to our partners?  Do you think we will start to be able to read it faster?  I bet you’re right!  Let’s see.  Okay, everyone start reading to your partner.  Don’t forget to read it three times.”
  8. For assessment, have each child come up to your desk as the other children read books of their choice independently.  Do a “one-minute read” with each child.  Have the child read Jane and Babe to you three different times, and each time, use a stopwatch to see how many words the child reads in one minute.  This, along with the fluency check lists, will show me whether the children are making progress towards faster and more fluent reading each time they read.





Bright, Amy.  Home Run Reader.


Jane and Babe. Educational Insights, Carson CA., 1990.

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