RATIONALE:  In order for students to read fluently, they need to be able to read quickly, expressively, and smoothly.  Once students are able to decode effortlessly, they are able to enjoy reading much more because they can focus more on the story than on decoding the words.  To improve fluency, students need to have repeated direct practice with texts.  This lesson is aimed at helping students read expressively, smoothly, and quickly.



·        Book The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch (one copy per student or pair of students)

·        Rubric (one per student)

·        Stopwatches (one per pair of students)

·        Markers/crayons

·        Board and chalk




1.  Review cover-ups with students:  “Who remembers what we do when we come to a word we don’t know?  That’s right!  We use cover-ups.  Does everyone remember how we do that?  Let’s review.  Let’s say we have the word snatch (write the word on the board).  We would cover-up everything but the a in the word like this (show the students how you cover the word).  We know that a makes the /a/ sound.  Alright, then we look at what comes before the vowel (uncover that part of the word) sn=/sn/.  Now we blend them together to get /sn/ /a/.  Now look at the end of the word (uncover the rest) tch=/ch/.  Put it all together and we get /sn/ /a/ /ch/.  Whenever you see a word you don’t know, use this strategy.”


2. Explain fluency to students:  “When we read and reread a text many times, we are able to read it quickly and smoothly.  Every time we read the same book, we get better at reading it.  Now I will read a sentence from the story we are about to read, The Paper Bag Princess.  It’s a funny story about a girl named Elizabeth who is a princess.  She has beautiful dresses, a wonderful castle, and a prince named Ronald.  The only problem is a dragon comes, smashes her castle, burns her clothes, and carries off her prince!  What will Elizabeth do?!  We’re about to read to find out.  But first, let’s listen to how I read this sentence the first time.  ‘Eliz-a-elizabeth is a b-beau-beautiful p-prin-princess.’  Ok, when I read that, I was not reading fluently.  It sounded odd and was hard to understand.  Now I’m going to read it again – listen to the difference.  (Read the sentence smoothly and quickly) ‘Elizabeth is a beautiful princess.’  Now that’s fluent reading.


3. Explain cross-checking to students:  “It is important for fluent readers to read fast.  But it is also important that they understand what they read.  Cross-checking is a great way for making sure what we read makes sense.  (Write sentence on the board: The cat played with the yarn)  If we read the sentence very quickly and accidentally read it ‘The can played with the yarn’ we would need to use cross-checking to see that this does not make sense.  A can can’t play with yarn.  We would look at the sentence again and see that can should have been cat.  Ohhh…. The CAT played with the yarn!”


4.  Place students in pairs:  “Alright, now I am going to pair you up with another student (you should already have students paired; provide each student with a stop-watch, markers or crayons, two rubrics, and a copy of the book).  First you and your partner will read the whole book together.  Then I want one of you to read the book again and the other person should time the reader.  The timer should start the stop-watch as soon as the reader starts reading.  When you reach one minute, stop the stop watch and count how many words the reader read.  Write this down on the rubric.  Color up to the number of words you read with your marker or crayon.  Then have the other person read and do the same thing.  Each person should be timed 2 times and this should be written on the rubric.  If there aren’t any questions, let’s get started!”


5.  Assessment:  Ask each student to come up and do a one-minute read with you.  You can ask the student questions at the end to see how well they comprehended the story.  Such questions might be “who destroyed Elizabeth’s castle?”, “how did Elizabeth outsmart the dragon?” or “how did Ronald act when Elizabeth came up to save him?”  Your questions will probably vary depending on how far each student got in their reading. 



 I noticed that my partner…

 After 2nd                       After 3rd Reading


                                                                                    Remembered more words


                                                                                    Read faster


                                                                                    Read smoother


                                                                                    Read with expression



Munsch, Robert.  The Paper Bag Princess.  New York:  Annick Press Ltd., 1980.


Roehm, Sara.  “Go Speed Racer!”


Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Teach decoding: why and how.  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Education, Inc.

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