Sail into Reading Fluency

Independence and Fluency
Laura Estill



Fluent readers have the skill to not only read faster than their non-fluent peers, but also to read smoother and with more expression.  When children are able to decode words effortlessly reading becomes much more enjoyable for them, increasing the time they spend reading. The goal of this lesson is to teach students how to speed up their reading as well as practice smooth reading with expression.  The lesson will involve reading and re-reading decodable text for one minute reads to give students the practice needed to learn to read faster.





  1. Begin the lesson by reviewing the a few correspondences.  For this book, review each of the correspondences for /A/ and /U/.  Ask the students to display their knowledge of these sounds by suggesting some words with these correspondences.
  2. Next, does a book talk for the book, Toad Eats Out?  This book is about a toad and it is his birthday!   He gets in the car and picks up his friend Bug, and they go to their favorite restaurant.  But, when they get there something really exciting happens!  To find out what happens when Toad and Bug get to the restaurant, let’s all read this book!
  3. Divide the students into pairs and have them buddy read the book together.
  4. When all of the students are done reading the book, read the first two pages aloud modeling how not to read, (without fluency and with no expression, big pauses between words, etc.)  “It’s my bir th d ay!  I can do what I want.  I want to eat in a rest au rant!”
  5. Next, read the same two pages aloud modeling how to read fluently and with expression. “It’s my birthday!  I can do what I want.  I want to eat in a restaurant!”
  6. Ask students to tell you what was different in the two ways of reading. Explain to the students the importance of reading with fluency and expression. “It is very important for us to read smoothly and use expression so that we will understand what we are reading and we will enjoy it.”
  7. Give each pair a stopwatch and two “sail into reading fluency” graphs.  Teach the students how to use the stopwatch.  Also, explain to the students how to do one minute reads.  The students should time each other reading the book for one minute.  At the end of the minute, the student should count up the words and move the sail boat to indicate how fast the reading was in words per minute.  Also, each student needs to record the time on his/her paper.   Have the students switch and time each other.  Make sure the students do at least 3 timings.
  8. For assessment, collect each of the students papers and compare their first and last timings to see if their fluency has improved.


Schade, Susan and Buller, Jon.  Toad Eats Out. Random House, 1995.

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