Get on the Fluency Boat

 to SAIL AWAY to

Any Book you want

Taylor Osborne
Growing Independence and Fluency



 Webster defines fluency as being “capable of moving with ease and grace, effortlessly smooth and rapid.” When a student can read with fluency, everything else falls into place.  When fluency is achieved, the reader has the talent to recognize words routinely and understand written text quicker than non-fluent readers.  There are three very significant skills needed to become a fluent reader: the ability to read faster, the ability to read smoother, and the ability to read more emotionally.  Repeated reading and dyad reading are two great ways for students to work on their reading fluency.  Rereading texts allows students to learn to read more words per minute. Working with partners allows students to learn new decoding skills, as well as giving them more practice reading.  The more students read, the more their reading skills will advance. The more their skills advance, the better they can read all the books that their hearts desire.




  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!  We’ll have to read the book to  find out what happens to them!  
  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. Give them a chance to express all their comments. Which was more fun to hear? Why? Which helped the story seem exciting? 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 student’s 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.

Laura Estill’s Sail into Reading Fluency

Click here to return to Innovations