You Can’t Hear Me!

Growing Independence and Fluency
Gina Reynolds

A very important part of reading fluency is the ability to read without saying the words out loud.  As teachers, we need to explain to our class that reading out loud is a good idea when you are reading to a group, but that most of the time in life we will need to read silently to ourselves.  In these times, it will only be important that we understand what we are reading. Silent reading increases reading comprehension as the students practice advanced decoding skills. It also reinforces reader motivation as the reader learns to associate the silent reading time as a positive, enjoyable experience. This lesson will provide students with practice reading silently by allowing them to read and reread decodable text until they achieve this.

Class set of the book Polly’s Shop by B. Grout, Modern Curriculum Press, 1996.
Chart with the sentence “Her cat ran in the den.” and “I like to kick the ball with him.”
Silent Reading checklist for each student (see format below)


Explain to students the importance of reading silently. Now that we have become such good readers out loud, we are going to learn how to read silently to ourselves.  This is an important skill to learn since it is not always polite or appropriate to read every word out loud.

with students the strategy of using cover-ups to decode words. Show the words cash on the board. Cover up all but the vowel and read the sound /a/. Then uncover the first letter to read /ca/. Last, uncover the last two letters to read cash.

Explain how
students can use silent reading. Who can tell me what the number one rule in the public library is? That’s right – to be quiet! If you want to go to the library to read books, would you be able to read out loud so that everyone could hear you? No! You would have to read the book to yourself. You would also have to read silently if you wanted to read in our class after you have finished an activity but  others are still working.  Today, we are going to learn how to be polite readers who can read silently to themselves by practicing re-reading text until we reach that level.

to students how to read the sentence “Her cat ran into the den.” First, I will read this sentence out loud. “Her cat rrr…” I don’t know what this word is, so I will use cover-ups to read it. I know that a says /a/ and I know that r says /r/.  Let me try to put those together.  /r/a/.  And I know that n says /n/.  So, let me see if I can put all of those sounds together.  /r/a/n/. Oh, that says ran.  “Her cat ran in the den.” Now I will try reading this in a softer voice. (Read sentence). Now I will read this sentence in a whisper (Read sentence). Now I will read this sentence just moving my lips. (Read sentence). Now here’s the last step. I can read this sentence silently. Also, it is important for me to think about if I understand what I have just read in my head. What did the cat do? He ran in the den.

Simple practice
will involve the students reading another sentence on the board (I like to kick the ball with him). As a class, follow the same steps used above in modeling to read this sentence (out loud, in a softer voice, in a whisper, moving their lips, and finally silently).

Whole texts
used will be Polly’s Shop. Provide each student with a copy. Have students try reading the book silently. If they have trouble, instruct them to use the method taught above to try to achieve silent reading.

will be in the form of a checklist. Make observations of each student while they read and mark the following.

___Reads aloud

___Reads in a whisper

___Reads while moving lips

___Reads silently

Answer 3 questions for reading comprehension:

1. Whose shop is the book about? (Polly’s)
2. What is the problem in Polly’s shop? (All of the items are mixed together)
3. What did the boy and his dad want to buy? (a rug)


Fleming, Nell.  Please Read Politely.
Grout, B. Polly’s Shop. Modern Curriculum Press: Parsippany, NJ. (1996)
Schaum, Susan. “Now you hear me, now you don’t!”


Return to Innovations