Growing Fluency Lesson Design



Jamie Sanford


Rationale:  The goal of fluency is effortless word recognition as well as reading expressively and voluntarily.  Without fluency, the student's reading is choppy, which can affect his/her comprehension of the text.  The formula for fluency is to read and reread decodable words in connected text.  This lesson is designed to help build fluency in the students' reading.  They will learn how to read fluently as I explain and model the process.  Then, they will practice those fluency techniques as they prepare to perform a play to the Reader's Theater Script of Miss Nelson is Missing!


Materials:  Book:  Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard and James Marshall, published by Houghton Mifflin, 1977; Reader's Theater Script of text (enough copies for each student (it's a good idea to split up longer parts such as the narrator's part into Narrator 1, 2, etc.)) [Note:  the script will have to be created by the teacher.  When creating the script, list all of the characters and make sure that each character in the book is included, then type the text of what each character should say in addition to how the character should say it and any other action notes necessary. Longer texts can be shortened by omitting parts that aren't essential to the storyline.]; optional:  nametags on yarn; silent reading checklist (_voicing, _whisper, _lips only, _silent); optional:  timer (for one minute reads).



  1. Introduce lesson by explaining that fluency is important because it allows us to read effortlessly and to understand the text more easily.  Today, we're going to practice being fluent readers and then perform a play for the class.
  2. Review reading speed.  Read a sentence from the book very slowly and without expression, decoding each word as you read.  Say:  Can any of you tell me what the sentence that I read was talking about?  When we read a sentence too slowly, then it's hard for us to understand or even remember what we just read.  Read the same sentence very quickly and without expression.  Say:  Did any of you understand what the sentence was about that time?  When we read a sentence too quickly without paying attention to the words, then it's also hard for us to understand or remember what we just read.  Read the text at the appropriate, moderate speed, paying close attention to the text and reading with expression.  Say:  Now, can you tell me what the sentence was talking about?  If we take the time to read at a speed that is not too fast or not too slow, and focus on each of the words in the sentence so that we can read with expression, then the story makes more sense. 
  3. Explain to the students how to read silently.  Read sentence from book aloud.  Say:  This is called reading aloud--we usually do this when reading to someone else or practicing for a play.  Read sentence in whisper--we use our whisper voices when we are reading to the teacher or a friend and trying not to disturb others.  But what we want to practice today is reading in our heads without talking.  You might start out moving your lips without letting the words come out [model this for them], but eventually we want to try to read only in our heads without even moving our lips.
  4. Say:  Today we are going to put on a play to a story that we have read before called Miss Nelson is Missing!  Say:  How many of you remember this story from last time?  Have the students tell details from the book by asking the following questions:  Who were the main characters?  Where did the story take place?  What happened at the beginning of the story?  What happened in the middle of the story?  What happened at the end of the story?  [Pass out scripts and nametags for the characters if you have them; otherwise, allow time to select parts].  Remember, we are going to practice reading silently as we go over the parts that we have chosen. 
  5. Have students practice reading their scripts silently first.  As they are reading, walk around the classroom and do a silent reading checklist on each of the students. 
  6. When the students have had ample time to read the scripts and you've done a checklist on all of the students, allow the students to practice their parts in front of the class.  Before the practice run-through, remind the students of the importance of reading with expression.  Read a sentence from the book in monotone.  Say:  That's what you call reading with no expression.  Then reread the sentence with expression.  That's what you call reading with expression.  See the difference in reading without expression and reading with expression.  Let's try to remember to read with expression as we're practicing our parts.  Allow the students to do a practice run-through 1 or 2 times, and then have them do the actual performance.
  7. For assessment, the teacher can simply use the silent reading checklist that was done on each student.  Another good assessment is to do a one minute read with each of the students.  [If doing a one minute read, be sure to use the actual book rather than the script].  Otherwise, it's a good idea to simply take anecdotal notes of each of the student's reading (Are they reading fluently--what areas need improvement?) as they perform the play so that you can remember the areas that each student is struggling/excelling in so that you can plan for future lessons.



For more information on how to develop reading fluency, visit the Reading Genie website:


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