Get on the Reading Fast Track!!!
Katie Naylor

Rationale:  When students first begin to read, they have to decode letters in order to sound out or pronounce the words.  In order for them to begin to comprehend what they are reading, they have to develop reading fluency, which is the ability to accurately, rapidly, and automatically recognize words.  Repeated reading is a good way for students to go from just being able to decode a word to recognizing it automatically and then beginning to understand its meaning in the text.
Materials:  Book of a child's choice that is on their independent reading level (either from a trip to the library or from some books the teacher has selected); a book of the teacher's  choice that can be read aloud to the class (for younger children, use a big book; stopwatch  (if desired; see assessment notes.)
Procedures:
1) Model fluent reading to the class.  "Boys and girls, today I am going to read a book to you, and I am going to ask you some questions about the story when I finish."  (Begin by reading the story very choppy, and pronouncing words like "brother" as "br-o-ther.")  After you've read the story, ask some questions about it.  The children probably won't know the answers to the questions, because they won't be able to comprehend much of the story for the way you are reading it.  If they tell you they didn't understand much of the story, ask them why not, and then ask them to help you by making some suggestions as to how you could read the story in a way they could understand you.  Guide them into suggesting things like, "Read the words all together" or "Change your voice to show different things happening," etc.
2) "I'm so glad you helped me decide some things I could do to read this book in a way you would enjoy it and be able to understand what is happening.  I know that some of you don't enjoy reading sometimes, maybe because you don't understand what is happening in the story.  There are some things you can do to make reading more fun and enjoyable, and we are going to talk about those things in a minute, but first I'm going to take your suggestions and read this book again for you in a way that might be more fun and easier to understand.  Listen for some things I do differently this time, and we'll talk about it after I read."  (Reread the book with fluency and expression.)
3) Discuss with the students the ways in which your reading was different, and ask them some questions about the story, which they should be able to answer this time.  Discuss with them how to read with fluency and expression, by reading with appropriate speed, and using vocal changes like louder at times, softer at times, etc., to illustrate what it happening in the story.  Go over strategies of how to read a word you don't know, like covering up part of the word to try to decode it, and then, if you still don't know the word, read the rest of the sentence, and go back to see if you can figure out what word would belong there according to what the rest of the sentence is about.  Be sure to emphasize the importance of NOT skipping words in a passage just because you don't recognize it.
4) "Now that you've seen by my reading how much easier and more enjoyable it is to read once you read words smoothly, with a good speed, and with expression, we're going to take a trip to the library, and I want you to pick out a book that you like so that we can practice reading in the way that we talked about."  (Take the class to the library, or let them choose from books you've selected.  Make sure the books are on their independent reading level.)  "Now that you have a book, I want you to find a place in the room where you are comfortable, and I want you to read your book to yourself four times.  The first time, you may need to cover up a word and read parts of it, or read the rest of the sentence and go back to that word.  After that, you should be able to read more quickly, and be able to better understand what the words mean.  After you've read it four times, you should be ready to read it aloud to someone else, and, since you'll know the words pretty well, you can add things like vocal expression to make it more enjoyable to your listener."  (Allow them time to read their books four times.)
5) "Boys and girls, I want you to choose a partner and read your book to them.  Then, switch, and let your partner read to you.  Try to read the book with as much expression as you can, and with a good speed so your partner doesn't get bored if you take a long time to read."  (Allow time for all the children to read their books to their partner.)
6) For assessment, have each child come up and read their book of choice to the teacher.  You may want to use a stopwatch to time their reading, or you may just decide to listen to their reading and check for fluency, expression, etc.  (If you time their reading, it is important for you to let them know that you are timing them to see if they are reading at a steady, consistent pace, but that the goal of reading is NOT to see how fast you can read.  It is to read at a pace that is steady, so that either the reader in silent reading or the audience in reading aloud can comprehend what is being read, and it is interesting to them.)
Reference:  The Reading Genie  (www.auburn.edu/rdggenie). (Growing in Independence and Fluency).
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