Sweet Potato Pie Goes Fast

Amber Farrulla
Rationale:  This lesson allows children to increase reading fluency through repetition.  Adams states that “the single most striking characteristic of skillful readers is the speed and effortlessness with which they can breeze though text (Adams, 17.)”  Children should be encouraged to use the cover up method when they can not sound the word out because fragments of the word should be familiar.  Repeated readings are also important because re-reading allows children to improve word recognition, fluency, and comprehension.    


1.  “Yesterday we reviewed all the vowel sounds.  Who can tell me all the vowels in the alphabet?  Good, a, e, i, o, u.  Can anyone tell me what a short and long ‘a’ sounds like?  Good, /a/ and /A/.”  Teacher repeats asking children about the sounds of each vowel.  “Today we are going to talk about fluency.  Does anyone know what the word fluency means?  It means to read smoothly, quickly, and to understand what you read.  Today we are going to work on reading fluently.  Why do you think it is important to read fluently?  Good, so you can remember what you read.  

2.  “I am going to read two sentences off the board.  First, I am going to read slow and choppy.  Ready?  D-a-vy w-w-e-nt t-to Af-r-ic-a.   Does anybody know where Davy went?  No, it is hard to remember what you read when you read slow and choppy.  Listen to the last sentence.  I am going to read it with fluency.  His father was going to catch an animal for the circus.  What is Davy’s father going to do?  Catch an animal for the circus.  Good job.   

3.  “When we read do we always know the words?  No.  What can we do when we do not know a word and we are stuck?  We can take a shot.  Cover up part of the word to make it easier to sound out. Next, we can read the rest of the sentence to see if we decoded the word correctly.  Then we can change our guess to make it fit the sentence.  Finally, we read the sentence over.  Why do we need to read the sentence over?  That’s right, to get back into the story.  Let’s look at a sentence on the board.  I will read it.  Do you want a /o/ /do/ /dog/?  Do you want a dog?  Yes, I think that sounds right.  Do you want a dog?  

4.  “I want everybody to get with their reading partners.” Reading partners should already be designated.  Teacher passes out timing paper, stop watches, and pencils to each group. “We are going to practice reading quickly and fluently.  Each person will read Sweet Potato Pie.  While the first person reads the book the second person times the reading for one minute.  When the first person is done reading I want the timer to count the number of words that your team member read.  I want you to write it on the timer paper in block one.  Then I want the same person to reread the book.  The timer records the second reading in block two.  After the first person has read the book twice, I want you to switch roles.  Each person will read the book twice and each person will be the timer and word counter twice.  Does anybody have any questions?  Good.  You may begin.  Remember what to do when you are stuck on a word.”       

5.  Assessment:  Teacher calls each student up to her desk.  “I want you to read Cat and Mouse.  I am going to time you just like your partner did.  I am going to count the number of words you read.  Next, I am going to ask you some questions about the text.”  Each student reads with the teacher for one minute.  The teacher counts the number of words the student read correctly.  Finally, the teacher asks the student questions about the text.  Sample questions include:  What were Mother Mouse and Mother Cat teaching their children about?  Answer:  the world. Where did Cat and Mouse meet?  Answer:  a green meadow.              
*While assessing each student have children read the end of Sweet Potato Pie, silently, at their desks.

Adams, Marilyn Jager.  Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print. Illinois (1990) p. 17 & 92.   

Bogacki, Tomek.  Cat and Mouse. Scholastic. New York, NY (1998).

Rockwell, Anne.  Sweet Potato Pie. Random House. New York (1996).

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