Potato Pie Goes Fast
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
- Chalk board with "Davy went
to Africa. His father was going to catch an animal for the
circus." and "Do you want a dog?"
- Typing paper for each
student (paper should have two sections on it)
- Pencils for each student
- Stop watch (one per group)
- Book: Sweet Potato Pie (one per
- Book: Cat and Mouse (two copies:
one for the teacher, one for the student being assessed)
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
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.”
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
*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).