Growing Independence and Fluency: 
Go, Speed Reader!  Go!

 By:  Mari Manning


Rationale:  Children first learn to read by decoding words.  Beginning readers are slow to decode words.  Decoding usually requires some effort; beginning readers have to think about each word and its letters.  However, as beginning readers gain practice in decoding words, they can advance to independent readers.  Independent reading requires one to read effortlessly and automatically with fluency and accuracy.  Once children can read effortlessly and fluently, then they can focus more on the meaning of the text.  This lesson is designed to help students increase their fluency by rereading a text and becoming familiar with it.  During this lesson, children will learn what it means to read fluently, and they will have an opportunity to practice reading fluently.  They will also discover that reading fluently helps them gain more meaning from the text and learn to recognize words automatically.  After the lesson, the students will have practice in and an understanding of reading with fluency.  They will be able to use a strategy to increase fluency in their independent reading. 



  1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that in order to become better readers, we must begin to read fluently.  "Fluency or reading fluently, means reading faster, automatically, and effortlessly.  Once we learn how to read fluently, we will be able to understand the text more because we will not have to try so hard to read the words.  One way to become more fluent in reading is to read the same story more than once, reading faster each time because we become more familiar with the book.  Another way of saying this is rereading.  Today we are going to practice reading with fluency by rereading a book.  First, let's review how we can figure out a word that we may not already know.  The first thing we should do is use the cover-up technique.  Remember when we practiced this?  For example, if we were stuck on the word must, the first thing we would do is cover up everything but the vowel, u.  The u makes the /u/ sound.  Then we would uncover the first letter, m.  The m makes the /m/ sound.  We would combine the sounds together to get /mu/.  Next we would uncover the next letter after the vowel, s.  The s makes /s/.  We would combine all the sounds again and get /mus/.  Finally, we would uncover the last letter, t.  The t makes /t/ sound.  We would combine all the sounds and get the word must.  Also, remember that we can also crosscheck.  This is where we read on to the end of the sentence and figure out what would make sense.  Does everyone understand?  Good!  Now let's move on to become better readers."  (Teacher will write must on the board and demonstrate how to use the cover-up technique to figure out the word).
  2. Demonstrate to the students the difference between reading with fluency and reading without fluency.  Say to students:  "I am going to show you how to read with and without fluency.  Listen to my reading and see if you can tell me the difference.  I am going to write a sentence on the board.  I am going to read it twice, once with fluency and once without."  (Teacher writes sentence on board -The cat ran up a tree.)  Teacher reads sentence through once without fluency, sounding out each word:  "The   c-a-t   r-a-n   u-p   a   t-r-ee.  Notice that I read the sentence slowly.  It is very hard to understand the sentence when I do not recognize the words in it.  I have to spend most of my effort sounding out the words, not understanding them.  Now listen to me read it again with fluency.  The cat ran up a tree.  What did you notice about the second reading of the sentence?  Very good!  I read it a little faster because I recognized the words from the first time I read them.  It was also easier for me to understand the sentence because I did not have to spend so much time sounding out the words.  The words flow together.  This is what we will be practicing today.  I want you to be able to read by yourself just like I did."  
  3. Give students a chance to practice.  "Now, I want us to practice reading with fluency.  We are going to practice by reading a story called Sam the Garbage Hound.  This story is about a dog named Sam.  Sam lives in a dump.  He eats whatever he can find in the dump, and he sleeps wherever he can find a comfortable place to sleep.  It was fun for a while, but Sam started to get lonely.  One day, a little girl and her mother came to the dump to drop off some trash.  The little girl saw Sam and loved him.  Will she get to take him home with her?  We will have to read to find out."
  4. Teacher passes out a copy of the book to each student.  "Now, I want you to practice reading this book on your own.  I will give you a few minutes to read the book to yourself.  Remember the strategies we talked about that will help you figure out a word if you get stuck.  Once you read it through once, if you still have time, read it through again.  At the end, I will ask you a few questions about the story to see if you understood what you read."  Have the children read to themselves for a few minutes.  They may reread the story if they finish in time.  The teacher will walk around, helping children use the strategies if they need help and monitoring their reading.
  5. When the students are finished, the teacher will ask them questions to see if they were able to focus on meaning.  Teacher will ask:  What did Sam do for fun at the dump?  Why was Sam lonely?  What happened that changed Sam's life?  Is he still lonely?  Teacher will ask comprehension questions and allow students to respond for a few minutes.  Teacher will allow students to reflect and comment on how reading with fluency helps with comprehension.
  6. Teacher will divide the students into partners.  Teacher will explain how to fill out a fluency checklist for a partner.  The checklist will include:  I noticed that my partner – remembered more words, read faster, read smoother, read slowly, stopped many times, and did not stop at all during reading (after 2nd and 3rd reading).  For the next few minutes, the students will read with their partner, assessing fluency.  Each partner will read the story aloud all the way through once.  On the second and third reading, the partner listening will fill out a fluency checklist on the student's reading.  The listening partner will check all that apply to the reading partner's fluency in reading.  The partners will take turns with each other reading and filling out the checklist. 
  7. For assessment, teacher will call each student up to her desk and have him or her read the book aloud.  Teacher will do a one-minute assessment of student's reading with fluency.  Teacher will make a note of each student's progress (page number, word, etc.) and test it periodically each week to check for improvement in fluency.  Teacher could also keep a chart of students' words per minute as they practice reading with fluency.  These charts can be posted in the classroom.


Bennett, Shelley.  Speed Read.

 Simon, Charnan.  Sam the Garbage Hound.  New York:  Scholastic.  1996.

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