Polite Readers

Growing Independence and Fluency
Anna Beth Sanders

Rationale: One of the keys to independent reading and fluency is silent reading.  It is important for children to choose their own book to read, as well as learn to read the book to themselves.  By doing this, children will not only read more voluntarily, but they will also gain comprehension skills.  If children are allowed to choose their own material to read then they will see reading as fun, instead of something they are forced to do. This will influence children to take the initiative to sit down and read a book silently more often. In this lesson, children will learn the importance of silent reading, and practice silent reading. Peer discussion of books leads to a better attitude about reading.  The children will choose their own book, using a test to find a book on their independent reading level.  Then the children will be given time to read the book and discuss the book with peers.


Materials:  self-chosen book for each student, reading journal for each student, Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (Junie B. Jones Series #1) by Barbara Park (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus is one example of a second grade independent reading level book.), and a clock or watch, chalk board, chalk, sentence: The bird is in her nest.



  1. Prior to this lesson, take the class to the library.  Have each student pick out a book on their independent reading level. Have them use the 2 finger test to choose a book.  To do this, the student holds up 2 fingers.  Then they begin to read a page from the book, each time they do not know a word on the page, they put down one finger. If at the end of the page they have put down both fingers, the book is too hard to be considered on their independent reading level.
  2. Introduce the lesson by asking the students to name times and places they must be quiet.  "Sometimes we need to be quiet. We must be quiet so we will not disturb others. It is important to always be polite to others.  Can someone tell me a time or place that you need to be quiet?"
  3. "Good.  It is also important to be quiet when we are trying to read as a class.  If everyone reads out loud, we cannot concentrate on our own reading.  Let's try it out.  Everyone get out the book you got from the library and begin reading (teacher reads aloud Junie B. Jones, in a very loud voice)."
  4. After 30 seconds, stop the children.  Ask them if they could read with all the noise. "OK, everyone stop reading and put your book down.  Now could anyone read their book very well with all the noise in the classroom?  I know I couldn't."
  5. "When we first started reading, we had to sound all of the words we read. But, now we know many words, and we don' have to sound out every word. Because we are now all great readers, we can read silently to our selves. To read silently you read, but do not say the words out loud. Watch me, watch how my eyes move as I read the text (Model silent reading with an emphasis on eye movement). Now let's all try to read silently (Teacher models by reading Junie B. Jones silently)."
  6. After 30 seconds stop the children. Ask them if they could read better this time in the quiet classroom. 
  7.  Remind the students to use cover ups and cross checking if they come to a word they don't know.  This way the room will stay quiet.  "Now remember if you come to a word you don't know, use a cover up and cross checking to figure out the word.  This way the room will stay quiet while everyone is reading. Remember how to do a cover up?  When you come to a word you don't know, first figure out the vowel sound, then blend the beginning sound, and then the last sound.  After you figure out the word, crosscheck by rereading the whole sentence to make sure the word makes sense.  Let's do an example, (write on the board: The bird is in her nest) here is a sentence we are trying to read (Read "the" begin to struggle with bird) I don't know this word, I will try a cover up, I see i=/i/ in themiddle, and b=/b/ in the beginning so that is /bi/ and then I see rd, (sound out beard) I think this word is "beard" let me check. (Read: The beard is in her nest)  That does not make sense, but the word " bird" does, this word must be bird. Now I reread the whole sentence, The bird is in her nest, and that makes sense. See I figured the word out all by myself."
  8. Allow the children 15 minutes to practice silent reading.  Make sure to read silently yourself during this time to serve as a model for the children. "Now we are all going to practice reading silently.  I am going to read Junie B. Jones, and you all will read the books you chose at the library.  I will let you know when silent reading time is up.  After you read, you will have to make an entry in your reading journal, so be sure to read for the entire time. Remember to be a polite reader, so read silently. Is everyone ready? Begin reading." (If children are not reading silently remind them to be a polite reader.)
  9. After the 15 minutes, have the children write in their reading journal. (This allows individual assessment) Allow the children to choose their entry:  alternate ending to the book, story sequence chart, story summary, or personal reaction to the story.
  10. After journal time, pair the children up.  Let the students discuss the book they read with their partner.
  11. While the peer discussion takes place, check the students' journals. Check for signs of comprehension. The number of details will indicate the level of comprehension. If there is little detail, the student probably did not comprehend much of the text.  If there is a large amount of detail, the student probably reached a high level of comprehension.

Eldredge, J.Lloyd.  (1995).  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  New Jersey:  Prentice Hall, Inc.

Lipscomb, Randi.  Quiet as a mouse http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/discov/lipscombgf.html

Murray, B.A.  "Developing Reading Fluency."  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/fluency.html

Park, Barbara.  Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (Junie B. Jones Series #1) New York; Random House Incorporated, 1992.

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