Up, Up, Up The Banana Tree!

Katheryn Frey
Growing Independence and Fluency

In order for a child to reach his or her full reading comprehension potential, he or she must be able to read fluently. This involves the speed at which a student can read and the smoothness of their words.  When a child focuses all of their energy on decoding the words, reading becomes a slow chore. In this situation, there is little comprehension of the text because too much "brain power" is being dedicated to simply figuring out the words and there is not enough dedicated to think about the text itself. When a child is able to recognize words automatically, reading becomes a more positive experience.  This lesson works on fluency by having the child read and reread decodable words in a connected text.  This repetition helps the child to begin to recognize the words automatically.


-Chart with this poem on it:

My Dog Does My Homework, by Kenn Nesbitt

      My dog does my homework
      at home every night.
      He answers each question
      and gets them all right.

      There's only one problem
      with homework by Rover.
      I can't turn in work
      that's been slobbered all over.

-Sentence strips with various different sentences on them (all should be different – one per student)

Example sentences:

John and Allison took the truck to the grocery store to buy apples.
Three dogs ran and wagged their tails in the big green park.
My pet hermit crab pinched my brother on his nose.
The teacher screamed when Billy put a gross frog in the her drawer.
Robert lost his shoe when he ran through the pool of mud.
My mother gave me a banana and peanut butter sandwich for lunch.

-Laminated cutouts of a monkey and banana tree

-A stopwatch for every two students

-Sammy the Seal by Syd Hoff


1.    Today we are going to a strategy to help us read more quickly and smoothly. When you can read at a quick pace, you may find that you enjoy reading more because you can focus on the interesting stories instead of spending all of your time trying to figure out the words. So, lets talk about our strategy. First, listen to me read the poem on the chart. I am going to be a student who doesn’t know all of the words. [Read the poem as a beginning reader would- slowly, sounding out each word, etc.] It would be pretty hard for me to thinking about the meaning of that poem when reading it that way wouldn’t it? It’s actually a pretty funny poem, but I wouldn’t have even noticed that way, so let me try again. [Read the poem at a good pace, without stopping to decode words.] This time I remembered some of the words and I was able to read it much faster and smoother! Did you hear how much better that sounded? Rereading the sentence really helped, and it can help you too!

2.    Now that you know the strategy we’ll be practicing today, you may get with a partner. Once you’re with your partner, I am going to give each one of you a sentence strip with a different sentence on it. First, one of you should read the sentence aloud to your partner. Then read it aloud 4 more times. Notice the improvements that you and your partner make! After one partner is finished, have the other do the same thing.

3.    Next we are going to read a book! Stay in your pairs and I will give each pair a book. [Hand out Sammy the Seal to each pair.] This is the book we’re going to read. It’s about a seal, Sammy, who decides he wants to leave the zoo and go out into the city. Read to find out what happens when he leaves! While one of you reads, the other is will take a stopwatch and time you for one minute. [Demonstrate how to use the stopwatch.] You will read as many words as you can in that one minute. When the minute is up the partner with the stopwatch should have the reader stop. Then you will read as many words as you can, starting at the same place, for another minute. If you come to a word that you don’t know, try covering up parts of the word and going chunk by chunk or try to figure it out by reading the rest of the sentence and thinking about what would make sense. If you still need help, raise your hand after the minute is over and I will come and help you. Take turns doing this and write down on your charts how many words your partner gets in each minute you time. Look to see if you’ve had any improvement.

4.    After each minute count how many words you had and move your monkey a space up the tree if you’ve improved. When you get to the top, you will be finished and it will be your partner’s turn! Be sure to also write down your number of words on your chart to turn in!

Students will be assessed based on the charts they filled out during their repeated reading, which they will turn in at the end of the lesson. The instructor should also walk around and do an informal assessment by simply observing the student’s progress.


Hoff, Syd.  Sammy the Seal.  Harper Collins Publishers, 2000.

Murray, Bruce. Reading Genie Website. Developing Reading Fluency. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/fluency.html

Jayme Ebaugh - Flying to Fluency - http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/constr/ebaughgf.html

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