Fire! Fire! Fire!
Casey Fullilove
Growing Independence and Fluency


Rationale:  Fluency is a crucial part of reading.  Fluency is reading smoothly, accurately, automatically, and rapidly.  Young readers need to be fluent in order to improve comprehension.  Instead of spending time decoding individual words, a fluent reader recognizes and decodes words instantly, thus allowing comprehension and enjoyment.  One way to improve fluency is by having one minute timed readings.  The students can use a growth chart to better visualize their individual and class improvements. 


  1. Class set of Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia
  2. A typed and laminated excerpt from Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia with every line numbered with total number of words for each pair of students and for teacher.
  3. 4 feet of butcher paper or an actual growth chart for the class average chart
  4. Individual ladder charts with firemen hats and Velcro
  5. Paper and pencils for each student
  6. Stopwatch for every pair of students


1.  Introduce fluency to students by reading a sentence from Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia.  First read the sentence choppy and slow: "A-m-e-l-i-a   B-e-d-e-l-i-a   w-a-l-k-e-d   b-y   th-e   b-a-se-b-a-ll   f-i-e-l-d,"  then read it quickly with expression: "Amelia Bedelia walked by the baseball field."  Ask the students which sentence sounded better and which sentence was easier to understand.  Discuss that it is easier to understand and enjoy what you read when you can read it fast and smoothly.  Explain that in order to read smoothly, the students need to be able to automatically recognize words.  To do this, they first look at the vowel, then the beginning sound, and then the ending sound.  For example, if the word bat is not in the students' sight vocabulary, they would first look at the a=/a/, then /b/ to blend /b/ /a/, and finally add the ending sound to blend /b/ /a/ /t/, bat.  Use some practice words to blend, such as sit, fun, cap, and lock.

 2.  Give a book talk on Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia.  Begin by telling the class that we will be starting a new book called Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia.  Ask the students what kind of ball they like to play?  Do they like basketball, baseball, football, soccer, etc?  What sports do they enjoy that do not use balls?  Do they like track, gymnastics, or swimming?  When the baseball team's star player was out sick, they needed a new player.  Can Amelia Bedelia play baseball?  Will she help them beat the Tornadoes or will she cause them to lose?  Let's read to find out!

 3.  Give each student a copy of the book.  Allow them to read pages 5-14 silently to themselves.  While they are reading, pass out the laminated page, ladder chart and fireman hat to each student.  When they are done reading, put students in pairs and give a stopwatch to each pair.  Explain that while one student reads, the other will time them for a minute.  Model the activity and explain when the stopwatch gets to a minute, say "STOP."  Count the number of words that the reader read correctly.  Put the helmet on the ladder where the number of words is.  Each time they do it, their goal is to improve and move the helmet up the ladder.  Have each student write down the number of words they got each time on their own paper, which will be collected at the end of the lesson for the assessment.  Tell the students to switch jobs each time.  They will have a total of four reads each.  Collect the written sheets for assessment. 

 4.  Encourage the students to practice at home with their parents with any book that they like to read.   


Parrish, Peggy.  Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia. Scholastic. New York:1972.  64pgs.

Leighton Johnson "Speedy Monkeys"

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