3, 2, 1… Blast-Off into Reading!

Growing Independence and Fluency

Allyson Houlton


            Once children have learned decoding and letter recognition, they can focus on becoming a more fluent reader. Fluency helps students in comprehending the text better, which is the ultimate goal for readers. Fluency, gained greatly from repeated readings, also allows students to read words automatically and to read with expression. When readers gain fluency and comprehension, their confidence gets a great boost and causes their love for reading to blast-off even more! This lesson will improve fluency through one minute reads, repeated readings, and timed readings.


-Individual copies of the book Polly’s Shop


-1 stopwatch for every 2 students

-Dry erase board and dry erase markers (for teacher)

-Speed Reading record (one for each student)

-Partner Check Sheet (one for each student)





Speed Reading Record:

                    Your Name: ___________        Partner’s Name: ___________   Date: ___________


               - After 1st read            __________

               - After 2nd read           __________

               - After 3rd read            __________





Partner Check Sheet:

         Your Name: ___________            Partner’s Name: _____________    Date: ________

As I listened to my partner read, he/she:

                                                                              After 2nd          After 3rd

                        1. Remembered more words         _______          _______

                        2. Read faster                                _______          _______

                        3. Read smoother                          _______          _______

                        4. Read with expression                _______          _______







1. Begin lesson by explaining to students the importance of becoming a fluent reader. “Today, students, we are going to be working on fluency, a very important part of reading. When you read fluently, you recognize words without any trouble and do not have to stop and sound out each word! To gain fluency, we must reread our books! Today, we are going to read and reread the same book over and see if we read it more quickly each time we read it! ”

2. “Before we read, let’s remember what to do if you come to a word that you are not familiar with.” (Write the word trucks on the dry erase board). “You will come across this word while reading Polly’s Shop, and you may have trouble with it. Let’s pretend I am reading the book and I am not sure how to pronounce this word. I will start by finding the vowel in the word and cover up the other letters. See, I will use my hands to cover the other letters up. I see that the vowel in this word is the ‘u’ which says /u/. Everyone point your finger to your head and say ‘uhhhh’, pretending you do not understand. Great job, this is the vowel in the word. Now I will look at the first letter which says /t/. Next, I will uncover the second letter which says /r/. Let’s put the first 3 letters together, we see that they say /tru/. Now, all we have to do is uncover the last two letters. We know that ‘ck’ says /ck/. When we blend /tru/ and /ck/ together, we know that the word is truck.”

3. Write the following sentence on the board: Bugs were mixed with rugs. “I will read the sentence written on the board aloud and you all pay very close attention to how I read it. Ready?” (Read the sentence slowly, lacking fluency). “Bbbugs were miiixed wiiith ruuugs. Did you notice how I read the sentence so slowly that it was hard for me to understand what it was about? Now, I am going to try reading the sentence again and remember how the words are said.” (Read the sentence with fluency). “Bugs were mixed with rugs. Awesome, that was so much easier to understand than the last time, wasn’t it! Do we understand how rereading a sentence a second or even third time can make it sound better and help us understand better? Rereading also helped me read the sentence much faster than the first time.”

4. “Now, everyone is going to get a copy of the book Polly’s Shop. In this book, Polly has a shop. She seems to be a tad bit disorganized. A few customers come into Polly’s Shop looking for certain things. Will the customers be able to find anything? Let’s read the book to find out! First, I want you all to read the book by yourselves.”

5. Next, students will break into groups of two. Each group will get a stopwatch and each student will be given a Speed Reading Record and a Partner Check Sheet. Each child will be instructed to read the book three times. The person that is not reading (the listener) will record the times of each reading on the Speed Reading Record. Explain to the students that each time they reread the book, they should try to read faster, smoother, and with expression because they will remember more words. The listener will fill out the Partner Check Sheet after the second and third readings. “Okay students; listen up while I explain exactly how to use the two forms. Let’s say that Annie is my partner. Annie will read the book the first time and I will start the timer when she begins reading. When she finishes the book, I will stop the timer. I will record on the line what the time is. Let’s say Annie finishes the book in 2 minutes and 25 seconds. I will write it like this on the line—2:35” (Model how to write the time on the sheet). “You will do the same after the second and third read. Also after the second and third time your partner reads the book to you, put checks on the check sheet. Pay attention to how many words your partner remembered, how much faster they read, if they read smoother, and which read they read with more expression. If Annie is my partner and she read with more expression the third time she read, I would put a check under ‘After 3rd’. If I thought that she read smoother on the second read, I would put a check under ‘After 2nd’. Does everyone understand? Great, get busy!”

6. Assessment: I will conduct one minute reads with each student individually to check for accuracy and fluency. I will also look over the Speed Reading Record and Partner Check Sheet that the students filled out.




-Grout, Beth and Chang, Heidi. Polly’s Shop. Parsippany, NJ. Modern Curriculum Press, 1996.

-Mathews, Pearson. Ready, Set, Read!


- Murray, Bruce.  Developing Reading Fluency. Auburn University Reading Genie Website


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