5, 4, 3, 2, 1  Blast off to Reading

Growing Independence and Fluency

Alex Howard


Rationale: For students to become fluent readers they must be able to read automatically.  When students gain fluency they will then learn it is easier to understand the text, comprehend the stories, read faster and read with more expression. The following lesson was made to help students to increase their fluency while reading and the students will learn an effective decoding strategy when they don't know a word. The activity in this lesson will help students to become more fluent by giving them practice with reading a whole text and being timed while doing it.  The activity is a fun way to practice our fluency skills and use timed readings at the same time.



*Class set of A Job for Zack

*Class set of colored spots for each student

*Class set of cover up critters (directions at bottom)

*Students need pencils and paper

*Stop watches for every pair of students



1. Say: "Today we are going to learn about fluency and become fluent readers, which means we will read faster, with more expression, voluntarily and it will help you better understand the text you have read."


2. Say: "Raise your hand if you have ever come to a word you did not know and skipped it because it was hard to read?  Everyone in the class, that's what I thought because I have done it too when I was your age.  It is very important for us to not skip words and keep reading because when we do that sometimes we never know what they word was.  It is important for us to decode the word and make sure we understand the word and how it fits into the story.  Today we are going to use our cover up critters to help us decode words we don't know.  First I will demonstrate an easy word."  Write frog on the board.  "You will want to start with the vowel, which is the o.  What does the letter o make?  Good ooooooo your right. So cover up all the other letters but o you know this says /o/.  Now look at the first letter, cover up everything but f which says /f/.  Next the letter is r it says /r/.  Now you have fro and now we have to add the last letter which is g and says /g/.  Everyone say the word together…f-r-o-g. Very good, now you know how to use your cover up critter so anytime you can not figure out a word you can use it to help you decode."


3. Say: "It is very important for us to become fluent readers because when we read fluently we will like to read more because it is easier to understand.  Have you noticed when you read for the first time it is very choppy and the meaning is sometimes unclear?"  Write the sentence on the board and read the sentence- "I want to learn to read"-read the sentence choppy and slow while sounding out. "IIIII wwwwaaannnnttt ttooooo rreeeaaaadddd.  With more practice you can learn to read faster and put emotion behind your reading.  Does this sound better or worse?"  Read the sentence with emotion and speed. "I want to learn to read!  Yes it was much better, you are right.  This is what our goal is to read more fluently."


4. Book talk:  A Job for Zack, Zack is going to get groceries for his mom when he spots a box that had fallen out of a delivery truck.  Zack thinks it is his job to get this box to its owner and so Zack sets off on an adventure to get this box back to its owner.  Zack has many obstacles that come into play while he is trying to get this box delivered and you will have to read to see if he ever gets the box to its owner.


5.Now have each student should get with a partner and give each group a cover up critter and a stop watch so they can time each other.  Explain to the students that every student should take turns reading the first chapter of the book and timing each other.  Then you will show students how to count the words up on each page so they will know how many words they read in that minute. Pass out spots to each student so that they will have a way of counting how many seconds it took them to read all the words in the text (each color stands for a different number). Say: "Now that you all have a book and your color spots I want you to start reading and counting all words in text, then times that by 60 and divide that by the seconds it took to read the whole story-remember each spot stands for 10 so count the seconds it took you to read and put the color spot on top once you are done reading."


6. Then, have each student record how many words they read.  Each student should use the formula: all words in text X 60 / seconds it took to read it. The students should only read the first chapter of the book and it will be a timed whole text reading. Walk around the room when each student starts to make sure everyone is doing the appropriate task, also make sure the cover up critter is being used appropriately.  Make sure you are keeping an eye on the students so they will all be doing the fluency activity together. If any students need help figuring out how to do the math the teacher should help.


7. Assessment: You should have each child write their name on their paper and turn it in to you.  They should color a circle on their paper of the color spot they got to while reading.  This way you can compare the words per minute on the first read to the fourth read and see how much progress they made throughout the activity. 


Directions for cover up critter: You will need a Popsicle stick and two googly eyes for each cover-up critter. Lay the Popsicle stick horizontally and glue the eyes on one end of the stick.  This will help students to follow along with words as they read and cover up words to sound them out.



*A Job for Zack   By: Matt Sims (decodable chapter book)

*Debardelaben, Bailey.  3,2,1 Read!

*Smalley, Alli.  Smooth Sailing.

*McKinney, Maggie. Zoom, Zoom, Zooming Into Fluency.


*Beginning Reading, written by Marilyn Jager Adams (1990) published by The Reading Research and Education Center.

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