The Stride to Fluency

Mary Kathryn Johnston

Beginning Reading


Rationale: Fluency, comprehension, and word recognition are only improved by students reading and practicing reading fluently.  Reading fluently is when children can read words automatically, accurately, and at a steady pace.  Students are spending their time reading for comprehension or understanding of the text instead of decoding individual words.  Before a child can read fluently they must use crosschecking as a way to make sure what they are reading is able to be understood.   Students that use crosschecking to check for understanding are a step closer to reading fluently.  The lesson gets the students involved in the reading process and engaged in what they are reading by understanding the text instead of learning how to read the text.  The students will learn to use crosschecking so that the sentences will make more sense and the children will want  to read more allowing them to become more fluent and better readers.

Materials:  Book: At the Beach by Margaret Hillert. (Enough copies for the classroom or place it on the projection screen), paper and pencil, and whiteboard.


1 Today we are going to learn a step in reading that can lead us towards expert readers!. We all want to become better readers right? Great! We are going to learn a way so that we can read faster and understand what the story is telling us.  When we read faster we don't spend our time focusing on learning individual words but instead reading what the story is telling us.  This makes reading fun

2 Crosschecking helps students when they are stuck on words or when a sentence did not make sense to them.  Explain to students how they can use crosschecking to make their sentences easier to read and understand.  "I am going to read a sentence and show you how crosschecking can help me while I am reading.  You will see something pretty if you lake in the fish tank. Wait! That doesn't make sense, it might be look instead of lake.  I am going to reread it with the word I think it might be, You will see something pretty if you look in the fish tank. That makes a lot more sense look works instead of lake.

3 "I want you to try and crosscheck the sentence I am about to read.  Raise your hand when you think you know what word should be there instead.  I went out to eat with my brother and he got stock." Ask them how they can tell it needs a new word and what word it should be. 

 4 Now the students are familiar with crosschecking they need to practice examples on their own.  "I am going to write some sentences on the board and I want you to write down what word needs to be taken away and what new word should go in place of it."

·         The window was broken from the run storm.                          -run, rain

·         My bet is really comfortable with my pillows.                        -bet, bed

·         I ran out of glass on the way to school.                                  -glass, gas

·         My dog bite my sister in the arm and she bled.                      -bite, bit


5 Read a short sentence to the students and pretend to read slow and miss words.  Write on the board:  That night my father came home and I told him all about my trip. "TTTTThhhhattttt nnnniiiighhhhttt mmmyyyy fffattthherrr cammme hooommee and I tttellll hhhhimmm all abouttt my trippp. Wait that doesn't make sense it can't be tell because it doesn't sound right.  Using what you learned about the /o/ sound try and think of how you would say the word told while rereading the sentence. I will try again.  TTTThhhattt niiighhttt myyy fffathherrr came hommmee anddd I tttoooolllldddd hhhiiim allll about mmmyyy trrrippp. Oh friend, now I've got it! I'm going to reread the sentence again with the new word told.  That night my father came home and I told him all about my trip."   Ask the students which time they thought was read better.  Which sentence was easier to understand?  Explain to them that the more they practice reading fluently and crosschecking the better readers they will be and the easier it will be to understand. 

6 Let the students practice reading alone.  "Let's practice the skills we learn individually.  Remember to crosscheck and try to read fluently so we can all be better readers! We are going to read At the Beach.  Two little girls go on vacation to the beach with their grandmother.  They have never been to the beach before and wonder what they will see there.  They see a boat, play in the water, catch ocean animals, and go for a walk.  On their walk the girls are wondering what else they will see at the beach.  You have to read to find out what else the girls see. 

7 Assessment: Call the students up individually and have them read a page to you aloud.  Check for fluency, accuracy, and crosschecking.  The students should use the crosschecking that was taught throughout this lesson and if not help them understand it. The teacher should have her book with her to follow along on the page the student is reading from.  It is important for the teacher to keep track of the students progress. 


At the Beach by Margaret Hillert.

Adams, Marilyn Jager. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.

The Reading Genie Website: rdggenie

 Running Towards Fluency; Growing Independence and Fluency by Angela Carroll Long.