Blasting Off Into Fluent Readers!

By: Julia Lightsey


            Fluent readers have the skill to not only read faster than their non-fluent peers, but also to read smoother and with more expression. When children can readily recognize and decode words reading becomes much more fun and enjoyable.  The goal of this lesson is to teach students (around the 3rd grade level) how to speed up their reading as well as practice smooth reading with expression.  This lesson will involve timed readings and re-readings of decodable text to give students the practice needed to improve reading fluency.

Materials: A copy of Outer Space by: Meish Goldfish for each student; 3 kitchen/egg timers; a copy of "Blasting Off into Reading" worksheet for each student; a rocket for each student (to mark fluency in minutes); pencils and markers.


1.  Begin the lesson by demonstrating how to decode an unknown word. Say: Let's talk about what we do if we come to a word that we do not know. For example this word contest (show the students this word in the text or either written out) Think Aloud: Well I see an o and no letter to make it long so it must say /o/. Then I see a c at the beginning so it must make the /k/ sound; kkk…ooo…nnn…ttt. Now I see a short e because it has not other letters that make it long e so, kkk…ooo…nnn…ttt. . .eee…st, Oh, contest!

2.  Next give a book talk and build background knowledge for the passage Outer Space. Say: Have you ever wanted to go to outer space? Outer Space is a very big place and it contains all of the planets, stars, and moons in our universe. Let's read the passage Outer Space to learn more about it.

3.  Next, model reading the passage with expression. Discuss with students that it is important that we read the same way that we talk, smoothly and with expression. Model both correct and incorrect fluent reading.

4. Say: Now each of you is going to read this passage aloud to me. I am going to time you and write your time and number of errors on the "Blasting Off into Reading" worksheet. Have students each read the passage aloud document their time and number of errors on the worksheet. Have the students tape their rocket marker on the timeline and write 1st reading.

5.  Then have students get into pairs to buddy-read. (Students may choose their own buddy or they may be assigned by the teacher.) Give each group a kitchen/egg timer and each student a copy of "Blasting Off into Reading" worksheet, and a rocket to mark progress as well as a marker/pencil.

6. Have the students buddy read with their partners (taking turns) and timing each other while reading. Once the student reads he should record his time on the worksheet and move the rocket marker and label it with the appropriate reading turn. Have the students read and time one another 3 times each. The teacher will walk around and monitor students during reading.

7. For assessment, collect each of the students' papers to compare first and last readings (times and errors). Have a final read with each student and document their final time and number of errors on the worksheet. Have student move their rocket marker to the final reading time,


Goldfish, Meish. Outer Space. 309 words. North Carolina State University: College of Education – Improving Reading Comprehension using Metacognitive Strategies: Third Grade Reading Passages .

Alison Bradley. Growing Independence & Fluency: "I'm Bananas About Reading!"

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