Score a Homerun for Reading!

 Growing Independence and Fluency

Eleanor McDavid


            Fluency is the ability for a person to be able to read text smoothly, expressively, and faster. By being able to do this, the person is able to concentrate more on the comprehension of the text instead of on the decoding of each individual word. For people who are not fluent, reading becomes a chore because it is such a slow, painstaking process that it is something that he/she would rather avoid. Fluency practice is important because it helps people become better readers and enjoy books for comprehension. Effective fluency practices include repeated reading, timed reads, and fun graphs to show improvement.





1.         First, the teacher should introduce the lesson by telling the students, “To be a good reader you need to be fluent. The goal of your reading is to be a fluent reader. There are many ways to help practice our fluency and today we are going to start. First you need to understand the differences between what a nonfluent reader sounds like compared to a fluent reader. I’m going to model the process that a reader takes by reading a sentence and progressing from being nonfluent to a fluent reader.” The teacher should write the text, “My dog is tan and has white spots” on the board. After doing this he/she should model how a nonfluent reader would attempt this sentence by reading it word by word and decoding all the phonemes. (i-e: M-y  d-o-g i-s  t-a-n  a-n-d  h-a-s  wh-i-te  s-p-o-t-s.) After doing this the teacher could then repeat the text by blending the phonemes together but still reading in a slow choppy pattern. (i-e: My_ dog_ is_ tan_ and_ has_ white_ spots.)  “Remember students that the ‘a’ in tan says /a/ and the ‘i-e’ in white says /I/. It is always important to be able to decode words using the clues we learned before.” The teacher could ask his/her students if they could tell the difference between the two ways he/she just read the text. The students should respond by saying how the second one is better than the first; the second one was faster; etc. For a third time the teacher should read the text but now he/she should read it faster and with a little more emphasis on the words. (i-e: My dog is tan and has white spots.”) He/she should ask the students the differences between the second and third attempt. The student should describe the qualities of a fluent reader. The teacher should then describe the process he/she went through to become fluent reader of the text he/she just read and how by the last read through of the text, he/she was reading it faster and smoother because she was more familiar with the words and didn’t have to sound them out. (“That is the goal of fluency!!”)

2.         Now the teacher should have the students have their first read of a decodable book. The teacher could say, “Today we are going to be reading, The Mean Geese. Scat the cat and Lad the dog want to go to the lake to have fun however the geese are mean and won’t let them come near. So when Lad goes home he starts to make a huge mess and everyone gets mad and they send him back to the lake. To find out whatever happens to Lad and the geese at that lake you have to read The Mean Geese by Geri Murray.” Lead the class in a modeled reading by reading The Mean Geese as a fluent reader as the students follow along in their own copy of the book. After the teacher finishes reading the book, have the students come to the teacher’s desk and have them read the text in a one minute read. Make sure that the student knows that the goal of the one minute read is for speed and to see how many words they can read in the minute. Repeated readings help with inaccuracy. As the students sit with the teacher, the teacher should tell the students that their scores will be graphed to show their progress on a chart. An example of a chart could be a baseball player running the bases to get a homerun. Graphing is motivating because it makes progress evident.  The basic procedure is to have your student read for one minute, count the number of words read, and graph the result on the chart. As the number of words-per-minutes increases, the baseball player moves a base and gets closer to getting a homerun.

3.         After the teacher gets the first record of WPM on the first read of the text, he/she should direct the students to work with a partner on their rereads. Remind the students what it takes to be a fluent reader and what it sounds like to be a fluent reader. Each student should have a check sheet to show improvement in different areas of fluency: remembered more words, read faster, read smoother, and reads with expression. In each pair, students take turns being the reader and the listener.  The reader reads a selection three times.  The listener gives a report after the second and third readings. Remind the students that the reports are complimentary and no criticism or advice is allowed. For the 2nd and 3rd reads, if the student has an improvement checkmark, they can move their baseball player a base closer to a homerun.

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            For the assessment, the students will come back to the teacher’s desk with their graph of their progress and their check off sheet that their buddies filled out about them. The teacher will analyze the two sheets and have the student do one last one-minute read. The teacher will assess based on their improvement in fluency of that text. If their baseball player is not at homerun the teacher should include the assessment to help the students reach their goal of a homerun.



Murray, Bruce. “Developing Reading Fluency.”

Keel, Ashley. “Read, Read, Red Dog!”

Murray, Geri. The Mean Geese.