I Feel the Need….The Need for Speed!

Growing Independence and Fluency

Elizabeth Stevens


Rationale: Students first learn to decode when learning to read. Decoding each letter and phoneme in a sentence or even a short text takes a considerable amount of time. Students must learn to progress in the pace and level of their reading. In order to become better readers, students must learn to read fluently. Reading with fluency means that one reads quickly and with enthusiasm, thus making reading a more pleasant experience for the reader and his or her listeners. Rereading is one strategy that helps a reader read fluently. The student is exposed to the text many times, so he or she can read and understand everything in the book. Rereading to create fluency really helps children to understand the meaning of the text. We will practice fluency by rereading.



Multiple copies of In the Big Top

One stopwatch for each pair of students


Charts to record one-minute reads (one for each child) for teacher to mark scores

Fluency checklist (categories: read quickly, read slowly, paused many times, did not pause at all)



  1. Explain to the students that to become better readers, we must read with fluency. “Today we are going to be learning how to be better readers. We are going to do that by reading fluently. Reading fluently means that we want to read quickly and with enthusiasm or expression. One way we can learn to read fluently is to reread. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do today. Now let’s first review a way to figure out a word that we don’t know.” Write the word rod on the board. “First we want to cover up everything but the vowel, the o. Now we want to make that short o sound, /o/. Next we uncover the first letter; r. R makes the /r/ sound. Now let’s put those two sounds together /r/ /o/, ro. Next we’re going to uncover the last letter; d. D makes the /d/ sound. Now let’s try blending all of the sounds together. /r/ /o/ /d/, ro/d/, rod. Also, let’s not forget, if we still are having trouble with a word, we can crosscheck by reading the whole sentence to see if the word we are using makes sense.”
  2. Demonstrate how to read fluently. “Now I’m going to show you what it sounds like when someone reads fluently and when someone doesn’t read fluently.” Write the sentence A dog lay on the rug. “First I’m not going to read it fluently. A d-o-g   l-ay   o-n   a   r-u-g. Could you hear how choppy that was? Could you really get the meaning of the sentence when you heard it that way? Now let’s piece it together slowly to make sure we all understand the sentence and exactly how to read it fluently. A   d-o-g   l-ay… A dog lay   o-n   a   r-u-g…A dog lay on a   r-u-g. A dog lay on the rug. Isn’t it easier to understand the meaning of the sentence as you start to read it fluently?”
  3. “Now we are going to start working on our rereading with a book called, In the Big Top. In this book, a family dressed in silly clothes is getting in a car. I wonder where they are going. I guess we’ll have to read it to find out.
  4. Hand out a copy of the book to each student and have them read it quietly to themselves. If they finish early, have them reread it. After reading the story, discuss it as a whole class. Ask questions to ensure that everyone understands the story. Allow them to reflect and voice their comments.
  5. Partner the children and give each pair a stopwatch and each student a fluency checklist.
  6. Explain the rules. “In your partners, I want one of you to read the book aloud. I want the partner to set the timer for one minute and while your partner is reading, I want you to fill in the fluency checklist. If your partner is reading quickly, put a check under the ‘read quickly’ box. After one minute, I want you to switch. Let the person timing become the reader, and let the reader become the timer. After that minute is up, switch again. I want you to do this five times.” When they are finished, have them discuss their checklists with each other. Let them talk about how they did.
  7. I will assess the students by having them do a one-minute read at my desk where I will use a chart to record their data. I will also collect the fluency checklists from the students.




Anderson, Katie. We Need Speed!



Clabby, Caitlin. Ready..Set..Go!!



In the Big Top. Educational Insights. Carson, CA. 1990. Auburn University.




(Teacher’s Chart)


Child’s Name____________________








Read Quickly




Read Smoothly



Read with Expression





Pauses:_____________________ (Represent with Tally Marks)




(Students’ Chart)


Child’s Name_____________________








Read Quickly




Read Slowly



Paused Many Times




Did Not Pause





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