At Lightning Speed..

Amy Whitcomb



Rationale: At this stage in reading, students should be able to decode books and automatically recognize phonemes and their sound correspondences. The next step is reading fluency. Fluency is a very important step in reading because fluency leads to more accurate and automatic reading. Reading becomes effortless, leaving more room for reading comprehension. In order to comprehend a text, the reader must store the words in short-term memory so that the text can be connected at the end of the sentence or paragraph. According to Adams, “the primary goal of phonic instruction should be to direct a child’s attention to those patterns so that they can be learned well enough that words can be identified rapidly and automatically” (93). It is very important for word-by-word readers to transform into accurate, automatic readers so they can reach the goal of reading instruction: reading comprehension. Students will build their fluency skills through one-minute repeated reads.


Materials: Speed record sheet (one per student), Fluency Literacy Rubric (one per student), stop watch (one per pair), dry erase board and marker, book- Tin Man Fix It (one per student)


Speed Record Sheet:

Name:_________ Date:________

First Time:_________

Second time:________

Third time:_______



Fluency Literacy Rubric:

Name:________  Partner:______________ Date: _________

I noticed that my partner…. (check the circle)

After 2nd           after 3rd

( )                     ( )                     Remembered more words

( )                     ( )                     Read faster

( )                     ( )                     Read smoother

( )                     ( )                     Read with expression



  1. Introduce the lesson by saying, “Now that we are all expert decoders, it is time to put all of our knowledge into practice! We know that we can read the stories, but do we really understand what we are reading? In order to understand the book, we need to be fluent readers. If we are fluent readers then we can read stories faster and with more accuracy. We need to read a story more than once to become fluent readers. Let’s get started!”
  2. Review how to decode words. Use the word thumb. The cover-up method is the most effective way to quickly and accurately decode the word. Start in the center with the vowel. “If I saw this word then I would cover up everything around the vowel”, show them that I would cover up the th and mb. “Now that I have those letters covered, I know that u = /u/. That makes the ughhh sound. Next, I would look at what comes before the vowel (remove cover-up). This makes the th sound, so if I blend this together I have thu = /thu/. Last, I would look at the last cover-up (remove last one) and I have mb = /mb/. Put all three of these sounds together and I have thumb. Whenever you come across an unfamiliar word when you are reading, try the cover-up method.”
  3. Demonstrate how fluent readers read. Write the sentence “The sun was shining at the beach yesterday” and read it twice, the first time read it broken, "TThhee/ sssuun/ wwas/ shhinning/ aattt/ thththe/ bbeeeach/ yyeestterday. Notice how that was very broken up, it was not very smooth. Now I am going to try it again and try to make is smoother, 'Tthe ssun was shhining aatt the beeach yesterdday'. Notice how my reading is becoming smoother each time. Now I will try it one more time, 'The sun was shining at the beach yesterday". Ask the students “Did anyone notice a difference in how I read those? Which one was easier to understand?” Very good! It is easier to understand when you read with fluency.
  4. Next, pass out the book Tin Man Fix It to each student. Have each student read the book once to themselves. Once they have read it through once, have them partner up with their neighbor and pass out Speed Record Sheet, Fluency Literacy Rubric, and the stopwatch. Explain to the students how to use these sheets and what they are looking for. Assign one student to be the reader and one to be the recorder.  The reader will read the story for one minute and the recorder will keep track of how many times or how far their partner gets into the story. The recorder tells the reader when to begin and when to end. Each time the recorder will record how many words were read per minute. Once the reader has had three read aloud, the students will switch roles.
  5. Once the students have finished recording the one-minute read, have the students fill out the Fluency Literacy Sheet for their partner.
  6. I will assess the students during reading centers by taking a running record while they read Tin Man Fix It aloud to me.




Adams, Marilyn. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print. Urbana, IL: Center for the Study of Reading,1990, 93


Horton, Shelley. "Zooming Into Fluency".

Phonics Readers- short vowels: Tin Man Fix It. Educational Insights, 1990.

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