Elaine Sirota

Racing for Speed!

Growing Independence and Fluency Lesson



       In order for children to become expert readers, they have to develop fluency in their reading. Fluency involves reading faster, smoother, and with more expression.  One of the first steps in developing fluency is learning to recognize words effortlessly and automatically.  This lesson will help students to begin to read faster through repeated readings and one-minute reads.



1. Introduce the lesson by saying, “In order to become a successful reader, you must be able to read fluently.  Fluency is when you are able to read fast without stopping to sound out each word.  You recognize the words automatically and you read them with little or no effort.  Once you become fluent readers, the text will begin to make more sense because you do not have to try so hard to read each word.  One way that we can work on fluency is by reading a text more than once.  Each time you read the text, you get faster because you are becoming more familiar with the text.  Today we are gong to practice fluency by reading a text more than once and seeing how much we can improve.”

2. Let’s review some skills that we have learned which help us decode words.  To read fluently we need to be able to limit our decoding and recognize words quickly, but if we do need to decode we must be able to know how to do so quickly.  If I come to a word like team (write on board), and am stuck, what’s the first thing I should do?  That’s right, get out my cover up.  With my cover up I will get the vowel by itself covering up all the other letters (model).  My vowel sound in team is ea and I know that ea=/E/.  We are then going to uncover the beginning letter t.  I know t=/t/…so know we have /t/ /E/.  Then uncover the last letter m.  m=/m/…/t/ /E/ /m/…team!  Let’s all join the speed TEAM! (Write on the board)

3. “Is there someone who can tell me what other strategy we use when figuring out words?” Very good! We use cross-checking when we read. Write the sentence Tim fell down and broke his leg on the board. You might have read this sentence as Tim feel down and broke his leg if you did not know the word fell. But wait! That does not make sense so as good readers we go back and re-read our sentence to make sure it makes sense. When you re-read a sentence to make sure it makes sense, it is called cross-checking.

4. Now we are ready to learn how to read fluently. I’m going to read a sentence and I want you to listen carefully to how it sounds. I will write “James makes a lake in the tub” on the board. I will then read it as J-a-a-a-m-m-e-s   m-a-a-k-k-e-s    a-a    l-a-a-k-e       i-i-n    t-h-e-e     t-u-u-b. Next, I will read James makes a lake in the tub. Which one of those sounds better? That’s right, the second time sounded much better because I read it faster and it made it easier to understand what the sentence meant.

5. Since you know why it is important to read faster and fluently, we are going to practice this skill. I am going to pass out a copy of James and the Good Day to each student. Give a book talk for it. “The main character in this book is James. James decides he will sail his tug in the tub. He makes a lake in the tub and waits for the water in the tub to fill up. The lake James makes is big and overflows out of the tub. Will James get in trouble? What will happen to the tug? Will James be able to still play with the tug? Read the story to find out what happens." Now I want you to look at the sheets of paper on your desk. These are fluency checklists that check for remembering words, reading faster, reading smoother, and reading with more expression.

6. “I am going to assign each of you with a partner and I want you to read your story to each other three times each. The second and third time that your partner reads the story, the student not reading is going to mark on the boxes to show which areas their partner has improved in their reading.” Then you will switch and do the same thing for the other student.

7. “What do you think happens the more we read a story? That’s correct! Usually you are able to read faster the more times you read a story. Let’s find out if this is true.” You are going to read the story again three times to your partner and record how many words you are able to read in one minute. The partner who is not reading will record the one who is reading on the speed record sheet.

8. To assess the children, I will do a one minute read with each child individually. I will have the student read James and the Good Day three times and record their results to see if they increase the number of words they read per minute. This, along with the fluency check lists, will show me whether the children are making progress towards faster and more fluent reading each time they read.

Speed Record Sheet

Name:________________           Date:__________

1st time:______

2nd time:______

3rd time:______


Fluency Literacy Rubric

Name:____________         Evaluator:____________         Date:___________

I noticed that my partner… (color in the circle)

After 2nd                         After 3rd

O                                    O                          Remembered more words

O                                    O                          Read faster

O                                    O                          Read smoother

O                                    O                          Read with expression


James and the Good Day. Educational Insights, Carson CA., 1990.

Melton, Shelly. Ready to Race.