Fluency Is Too Cool for School

Melanie Tew


Rationale: In order for children to become fluent readers, they must learn how to read faster, smoother, and more expressively.  Fluent readers have to be able to read accurately and automatically.  This lesson will teach students how to read quickly, smoothly, and expressively.  The students will gain fluency through repeated readings, timed readings, and one-minute reads.  The more they read, the more their reading skills will improve! 


-Sentence strips (two for each pair): The dog got a bone from the bowl.
                                                          :  The bird flew away from the house.
-Poems (two for each pair): Too Busy by Bruce Lansky

                                           : Class Gas by Ken Nesbitt
 ** Poems and citations are attached
-Stopwatch for each group
-A variety of different books to practice with
-Assessment chart (See below)


1. Explain the difference between a fluent and non-fluent reader. “Today, we will be practicing improving our fluency when reading. Who can tell me what fluency is? Right, it means to read fast. A skillful reader not only reads fast though. A skillful reader reads words automatically and reads with expression.  Reading fluently means that you can read faster, reading is easier, you can read more and you can understand the text better.  Beginning readers read slowly and may struggle while reading.  Reading is more difficult and is slower.  I’m going to read a sentence and you tell me if I’m a beginning reader or a fluent reader.  ‘The dog got a bone from the bowl.’ [fluent] ‘The ddddoooooogggg gooootttt a bbbbooooone fffrrrooomm the boooowwwll.’ [beginner]  Great! Now let’s practice to become fluent readers.”

2. Practice with sentence strips. “First, I want you to get with your reading buddy and find a spot on the carpet.  [Wait for children to be seated.]  Okay, I’m going to give you and your reading partner two sentence strips that have a different sentence on each one.  I want you to practice saying these two sentences over and over again. One way to become a fluent reader is to read and reread texts.  I’ll show you how to start.  I will read, ‘The dog got a bone from his bowl.’ (several times) I will read, ‘The bird flew away from the house.’ (several times)  Then, Sally will read, ‘The dog got a bone from his bowl.’ She will read the sentence several times and then read the next sentence several times.  Okay, now practice reading and rereading your sentences to your partner.  I will be walking around and observing you working with your partner.

3.  “When you’re reading, if you come across a word you do not know, what should you do?  [Use a cover up.]  Right, you can use a cover up.  Cover ups are a good way to break words up into parts that are easier for us to read.  Remember, when we use cover-ups, first we cover up everything except for the vowel, then say the vowel sound.  Like this. [batch is on the board, cover up all but a]  Next, cover up everything except the letters before the vowel and say them [cover atch]. Last, cover up everything except for the letters that come after the vowel [ cover ba].  After you have sounded all of the parts out, put all of the sounds together [b-a-tch, batch].

4.  Hand out practice poem, Class Gas by Ken Nesbitt, to read with partners.  Poem talk: “The teacher and the students in this classroom are passing out and gasping for air.  What do you think is causing this? We’ll have to read to find out. Now I’m going to hand out a poem to each one of you, and I want you to get your cover-ups out.  You’ll work with your same partner each pair will get one stopwatch. After you have read and reread the poem a couple of times, I want you to practice timing yourself while reading.  If you come across a word you don’t know, remember to use your cover-ups! Let me show you how the timed readings will work.  It’s my turn to read, so Sally will hold the stopwatch.  When Sally says go, she will press the start button and I will begin to read.  I will read the poem all the way through, and when I finish, Sally will press the stop button on the stopwatch and then we will write down how much time it took me to read the poem.  Next, it will be Sally’s turn, and I will do the stopwatch.  I want you to this with your partner, and keep doing it until I come around to your group.  We will be reading it several times to practice becoming fluent readers.  You may begin reading.

5.  Give students the new poem for assessment, Too Busy by Bruce Lansky.  Poem talk: “This boy has done all of his chores and more, and is just ‘too busy.’  What do you think he is ‘too busy’ for? We’ll have to read to find out.” After the students have had the opportunity to read the poems a few times through, I will give them a one minute reading assessment on the new poem. While a couple of groups are doing this, the other groups will still be working on the first poem.  Once thy finish the assessment, they may go and practice the same skills with a book of their choice. “I heard some good reading as I walked around the room.  Now I am going to give you and your partner a new poem.  You are going to have a few minutes to practice reading the poem to each other a couple of times.  After a few minutes, I will come around to you and your reading buddy and time your reading for one minute, noting how many words you read in one minute.  I will give you your own reading chart that helps you keep track of your improvement.  Also, I will write the amount of words you read (in one minute) on the class chart. As you begin to read more fluently, your football will move up the field.  After I finish timing your reading, you may go and get a book of your choice.  I want you to continue practicing becoming fluent readers while I finish timing everyone else.”

Assessment: I will assess the students by how fluently they read the poem to me.  The class reading chart will also serve as a long term assessment. 


Smelley, Sarah K. “Nemo’s Fast Swim.” http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/ reading_genie/catalysts/smelleygf.html

Morrow, Casey.  “5-4-3-2-1  Blast Off to Reading!” http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/constr/morrowgf.html

Too Busy

By Bruce Lansky

I’ve folded all my laundry
and put it in the drawer.
I’ve changed my linen, made my bed,
and swept my bedroom floor.

I’ve emptied out the garbage
and fixed tomorrow’s lunch.
I’ve baked some cookies for dessert
and given dad a munch.

I’ve searched the house for pencils
and sharpened every one.
There are so many things to do
when homework must be done.



Class Gas

By Ken Nesbitt

The teacher passed out and fell right off her chair.
My classmates are crying and gasping for air.
The hamster is howling and hiding his head.
The plants by the window are practically dead.

There’s gas in the class; it’s completely my fault,
and smells like a chemical weapons assault.
So try to remember this lesson from me:
Don’t take off your shoes in class after P.E.





                                                           One Minute Reads





Number of Words Read












                                                        Fluency Assessment Chart



1st Read


2nd Read














Back to Perspectives