Zipping up the Flag Pole

Fast and Accurate Reading

Cassie Dillard

Title: Zipping up the Flag Pole. A lesson focused on fluency.


In order for children to  become fluent readers, they must develop skills to learn to read faster, smoother, and with greater expression. Fluent readers have the ability to read words automatically and accurately.  Fluency gives beginning readers the ability  to be confident in reading which will help to derive reading for comprehension.  The students will gain fluency by repeated reading, timed readings, and one-minute reads.


1. Writing Tablet (enough for each child)

2. Pencil (enough for each child)

3. Cover-up critter (enough for each child) (A cover up critter is a popsicle stick with eyes on it to help follow)

4. Chart with sentences on it

I walk to the store. 

The cat ran away from the dog. 

The ball got stuck in the tree.

5. Stopwatch (enough for 1 per reading group)

6. Board (chalk, white board- teacher use)

7. Fluency  Record Chart (enough for each child) (example provided)

8. Progress Chart ( Pole and Flag) (One for each student) (example provided)

9. Fluency Rubric (enough for each child)

10.Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley (Riley, Linnea. Mouse Mess. New York, NY.  Scholastic Inc.1997. Pp. Insights.1990. Pp.1-15.)



[ Introduction] Introduce the lesson by telling the class that they will be talking about fluent reading. Allow the students to ask questions of what fluency is. "Today we will be practicing becoming fluent readers. A fluent reader is someone who can read words smoothly and accurately. Someone who is fluent has little trouble reading words and does not have to stop while reading.  We want to become fluent readers because the text will make more sense when you read it and you will be able to understand it better. Every time you read, you become a better fluent reader because you become more familiar with words.  So today, we will be working on becoming fluent. We will reread books and time ourselves to see if we are getting better at reading. Let's get started!"


[Review] I will begin the lesson with a review of how to use the cover-up critter to help them decode words. I will write a word on the board (stick).  "I don't know what this word is. What is something I can use to help me decode this word? [Allow students to answer] You're right. I can use my cover-up critter. Let me show you how I would decode this word.  I will have to start with the short vowel /i/. [SAY /i/] Now, we need to cover up all the letters after /i/ (ick). So at the beginning of the word we have s-s-t-t. I need to blend the two together /st/. Now, we need to add our short vowel /i/.  [SAY /sti/] Okay, I need to cover up the letter s, t, i, and sound out c k… /ck/.  Now that we know all the sounds, let's blend them all together so we can read the word. /s//t//i//ck/. Wow, having a cover-up critter can really help when I get stuck."



[Practice Decoding]. "Take out your writing tablet, cover up critter, and get with a partner.  I want you to practice decoding, even if you really know the word. Here are some words [write on board] I want you to try:  duck, flat, and stuck. When you are done practicing with each other put your pencils down so we can move on [Have 3 students come to the board and demonstrate] You have done a great job!"


[Model] "Okay, we all know how to decode, but we are working on fluency. Sometimes we will have to use decoding while learning how to be fluent. But right now I am going to show you how to work on being fluent. Reading is very hard, but once you do it over and over again- you get better. I am going to read a sentence as if I were just beginning to read.  T-t-t-t-the d-d-dog use cover up critter) /e/.../w/…/n/ /t/ /w//e//n//t went  o-o-on  a w-w-w-walk w-w-with h-h-h his  m-m-mas-mast-er- master. Did that sound fluent to you?[ Allow students to answer] Good, I do not think that was fluent reading. Let me try to read a little more fluently. The dog w-w-wwent on a w-w-walk with h-his mast- master.  Did you think that was fluent? [Allow students to answer]. You're right, it's not completely fluent, but it is better than the first time. See how when you read it more often- you become a better reader. Let me try it one last time. The dog went on a walk with his master. Now, do you think that was fluent? [ Allow students to answer]. Yes; that is fluent reading. I practiced and practiced and got better each time. Now it's your turn to practice."

[Practice Fluency]  "Now that I have shown you how to become fluent readers I want you to practice. Here are some sentences on our chart paper. I want you to read it as many times as you can until you don't make a mistake.  Don't forget to use cover-up critters or cross-checking when you first read the sentence. Let me remind you how to cross check. [Write: The boy and girl went to class.] The boy and grill went- the boy and girl went to class. Use all your skills while reading.  Now, look up here for the sentences:

·        I walk to the store.

·         The cat ran away from the dog. 

·        The ball got stuck in the tree.

" You are doing a great job! Let's read them all together!"

"Everyone is doing a great job! I want you to know how proud I am of you for trying so hard. Now, I am going to pass Mouse Mess to each of you. You will also get a record chart and a fluency rubric chart. Everyone needs to get with your reading partner [ Have reading partners prepared before lesson]. Each group will need to get one stopwatch and a sticky pad !" [ Have rules for stopwatch such as : Do not play with them. Do not have them on while teacher is talking, etc.]  


[Book Talk] Mouse Mess is a story about a pesky little mouse. Well one day, the mouse took a nap inside a human family's house. The family had no idea that they had a mouse living in their house. Well on this day, the mouse took a nap. He was so sleepy! After a few hours, the mouse woke up to realize how hungry he was. He looked all around and no one was home. The mouse raided the kitchen. He ate crackers, fruit, chips, pickles, ketchup and a lot more. The mouse was out of control!! When he finally got full, he realized what a mess he had made. He didn't know what to do. You will have to read to figure out if he got caught, cleaned up the mess or what….


8.)      "Now that we have all our materials, we are going to read to each other.  One partner will be the Reader and one will be the Writer. Let me tell you the directions for each role"

a.     [READER] "The reader will read as much of the book as he/she can in one minute. The reader will read Mouse Mess three times total, each for one minute. As the reader reads more words per minute they can use their progress chart and move the flag up the flag pole. The goal is to get the highest amount of words per minute."

b.     [WRITER] "The writer will listen to the reader read the book. As soon as the reader says the first word, the writer should start the stopwatch. After one minute, the writer should stop the stopwatch. The writer should place a sticky note on the last word the reader read. Then the writer should count all the words the reader read correctly. After that, record the number of words per minute on the fluency chart. Repeat two more times. After the second and third readings, the writer should record their thoughts on the fluency RUBRIC. ."

"After the reader has read three times, the partners should switch roles. The reader will become the writer and the writer will become the reader. I will be walking around helping you if you need anything.But, before we get started I want to MODEL how to do each role." [Model each role: Show how to read for one minute, then show to count the number of correctly read words in one minute and record the data]

9.)      [Assessment] The students should turn in the fluency record chart and their individual fluency rubric. During reading centers, I will have each child read a one minute passage from Mouse Mess to me. I will record the fluency on the one minute record sheet. Also, with fluency comes comprehension. The students will have to answer 2 questions from the passage that they read. Other students should be reading and working independently on their fluency while I am assessing each child.



Riley, Linnea. Mouse Mess. New York, NY.  Scholastic Inc. 1997. Pp. Insights.1990. pp.1-15.
Hunter,Vicki.  Reading Express.

Return to the Projects index.