Racing Towards Fluency
Amy Harris
Growing Independence and Fluency

Rationale: One of the most important goals in teaching reading is to teach students to become fluent readers.  To become fluent readers it is important for students to read a variety of texts multiple times.  The more times a student reads a text, the more words they read by automatic word recognition, and that helps them read for more comprehension and with less frustration.  Students who are more fluent readers read faster and with more expression, so that makes it more enjoyable.  When students become more fluent readers they are more confident and and enjoy reading more.  

A Race for The Cake (Book from Reading Genie Website for everyone)
Reading fluency check sheets (one per student, available on Reading Genie Website: (
stopwatch (for each student)
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
dry erase board
laminated cake with times on each level. candles with everyone's name on them (move them up as everyone gets faster)

1. Explain: "Today we are going to talk about becoming fluent reader. Does anyone know what the word fluent means? It means to read something smoothly and at a good speed, so it is more fun for you and the people that you are reading to! Once we practice becoming more fluent readers we will be able to read with more excitement in our voice because we will really be enjoying ourselves when we are reading!"

2. "I am now going to read to you one of my favorite books that I have loved since I was little."  Show them the cover of The Napping House and place the first page on the overhead so everyone can see.  

3. Read the first page: I will first read it in an exaggerated manner that shows how a non-fluent reader would read.  "Ttthhhheeeerrreee isss a hooousssee I, a nnnnnaaaaaapppp.....pause.......napping wwhhh....eeee...rrr...eeee eeevvveeeryy...onnneee is ssssleeepping." "See some of those words I had trouble with like house, but I saw the rest of the sentence and hose did not make sense, and house was easier for me to sound out the second time. Now I will read it a second time, "Th-ere i-s a h-ou-se a nap-ing hou-se wh-e-re e-very-one is sleep-ing." Some of the words are getting easier this time but it is still a little choppy. Let's read it again, " There is a house, a napping house, where everyone is sleeping." Which one sounded better to ya'll? That's right! The third one did! I practiced the words a couple time and got better every time that I worked on them.  The last time I was able to read faster, smoother, and with more expression, and that made if more fun for ya'll to listen to!" Quickly read the rest of the book to the class.

4. Explain "That book was all about napping, but at the end it says that "no one now is sleeping." No one will be sleeping today because we are learning to read fast! We are going to be racing towards fluency! We are all going to get a chance to practice together!

5. Write this sentence on the board: "There is a napping house, where no one now is sleeping!" Have the students read this sentence aloud a couple of times, getting faster and smoother each time that they read it. Ask for volunteers to stand up and read the sentence fluently to the class.  

6. "That was a great job! All of you sounded like such fluent readers! Now all of you are going to read a story called A Race for the Cake.  This story is about two children who get done swimming and they smell the cake.  Their friend Lad smells it too and he wants some too! They start racing to get the cake! Who will get it? All of you get to find out!"

7. Put everyone in partners.  Give every partner a copy of A Race for the Cake and a stopwatch.  Give every person a copy of the fluency checklist.  "You and your partner are going to take turns reading one page of this book. Make sure you are being a good listener while your partner reads.  Each of you will take turns reading this story three times each.  The first time you can read the story to your partner.  The second time you and your partner will take turns using the stopwatch to see how quickly and expressively you can read the story.  Make sure to write the time down on your sheet! After the second time, you and your partner will use the check sheet to see if you remembered more words, read faster, smoother, or with more expression.  Then you and your partner will time each other reading it a third time and see if you were able to remember more words or read more smoothly or with more expression. "Walk around and listen while each partner is reading.

8. After all of the groups get done ask them "Which readings did you and your partner do better on, the first, second, or third?  Look at your check sheets and the amount of time it took you, did you get faster? Which time did you read the smoothest, with the most expression, and the fastest? Most of you probably did better on the third time. "

9. Explain "As a class we will be working on this for the rest of the year.  I have made a big cake with candles on it with everyone's name on it. The cake shows certain times, and once you finish your timed readings we will move your candle up to whatever time you get. By the end of the year all of our candles will be on top of our cake because we will all be fluent readers! At the end of the year I will bring cake for everyone and we can have a fluent reader cake party!"

Fluency check sheets: Notice the amount of time it took for the student to read, and what they improved on each time.  Assessment can be based on those and what the teacher observed while walking around and listening. The ones who did not show improvement need to be the ones who get further assistance.

I will do my own fluency assessments during small group reading time and have one on one reading time with each.

Reading Genie Website:

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