Stop, Drop, and Read!

Anna Kaye Whiddon


As children start to decode words and read them automatically, they start to become fluent. As fluent readers, the children will start to become familiar with reading and learn which types of books they like, which will allow them to really enjoy reading. Before getting to this point, the reader needs to gain independence by practicing and re-reading books.



Copy of Ants in a Can for each student

Stopwatch for every two students

Sentence strips (The cat ran fast up the hill; My bat and ball are red.; The frog hit the rock hard)

Text from book typed on copying paper (for students to mark stopping place)



Fire Ladder progress chart (a fire ladder that leads to a window with a fireman climbing to the top with WPM on each step; the student is trying to get the fireman to the top of the window)



1. Tell students the purpose and goal of the lesson. "Today we are going to try and read like fluent readers. Being a fluent reader is reading fast without having to stop to sound out words. All of you can read so well, but we are going to practice reading faster. If we read faster then we will be able to understand the story better and enjoy it. One way that we can make ourselves faster readers is to read a text more than once. Each time you read the text you will get better and faster because you will be more familiar with the words."

2. Teacher will model how a fluent reader reads. I will write a sentence on a sentence strip like "The cat ran fast up the hill" First, I am going to show you how a reader that is not fluent would read this sentence: Ttttthhhhe cccaaatt rrraan fffaassssttt uup tthhe hhiilll. Now I am going to show you how a fluent reader would read the sentence: The cat ran fast up the hill. Can you tell a difference? What are some differences? Now I am going to read it one more time: The cat ran fast up the hill. The third time I read it the fastest because I was already familiar with the text.

3. Now we are going to read the text Ants in a Can. This is going to give us some practice on being more fluent in our reading. Book Talk: Ann wants ants for her ant farm, but they're biting her! We will have to read to see what happens to Ann and the ants. The teacher will pair students up with one official copy of the text, one copy of the text typed out, a pencil, and a stopwatch. Each student will read the book to their partner as the stopwatch is timing for one minute. The teacher will remind the students to remember to cross-check. This is a tool that fluent readers use, which helps them to understand the text better. If you do not recognize the word immediately, try to sound it out as best as you can. Once you have figured out what the word it, re-read the sentence to make sure that word makes sense in the sentence. The teacher will model how to read Ants in a Can fluently.

4. Now that everyone has seen me read the text fluently, I want everyone to practice with their partner. You will each take turns reading to one another and using the stopwatch to time. Each student will have one minute to read as much as the text as they can before time is up. Remember to read as fast and smoothly and do not skip any words. Once the time is up, each the partner timing will put a line where the reader start, indicating the number of words read. The partner will count all of the words up until this mark, which will show how many WPM.

5. After each partner has read, they will get to move their fireman up his ladder, depending on how many words the student read.


The teacher will have each student up individually and ask them to re-read Ants in a Can. I will note their fluency by making notes about whether they read smoothly, quickly, stopped rarely, or less smooth, less quickly, or stopped frequently.  I will also ask the children questions to test their comprehension of the story.


How did the ants start biting Ann?

What did Ann do?

Did she keep the ants on her farm?


_____Read Ants in a Can

_____Read smoothly, quickly, stopped rarely

_____Able to answer comprehension questions

_____Worked with partner cooperatively


Murray, Geri Ants in a Can

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