On a Race to Fluent Reading!


Growing Independence and Fluency Design


By Haley Hollis



Rationale:  This lesson is important for improving reading, especially improving fluency. For students, fluency is about being able to decode words automatically with ease and if this is achieved students will be much better readers. They will read more quickly, the words they read will have meaning, and they will read smoothly. The main objective of this lesson is to help students become more fluent and this will be achieved by reading and rereading decodable words in connected texts. During this lesson the students will perform repeated readings to practice reading fluency by getting in pairs and doing one-minute reads.



-Timer or Stopwatch (for each pair of students)

-Class set of Fuzz and the Buzz (decodable text by Sheila Cushman) for each student

-Dry Erase Board

-Dry Erase Marker

-Assessment Worksheet:  Fluency Checklist (one for each student) -attached




1. Begin the lesson by briefly reviewing the u = /u/ correspondence by showing students a memorable hand gesture and showing them an example word.  Activate student knowledge by allowing them to brainstorm other words using the u = /u/ correspondence. Say:  “We know that when we see the letter ‘u’ it makes the /u/ sound.  It sounds like  ‘uhh...’  (Put finger to chin as if confused.)  Can you do that with me?  Uhhh...very    good!  Write the word "bug" on a dry-erase board. Say:  “Who can tell me what this says?  That's right, it says "bug."  This word has the /u/ sound in it.  Can you hear it?   Great!  Can you tell me some more words that have the  same sound in them?”Call on students individually and write additional words on the board as they say them.

 2. Introduce the lesson and do a Booktalk for Buzz and the Fuzz Say:  “Today we're going to read a book that may seem very easy for some of you, but we're going to work on reading it like grown-ups do.  This means that we are going to read it         fast and with expression to make it exciting!  We're going to read Fuzz and the Buzz. One day Fuzz goes for a walk.  Along the way he finds some nuts and tugs on them.  The nuts fall and hit Fuzz on the head and he is mad! Then bugs start to buzz around Fuzz and chase him.  Let's read the story to see how Fuzz escapes the bugs!”

 3. Go over the concept of fluency and give a quick example of non-fluent reading Say: “Today we will learn to read quickly, smoothly, and with expression.  When we read this way, we are able to really understand what we're reading, and it makes it much more exciting than when we read super slowly!  This is called fluent reading. Write the sentence "I want to drive a fast blue car" on the dry erase board.  Show how a non-fluent reader would read the sentence (slowly, with lots of pauses and no expression.) Say:  "Iii...wwannntt...to...ddrrii...driiivvee...a...faa...fassstt...bluuuuue...caar."  See?  This is how a non-fluent reader would read this.  It's not very exciting, is it?  It is harder to       remember what you're reading about when you read it slowly and have to stop a lot.”

4. Model fluent reading to students and explain it to them after explicit modeling. Say:  “Now I will read this sentence like a fluent reader would.  "I want to drive a fast blue car!"  See, didn't that sound better than the first time I read it?  I think so too.  I was being a fluent reader because I read quickly, smoothly, and with expression! Allow students to explain the differences they noticed in fluent and non-fluent reading. Say:  “Can anyone tell me how the sentence was different the first and second times I read  it?  That's right, the first time was slow, and I paused a lot between the words.  It wasn't smooth sounding.  Do you think it sounded a little boring?  Me too.  That was not fluent reading.  Very good, the second time was more expressive and exciting, and when I read it, it was fast and smooth.  That's how you read fluently!  When you can read this way, you will be able to understand and enjoy everything you read!” 

5. Divide students into partners ( be careful how students are paired; no two struggling readers together) and give directions for partner one-minute readings.  Hand out a copy of Fuzz and the Buzz to each student and a timer or stopwatch to each pair of students with a fluency checklist for each student. Say: “Take a minute to read the book silently to yourself so that you can get familiar with it……Now I’m going to tell you how we will do one minute reads. You and your partner will read the book 3 times a piece. I want you to use the stopwatch and time your partner for one minute while you listen to the read the book. At the end of the minute you will count how many words they read. You will have a piece of paper to record the results on. As soon as one partner has read 3 times you will switch partners and do the same thing.”

Model how to correctly use a stopwatch

Say:  “Do you have any questions?  Raise your hand if you need me and I will come help you!  Don't forget your listening ears!”

During the activity, walk around the room to check that the stopwatches and Fluency Checklists are being used correctly and that everyone is following the directions to correctly complete the timed readings.

 Assessment:As students start to finish, I will call them up to my desk to do one-minute reads with me.  I will chart the number of words they read as well as errors. I will consult their Fluency Checklist to see if their number of words read increased over the three trials or not, in order to know what steps are necessary to continue each student's development of fluency.



Fuzz and the Buzz.  Decodable reader by Sheila Cushman.  Illustrated by Patti Briles.  Publisher:  Educational Insights.  Carson, C.A., 1990.


Murray, Bruce.  "Developing Reading Fluency."  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/fluency.html


Adkins, Kerry. Growing Independence and Fluency Lesson Design.  "A Fabulous Fluency Party!"



Fluency Sheet


I noticed that my partner . . .


After second reading                 After third reading

_______________                     _______________      Remembered more words

_______________                     _______________      Read Faster

_______________                     _______________      Read Smoother

_______________                     _______________      Read with expression


One Minute Reading Sheet


Name:___________________   Date: _________________


1st Time: _________________________________


2nd Time _________________________________


3rd Time _________________________________





 Return to the Realizations index