Growing Independence and Fluency

By: Ashley Troha



Fluent readers are readers who can recognize words automatically.  The reading becomes faster, smoother, and is even read with more expression.  Fluent readers can even begin to read silently, which is about twice as fast as oral reading. Beginning readers do not read fluently because they often have a word-by-word struggle as they read.  The question then becomes, "How do we help transform those beginning readers into more fluent readers?"  Well, we must use the direct approach of repeated readings and allow the students to mark off a fluency checklist so that they may see their own progress."


Fluency checklists and pencils

Whiteboard with marker

Days With Frog and Toad - Tomorrow pgs. 4-15 (Author - Arnold Lobel, Publisher - Harper Collins Publishers, 1979)


1. Say:  "First I want everyone to pay attention up here to the whiteboard as I read the sentence aloud.  [States sentence as if I was still trying to emphasize each letter]. 

My friend likes to play in the rain.

Mm-yy ff-rr-iii-ee-nn-dd lll-ii-kk-ee-sss tt-oo p-ll-a-y ii-nn tt-hh-e rr-aa-i-nn.

Can anyone tell me if would want me to read them a story like that?  [Students reply to the question].  Could you understand me very well?  [Students reply to the question].  What if I read the sentence like this?  [States sentence as if I was flying through it so no student can understand what is being said].


Can anyone tell me if you would want me to read a story to you this way?  [Students once again reply to the question].  Could you understand me very well this time?  [Students reply again].

[Discusses differences between two incorrect examples and how they can help explain our topic fluency].

In order to better understand what you are reading you must not read so slowly as I did the first time around.  You have to read faster and smoother.  The problem as we all saw when I read the sentence the second time, is you cannot read too fast.  Just like with reading too slowly, if you read too fast, you can have trouble remembering what you just read and may also skip words in sentences or even mispronounce words as well."


2.  Say: "Let's try another sentence on the whiteboard.  How about this one? [Writes the sentence: "My mother walks her dog around the park."  This time I want everyone to read the sentence with me.  We will do as I did with the first sentence sounding each letter of the sentence out slowly. [Students and I read sentence together very slowly].  Did you understand the sentence very well that way? [Students respond to question].  That's right!  We read too slowly to understand what the sentence actually meant.  Now let's read the sentence together really fast like I did with the other sentence. [Students and I read sentence together really fast].  Did you notice how we sounded all over the place?  Did it sound like any of the words in the sentence you read may have been left out this time? [Students respond].  Do you think there were any words mispronounced as you read the sentence fast? [Students respond again].  Now let's try reading this sentence one more time together but fluently.  Remember to read at a fast pace but smoothly so that everyone can understand what he or she is reading.  Ready, Go!" [Students and I read sentence together fluently].

3.  Say: "Now let's read more sentence and discuss expression.  Expression is a big part of being a fluent reader because once again you not only better understand what you are reading but it even makes reading more exciting and fun.  Expression can be used to help identify when we should express sentences differently.  For example, if we use an exclamation point instead of a period we know that the sentence should be expressed louder.  So let's try this sentence:  "I want to eat a cookie right now!"  Repeat it with me one time. [Students and I read sentence together with expression]. Can you hear the difference between the loud expression in this sentence and when I read the sentence:  "My mother walks her dog around the park?"  [Students give reponses].  Good job students!"

4.  Say: "Now I am going to pair all of you up into groups of two and you all will get the following materials:

The book- Days With Frog and Toad - Tomorrow pgs. 4-15 one each

Two pencils each

Two fluency checklist sheets each"


5.  [Discussion of book].  This story is about Frog and Toad who are best friends.  Toad is a very messy person who keeps saying he will put it off until tomorrow. Even though his friend Frog tells him he should not wait to clean, he does anyway and he accumulates a bigger mess.  You will have to wait and read the story to find out if Toad ever listens to Frog and is able to get his mess under control.


6. For assessment:  Say:  "Now let's practice fluency!  You and your partner will take turns recording each other's awesome fluency skills by using the fluency checklists provided.  The student recording first will be a great listener and pay attention as their partner reads the story Tomorrow in the book Days With Frog and Toad.  The story is from pages four to pages fifteen.  Then after your partner has finished reading it will be your turn.  After you each have had three turns of repeated readings you are good to go and you may return the checked sheet to your partner!  Remember though, you do not want to mark the checklist until the second and third readings of your partner.  In addition the reports you give after each markings you make should always be complimentary to your partner because we want to encourage them about fluency. Also remember when reading that you want be understood by your partner so you must read fast, smooth and with expression."




Meredith Willis, Finish Line Fluency


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