Let’s Rock and Read!

Lili Lydon

Growing Independence and Fluency

Rationale . . .

When first learning to read, students sound out syllables slowly and read without expression and necessary punctuated pauses. It is wonderful to see new readers transition from being unable to read to being able to read slowly, but our readers have to be taught to read fluently and with automaticity (meaning at some point, reading is simply natural and automatic) Being fluent and automatic allows more opportunity for reading comprehension since less time is spent figuring out the word or sentence. Students who can read fluently not only become successful readers, but many times lifelong readers because reading is natural and enjoyable to them.  This lesson will help students understand reading with speed and fluency by timing their reading speeds and having fellow students assess their fluency with worksheets three times.

Materials. . .

Class set of decodable text “Pen Pals” by Shelia Cushman, one per student

Stopwatches, one for every two children


Dry erase board and marker

One minute read charts, one per student

Fluency Rubric, one per student

Progress chart for each child (a tree with a monkey that climbs up to get bananas; the tree has numbers along it to signify how many words were read per minute; the monkey climbs the height associated with the number of words read in a minute)

One Minute Read Chart:

Name:______________________  Date:____________

1st minute: ______

2nd minute: ______

3rd minute: ______

Fluency Rubric:

Name:______________________  Evaluator:_______________________  Date: ____________

I noticed that my partner: (put an X in the blank)

                                                   After 2nd    After 3rd

Read Faster                                 ______      ______

Read Smoother                           ______      ______

Read with Expression                  ______      ______

Remembered more words            ______      ______


Procedures. . .
1. Introduce the lesson to your class. “Today we’re going to practice reading fluently and with expression.” Write the sentence My mom is the best! on the board. “Sometimes, right after students learn how to read, they get used to reading like this , ‘mmmmmmmmmmyy . . .mmm. . ommmm iis thhhhhhe bbbbbbbe bbeesssssst. When they start improving, they might read it altogether, but read it like a robot, ‘my mom is the best.’ It is so important for readers with expression. With this sentence, I see there is an exclamation point at the end, so I know that the speaker needs to be excited, not dull. My mom is the BEST! Can you all say that with me? Be excited just like I was. My mom is the BEST! Very good, class.”

2.   We can review our cover up skill as a class. “When we read and we come to a word that we don’t know, what strategy can we use to help ourselves finish? We can use cover up. (Write the word shrub on the board) If I came to this word in a sentence and I wasn’t sure what it was, I would cover up so I could only see the s and h and I would say, “shh. Sh..” then I would see the r, shhh… shhhrr. Then I would see the u, and with no e, the u says /u/, so shhhrrrrruuuu. Then I have the b. Shhhhrrruuub. Shrub. This cover up strategy is very helpful and can help us finish and understand an entire sentence.”

3.   Remind students that reading quickly is not the only goal. “Remember that reading fast is not the only thing we need to do. Let’s look back at our sentence on the board. If I read “mymomisthebest!” so quickly because I wanted to finish the sentence, I might not understand the sentence or understand part of the passage the sentence is in. We need to read at just the right speed so we don’t forget what we’ve read before, but so we’re understand what we’re reading right then. We can also crosscheck. (Write “The shrub had pink buds” on the board) If I read, “The Shrube had pink buds,” I would think, You know, that just doesn’t make sense. The shrube? Oh, shrub, like a bush or big plant. Shrubs have buds.

4.   Divide the class in pairs and give all students the two reading rubrics. Give a book talk on “Pen Pals.” “Today we’re going to read Pen Pals. It is about a little boy, Ben, who is sad because his pet can’t come in and play with him. You’ll all have to read Pen Pals with your partners to know whether Ben’s pet can come in to play.” One person will read first and the other student will record the reader’s progress. After reader number one has read, they will swap jobs. The recorder will set the stopwatch and have the reader to begin right when the clock starts and to stop after one minute. After the first minute, the recorder will take note to how many words were read per minute and the reader can move his or her monkey up the tree to the amount of words read. After reader number one is finished, the pair swaps and repeats.

5.   After both have been recorded on the minute chart, have them read to each other again and have the recorder make notes about the reader’s fluency. The reader and recorder will switch jobs again and repeat. Allow the students three readings by having both readers reading to each other again and each partner taking note on their fluency the third time.

6.   I’ll take up all of the one minute and fluency charts.

Assessment. . . 
7. For assessment, I will have each student come to the reading corner and read “Pen Pals” aloud to me while I have a checklist of the words in the story (there are 53). I will time each one individually and make miscue notes on my word sheet. After each student has read for me, the student and I will have a quick talk about Pen Pals individually so I can see if reading comprehension was part of the process.

References. . .
Cadrette, Mallory. Super Speedy Readers!  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/encounters/cadrettegf.html.

Cushman, Shelia. “Pen Pals.” Educational Insights: Carson, CA, 1990.

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

Return to Voyages Index