Growing Independence and Fluency

"Hopping Into Fluent Reading"

By: Katie Olk


  Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and quickly. When fluent readers read silently, they recognize words automatically. They group words quickly to help them gain meaning from what they read. Fluent readers read aloud effortlessly and with expression. Their reading sounds natural, as if they are speaking. Readers who have not yet developed fluency read slowly, word by word. Their oral reading is choppy and plodding.

Fluency is important because it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension. Because fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding the words, they can focus their attention on what the text means. They can make connections among the ideas in the text and between the text and their background knowledge. In other words, fluent readers recognize words and comprehend at the same time. Less fluent readers, however, must focus their attention on figuring out the words, leaving them little attention for understanding the text. Students will gain fluency through repeated readings, timed readings, and one-minute reads.  It has been proven that the more students read the more their reading skills will improve.


One sentence strip with the sentence  "The little green frog hopped off the lily pad to try to catch a fly" for every group

Stopwatch for every group

One copy of Days with Frog and Toad for every group,

Poster with lily pads on it, placed so that the lily pads get closer to the top of the poster where there is a fly; The lily pads have numbers on them that represent the number of words read; cut out frog for each student

One copy of The Missing Snake, decodable reader



    1.Explain to students what being a fluent reader means.  "It is very important that we all become fluent readers.  To be a fluent reader, you must read with speed and ease.  Being a fluent reader helps us to understand what we are reading because we do not have to stop and think about "sounding out" each word, instead we can focus on understanding what the story is about.   When we are fluent readers our reading sounds much nicer and smoother.  It also allows us to enjoy what we are reading!" 

    2.Demonstrate a fluent reader and a non-fluent reader.  "Listen to me as I read a page from the book The Missing Snake.  This is how a fluent reader would read this sentence, Mmmmy nnaaaammme iiiissss   JJJaaannne.  I ccaan tttaaake the cccaaassse. .  (Read one sentence from the book) (The first time read the sentence very slowly, without expression, and choppy.)   Now I am going to read the same page from The Missing Snake  again.. (Read the sentence slowly and without expression).  How do you feel about how I read that sentence?  Does it make you want to listen to me read the whole story?   This time I am going to read like a fluent reader.  (This time read the text faster, with ease, and expression.)  That it what a fluent reader sounds like.  They read the text quickly, smoothly, and with expression.  Our goal is for everyone to be a fluent reader."

    3.Explain to students that they are going to be doing repeated readings.  "To help  make you a more fluent reader, we are going to practice by doing repeated readings. I am going to assign you with a partner and  then you and your partner will  take turns reading.  I am going to give each pair of you  a sentence on a piece of paper.  I want each of you to read the sentence aloud to your partner. Don't worry if you are not reading like you think a fluent reader should read the first time, by doing repeated readings and hearing your partner read you will get better each time. .  By the end, you will be reading more fluently because you are familiar with the words and you will not be concentrating on decoding each word."  Pass out to each group a sentence strip with the sentence "The little greem frog hopped off the lily pad to try to catch a fly".  Pairs will be given a few minutes to take turns reading the sentences.  When the teacher sees that each pair has had adequate practice then move to the next part of the lesson, connecting the practice to text.

    4.Explain to the students that they are going to be doing one minute reads.  "
Now we are going to practice reading in order to become more fluent in another way, a one minute read.  Each pair will be reading the book Days with Frog and Toad.  Frog and Toad are very good friends and they like to do fun things together. Sometimes Frog and Toad get into some mischief while they are having fun. I want you  to read the book to find out what kind of mischief and  fun things Frog and Toad do together. I am going to give you a copy of the book, a stopwatch and a sheet to record how many words that your partner reads.   While one person is reading their partner will be timing them.  The reader should read as many words as they can.   The reader will read for one minute four times.  After each one minute, the timer will write down the number of words the reader reads.  After the first person reads four times then switch and let your partner do the same thing. When we are finished I will give each of you a frog and you will put your highest number of words on it an put it on the lily pad that is closest to the number of words you read.  Your goal is to get as close to the fly as you can by the end of your four readings.   I will be walking around the room.  If you need help, just raise your hand

  As the pairs of students are doing their one minute reads the teacher will circulate among the pairs and assess their progress. Students should demonstrate increasing fluency as they do more repeated readings.  After the students have finished the activities the teacher will continue to do two one minute reads with each student individually to assess all aspects of fluency.


Adams, Jennifer.  Off to the Races! 

Clabby, Caitlin.  Ready! Set!Go! 

Lobel, Arnold.  Days with Frog and Toad.  Harper Collins Children's Books, 1984. 

Phonics Readers-Long Vowels:  The Missing Snake  Scott Foresman, 2008

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