The Reading Maze


Growing Independence and Fluency

Aubrey Etheredge



Rationale: In order to gain the ability to exercise comprehension while reading, students must learn to read fluently. While decoding is an important component of the reading process, it is slow; however, it can be sped up with fluency instruction. Fluency instruction allows students to transfer new words into automatically recognized words, also known as sight words. Repeated readings can be used to help students move from slowly decoding to automatic, effortless reading. This lesson instructs children on how to use strategies that build sight words. These strategies include: crosschecking for meaning, repeated reading of the text, and charting progress during paired partner reading. These strategies will enable students to progress toward fluency and comprehension while sustaining motivation to read and reread.



-Stopwatches for each set of student partners

-Fluency graphs for each child


-Class set of Mouse Soup by Arnold Lobel

-Partner Reading Progress checklists (see attached)

-Reader Response Form (see attached)




1) Explain the Activity

Say: When we are able to read smoothly and effortlessly, it's easy to understand the words and what's happening in a story. Today, we are going to learn how to pick up speed while we read. Once we learn how to do this, we will be able to read as smoothly and as naturally as we talk.


2) Model Fluent and Nonfluent Reading

Say: I am going to read a short passage aloud two times. When I'm done, we'll discuss which time I sounded better.


1: A /m-ow-sE/ mouse sat under a t-r, tr-ee, tree. He was /r-ed-ding/ a book. (Hmm…I think it should be reading a book. Some of these words are kind of hard, so I have to finish the sentences to see if I can get them right.) A /w-ee-zl/ jumped out and /c-o-f-d/ the mouse. (Oh, that should be caught, not coughed.)


2: Now, I'll read this passage again. A mouse sat under a tree. He was reading a book. A weasel jumped out and caught the mouse.


Put up one finger if you think I sounded better the first time. Put up two fingers if you think I sounded better the second time.


You're right, I definitely sounded better the second time. Why did the second time sound better to you? Exactly, I was faster, and didn't have to stop and figure out any of the words.


3) Review a Strategy

Say: Did you notice how I thought about what a word should be when I finished the sentence? This is called crosschecking. You can use crosschecking when you come to a word you don't know- all you have to do is finish the sentence to see if you can figure out the pronunciation. For example, when I thought the word might have been “coughed,” I realized that didn't really make sense once I finished the sentence. The word I was supposed to say was “caught”- the gh in that word is silent.


4) Practice Together

Say: Let's read the next line together as a class. There is one word you might not recognize. (Choral Read) “The weasel took the mouse home.” Some of you might have had trouble with the word “weasel,” but you used the rest of the sentence to help you figure it out. Good job!


5) Motivate to Read

Say: Let me tell you a little bit about the mouse and the weasel before we read any further. The mouse was having a great day, minding his own business, when the weasel came along and snatched him up. The weasel wants to make soup out of the mouse! The weasel is tough, but the mouse is smart- I wonder if he will be able to come up with a plan to escape the weasel and avoid being made into mouse soup.


6) Explain Partner Practice

While explaining the procedures, write directions on the board for students to reference.


Say: Now, we are going to practice some reading with our reading partner.

1: Pair up with your reading partner. One partner can come get the materials you'll need: 2 Partner Progress Checklists, 2 Reader Response Forms, 2 copies of Mouse Soup, and 1 stopwatch. Then, return to your reading places. While one partner is getting the materials, the other will count all the words in this chapter, and write that number at the top of your checklist forms.

2: Take 3 turns reading the chapter to your partner. While one partner is reading, the other partner will use the stopwatch to time your partner's readings.

3: Pay close attention to how many mistakes your partner makes each time they read. Make tallies (show tally line method on the board) for each mistake.

4: Then, subtract the number of tallies from the total number of words. Do this each time your partner reads. The answer to the subtraction problem goes on this line: ___ Words in ___ seconds.

5: After you figure out these progress measures, answer the two questions on the progress form about which turn was the smoothest and had the least amount of errors. Make sure to use complete sentences!

6: When you are done timing each other, discuss the answers to the two questions.

7: Each of you will write your answers on your own sheet of paper back at your desks.

8: When you turn in your papers and checklists, I will give you a graph and three stickers. Then, I'll write your name on your graph and your stickers will go in the time spaces to show your reading rates.

9. Take your graph to the reading board, on the fluency poster.




Grades are computed using the following rubrics:


Followed directions for completing forms


Improved speed


Improved accuracy


Answered all questions with complete sentences


Answers to questions were accurate/appropriate


Total Points



Reading Rate:




































Partner Reading Progress Checklist


Total # of words in chapter: ______


Reader: ___________________________

Checker: __________________________


1: ___ Words in ___ seconds

2: ___ Words in ___ seconds

3: ___ Words in ___ seconds


Which turn sounded the smoothest? _______

Which turn had the least number of errors? ______




Reader Response Form


Name ________________________________


Directions: On a separate sheet of paper, answer each question with at least one complete sentence.


1. What did the mouse do to try to escape the weasel and to avoid being made into soup?


2. Do you think the weasel will let the mouse get away? Why or why not?


3. What stories did the mouse tell the weasel?


4: What would you have done if you were the mouse? What would you have done if you were the weasel?


Lobel, Arnold. (1983). Mouse Soup. New York: Harper Collins.


Geri Murray, Reading is a Breeze!

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