Shooting for the Stars

Growing Independence and Fluency

By: Abby Sykes


Rationale:  Being fluent is a major component in becoming an expert reader.  A good reader who may know most of the words in one text, may not be fluent in any text he or she tries to read.  It is important for the reader to gain general reading fluency so that he or she has a large enough sight vocabulary so that the reader can pick up just about any book and read it with ease.  Practicing fluency allows the reader to build many new sight words allowing them to read the text with less effort.  Repeated readings help students transition from slowly decoding to reading text effortlessly and automatically.  Being fluent allows the reader to excel in their reading ability by freeing up their brain to focus on comprehension of the text rather than sounding out the words.  It also allows them to read words automatically with great expression which engages them in the story and allows them to enjoy reading. 



-Cover-up critter

-Sentence Strip ["My little brother likes to play outside in the mud!"]

-Fluency Checklist for each student

-Class set of The Train Trip by Geri Murray

-"Shooting for the Stars" child-friendly graph with WPM labeled

-Record of students prior WPM

-The Train Trip by Geri Murray



-Reader's Theatre book choices

-Stopwatch for calculating WPM

-Checklist to record the children's Reader Response answers

Fluency Checklist: 



1. Say- "Becoming a fluent reader can help you understand what is going on in the book you are reading.  A fluent reader is able to read quickly, automatically, and with great expression so that it sounds like you are talking rather than reading.  One way to become a fluent reader is practice;  we can do this by monitoring each other and reading the same text over and over until we are able to read it very easily.  Because reading the words become easy, it allows us to comprehend what we are reading and makes reading fun!"


2. [Sentence strip with "My little brother likes to play outside in the mud!"]  Say- "Sometimes, even good readers make mistakes and have to practice making their reading smooth and expressive.  The first time I read something I may make mistakes, and it is very important to fix them because this is how we learn new words.  Mmee-Mmmyy-My liiittlle-little br/o/der-broTHer-brother(cover-up critter) licks to p-play Otside-outside (Oh, likes to play outside) in the m-mud.  Now that I have decoded and crosschecked the words to learn how they are pronounced I can read it faster. (Very structured and automatic) My little brother likes to play outside in the mud.  Now that I can read the words with ease, I am going to try to add expression because this makes reading more fun and the listeners enjoy the reading.  My little brother likes to play outside  in the MUD!"


3. Review- Say- "Sometimes when we are reading, we come to words we do not know and this can be very frustrating.  What are some techniques or strategies that we can use to help us learn the word so that we will be able to recognize it when we see it again?  (Talk about children's answers)  One that I really like is our cover-up critters because it helps me break the word into parts that I can sound out.  For example, when I first read the sentence above I was not sure what this word 'brother' was so I used my cover-up critter to cover everything but the vowel /o/.  There is the yawning o=/o/, br/o/-bro-th-er- br/o/ther.  After decoding the word I was able to finish the sentence (My little br/o/ther likes to play outside in the mud!), but then realized that br/o/ther did not sound right so that word must be brother.  Now, I am able to remember that in the word 'brother' the o makes the /u/ sound instead of the /o/.  These strategies help us to remember the words we have trouble with by mental marking the sounds in each word.  After we do this we are able to store those words into our vocabulary so we can recognize them in our future readings."


4. "To practice becoming a fluent reader we are going to do paired repeated readings where each partner will read the text three times.  To support our partner we are going to use a checklist to keep record of their improvement during the readings.  During the first reading the partner will write down what he or she notices about the reading.  Then, the next readings the partner will listen for improvement on remembering more words like the elephant who never forgets, reading faster like the cheetah who is the fastest animal of all, reading smoother like the swam who glides across the lake without making a ripples, and reading with expression like the monkey who uses his face and voice to dramatize the message.  The partner will check the boxes for each improvement he or she notices.  It is very important that we remember that all readers read differently and that we are all working together to become successful readers. This means that we only tell our partner that he or she is improving in remembering more words, reading faster, reading smoother, and reading with expression." 


5. Booktalk- "This book is about a little boy named Nate who is so excited to go on a train trip to pick up his friend.  He is very happy that they will get to play games and that he will actually be able to play with someone his own age.  On his train trip something happens and the train is suddenly stopped!  Nate is very scared and does not know if he will be able to make it to his friend on time.  Let's read to find out what happens!"  Remind students about the process of repeated readings, and giving compliments to their partner only based on the fluency checklist.


6. [The students should be divided into pairs and each student will be given the decodable text.]  The students will choose a spot in the room that makes them comfortable and take turns doing the repeated readings.  I will observe the pairs to ensure they are doing the task correctly(using the checklist properly and giving compliments based on the criteria given) and to guide students in their decoding strategies. 


7. After both partners have done the readings and completed the checklist, the students will return to their desks to have a group discussion about the book.

If extra time, the students will vote on their favorite Reader's Theatre book to choose roles, practice reading, and perform it in front of the class. 




-Each student will come to the Reader's Nook in the classroom to read, while I assess their speed using the "Shooting for the Stars" child-friendly graph and the WPM formula (Words x 60/ seconds) to keep record of their goals and improvements.

-I will also note miscues during the reading to keep record of the missing correspondences to give further instruction. 

-Use a fluency checklist to determine if the reader reads quickly, smoothly, and with expression.

-Ask the following questions after the reading to assess their comprehension:

            -Why do you think Nate got scared on the train?

            -What would you think when you woke up in a strange place?

            -What was your favorite part of the story and why?



-Geri Murray The Train Trip



-Katie Pendergrass


-How to Develop Reading Fluency


-Use the picture below to write the WPM leading to the big yellow star and use a child cutout to show the progression to the "Star" (Goal WPM).

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