"Swingin' Through Reading...With Nothing Slowing Us Down!"

Growing Independence and Fluency

By: Elizabeth Earnest

Rationale: Although learning to read by decoding is very important, it can be a slow and difficult process. Slow reading can greatly affect reading comprehension. The reading process can be improved with fluency instruction. Fluency instruction can help turn unfamiliar words into automatically recognized words, or sight words. Repeated reading can help a student move from slowly decoding each word to reading words automatically and effortlessly. This lesson teaches students to use strategies to build their sight word vocabulary by crosschecking for meaning, repeated reading of the text, and charting progress in paired partner readings to maintain students’ motivation to reread.



Stopwatches for each pair of students; fluency graphs for each child; monkey stickers; class set of Mouse Tales; fluency checklist (A); reader response form (B)

(A) Fluency Checklist:

Partner Reading Progress

Total Words in Chapter: ____

Reader: ___________________

Checker: ___________________


Reading #1: _____Words in _____ Seconds

Reading #2: _____Words in _____ Seconds

Reading #3: _____Words in _____ Seconds

Reading number that sounded the smoothest: #____

Reading number that had the fewest mistakes: #____




(B) Reader Response Form:

Name: _____________________


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


1. Why do you think the mouse was throwing a penny into the well?


2. How would you feel if you threw a penny into a well and it yelled “Ouch!” back at you?


3. What did the mouse do so that the well did not hurt when she threw the penny in?


4. Write about what you would wish for if you were throwing a penny into a wishing well.



1) Explain the activity:

Say: “Today, you are going to learn how to read more quickly. This will help you to read as smoothly and naturally as you talk. When you can read smoothly and naturally, it is easier to understand the words and focus on what is happening in the story while you are reading.


2) Model fluent and non-fluent reading:

Say: I am going to read a short passage to you two times while you listen carefully. When I am finished, I will take a vote on which reading sounded better. (1) “I wis-h, wi-sh, wish t-his, th-is, this well wo-uld, woul-d, would not say oo-uch, ou-ch, ouch” she said. (Ouch makes more sense than oo-ch. I am having trouble with some of these new words so I have to finish the sentences to see if I can figure them out.)  “OUCH!” said the we-ll, well. “That h-urts, hu-rts, ohh hurts!”  (2) Let me try that again. “I wish this well would not say ouch,” she said. “OUCH!” said the well. “That hurts!”


[Ask for a show of hands] Who liked listening to my first reading? What about the second time I read the passage? Why did the second reading sound better to you than the first? That’s right! I didn’t have to stop to decode or sound out any of the words.


3) Review a strategy:

Say: Did you notice how I used the strategy of crosschecking when my sentence did not make sense or I couldn’t figure out a word? I finished the sentence to see if I could figure out the pronunciation of the new word that I was having trouble with, like the ou in ouch that says “ow.” At first, I pronounced it “oo,” but then I realized that it didn’t sound like a real word that I had heard before. When I finished the sentence, I could tell what the word was supposed to be: ouch instead of ooch.


4) Practice together:

Say: Let’s all try reading the next line on the page together. I see some tough words in the next sentence. [Choral read: “What shall I do?” cried the mouse.] I heard some of you having trouble with the words shall and cried, but you used the rest of the sentence to figure out what the word was supposed to be. 


5) Motivate to read:

Say: Before we go any farther with our activity, let me tell you a little bit about our story. It is about a little mouse who just wants to make a wish at a wishing well, but the well will not grant her wish because it hurts when the mouse throws her penny into it. Will the mouse find a way to have all of her wishes granted? I wonder how she will keep from hurting the wishing well when she tosses her penny.


6) Explain the new procedure for paired practice:

While explaining, write directions as steps on the board or post under the document camera for students to refer to as needed.


Say: Here are the directions for what you are going to do next:

1. Pair up with a reading buddy. One of you will come and get two Partner Reading Progress checklists and two Reader Response Forms from the back table. Then, go to your designated reading spot. While one of you is doing this, the other one will count all of the words in this chapter and write that number at the top of your checklist forms. 

2. Take turns reading the chapter (“The Wishing Well”) to each other. You will each take 3 turns! While one reads, the other will use the stopwatch to time the reader’s readings.

3. Pay close attention to how many mistakes your partner makes each time and take note of them using tallies. Make one tally for each mistake. [Model how to write tallies on the board.]

4. Then, do a subtraction problem to find how many words your partner read correctly. You will write the total number of words minus the number of tallies for that reading. That number goes on the line that says: ___ Words in ___ Seconds.

5. After determining what progress your partner made, answer the two questions on the progress form about which turn was the smoothest and which had the least amount of errors.

6. When you are finished timing each other, discuss your possible answers to the reader response questions.

7. Then, each of you will write your answers on a separate sheet of paper when you get back to your desks.

8. When you turn in your papers and checklists, I will hand each of you a graph of a tree and three monkey stickers. I will figure out your three reading rates. After putting your name at the top of the graph, you will put your monkeys in the time spaces to show your reading rates.

9. You’ll put your completed monkey chart on the front bulletin board on the fluency poster.




Grades are computed using the following point system:


Following direction for completing forms: ___/1

Improved in speed: ___/2

Improved in accuracy: ___/2

Answered 4 questions with complete sentences: ___/4

Answers accurate/appropriate: ___/3

Total Points: ___/12



Lobel, Arnold. (1972). Mouse Tales. New York: Harper Collins.

Photo image: http://asiapen2010.blogspot.com/2010/11/big-dream.html

 Lesson Design Resources:

Murray, Geri. Reading is a Breeze! http://www.auburn.edu/~murrag1/murraygf.htm


Fluency Graph:


Reading Rate Chart


















WPM           1st             2nd            3rd

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