Winning the Reading Race


Improving Reading Fluency

By Heather Henley



Reading fluency is a skill that has to be learned and only improves through practice. The more fluent a reader is, the more he or she will enjoy reading and will get more out of the process. When students have to take time to decode each word and do not have a large collection of sight words, he or she cannot focus on reading comprehension and might face some frustration while reading. This lesson focuses on cross checking, decoding, mentally marking words, and repeated readings to improve reading fluency.



Stop watches for each students

Fluency Checklist

Fluency Self-Evaluation

Fluency Partner Practice Checklist

Class copies of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus



1. Explain the activity:

Say: Today we are going to learn how to read a little bit faster with more expression and then we are going to practice. Reading faster and with expression helps the text make more since and also helps us to get the main idea of the text easier. Instead of trying to understand each word, we can focus on understanding the story as a whole.


2. Model fluent and nonfluent reading:

Say: I am going to read a couple sentences from our story twice. I want you to listen to each time I read and at the end we will decide which time I sounded better.

            1. Mr. Woo d-d-r-r-ove for a while. Th/e/n then the broke, I mean break, made             that l-l-l-oud, sipping noise again oh I mean screechy. I /k/o/v/er/d/ my ears so it couldn't g/e/t ins-s-side my head. 'Cause if loud, screechy I know that’s screechy b-b-b-ecause it was last time /n/oi/s/es/ g-g-et inside your head, you             have to take an medicine oh I think that’s /a/s/p/r/i/n/. I s-s-s-aw /th/a/t/    on a TV c-c-c-ommercial.

            2. Mr. Woo drove for a while. Then the brakes made that loud, screechy noise          again. I covered my ears so it couldn't get inside my head. 'Cause if loud,            screechy noises get inside your head, you have to take an aspirin. I saw that on a TV commercial.

Say: Raise your hand if your thought the first time was better? Okay who thought the second time was better? Right, the second time was better because I was being very fluent and it was easier for both of us to understand.


3. Review a strategy:

Say: Did you notice that I used mental marking while reading? I wasn’t sure how to read the word “screechy”. After I figured it out, I was able to mentally mark it and read it correctly the first time when I saw it again. When we mentally mark words it helps us when we come across them in the future.


4. Practice together:

Say: Let’s practice together. We are going to read out loud together the first sentence in chapter three. Everyone ready? Okay, The bus wasn't like my daddy's car at all. Good! I like how some of you were able to use a tone that suggested you were not happy. Just like how Junie B. is not happy about riding the bus.


5. Motivate to read:

Say: Before we read more, I want to tell you all about this girl, Junie B. Jones. Junie B. is a girl about your age and she is always getting into and causing trouble. She is told that she has to start riding the bus and, as you can tell from the title, she is not okay with this. Junie B. normally likes to get what she wants, so we will have to see how she handles having to ride the bus.


6. Explain the new procedures for paired practice:

Have these steps posted and also read them out loud.


Everyone get with this weeks reading partner and go to your assigned spot.


 One person come get two copies of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, two copies of the self evaluation sheet, two copies of the partner checklist, and two copies of “What did I read?”.


Together you will count and see how many words are in the chapter. When you have it raise your hand so that I can make sure you are right. Record this on your sheet.


The first person will read chapter three out loud to their partner, it starts with The bus wasn’t like my daddy’s car at all. And ends with She forgot my B. again.


While partner one reads, partner two will time them. After the first 30 seconds, stop and see how many words they have read. Record this on the sheet.


Continue the timer and continue reading. While partner one is reading, partner two will keep track of how many words are missed. You can make marks on your paper like this (demonstrate tally marks). Record this number on the sheet.


After reading partner two will complete the checklist with his or her opinion about how partner one did.


While partner two is doing the checklist, partner one will fill out the self-evaluation.


After this is done, switch roles and do the same thing.


After each partner has read, answer the questions on the sheet titled “What did I read”.


When you have completed everything turn all of the sheets into me and continue independent silent reading.


Any questions?



Any questions?



Grades will be given based on the following rubric:


Completed and turned in all three sheets: +3

Behavior was appropriate during reading time: +3

Comprehension answers were accurate: +2

Improved from last fluency exercise: +2

Total: +10



Self-evaluation checklist:

From Lyndsey’s “Year of Many Firsts” Blog.

Teacher checklist: Northside and Pinecreek Elementary School



Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus By Barbara Park. 1993, Random House Children's Book Publishers


Lesson Design Recourse:

Geri Murray, Reading is a Breeze!


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