Racing Racecar Fluency



Jessica Heron


Rational: Fluent reading is the finish line to becoming a racecar reader.  Fluency is the ability to identify words accurately, rapidly, and automatically. It takes a great deal of time and practice to become a fluent reader.  When a student achieves fluency the reader has the talent to recognize words routinely and understand written text quicker than non-fluent readers.  There are three very significant skills needed to become a fluent reader: the ability to read faster, the ability to read smoother, and the ability to read more emotionally.  Repeated reading and buddy reading are two ways for students to work on their reading fluency.  Rereading texts allows students to learn to read more words per minute. Working with partners allows students to learn new decoding skills, as well as giving them more practice reading.  The more students read, the more their reading skills will advance. 

Materials: Paper, Pencils, whiteboard, Copies of The Claw at Dawn (Reading Genie) for every pair of children in the class, a stop watch, a Speed Record Sheet for each child, a Fluency Literacy Rubric for each child.

Speed Record Sheet

Name:________________           Date:__________

1st time:______

2nd time:______

3rd time:______


Fluency Literacy Rubric

Name:____________         Evaluator:____________         Date:___________

I noticed that my partner . . . (color in the circle)

           After 2nd                         After 3rd

               O                                    O                          Remembered more words

               O                                    O                          Read faster

               O                                    O                          Read smoother

               O                                    O                          Read with expression



1. Initiate the lesson with the students by saying, “Racecar reading comes with practice. Remember, practice makes perfect, so practice, practice, practice!”  Explain to the students that reading expressively, smoothly, and rapidly is the key to fluent reading.  Model and explain the meaning of expressively, smoothly, and rapidlyWhen a person reads with expression they put a whole lot of feeling and emotion in their voices and make what they read more exciting. When a person reads smoothly, they don’t hit many speed bumps as they read. When a person reads rapidly, they read racecar fast.” Then explain to your students that today they are going to read the same text a number of times so that they can learn how to become fluent racecar readers, and as a result their reading will become much more fun and exciting. Remind the students that fluent readers do not always know every word. They either read to the end of the sentence or use a silent cover-up method when they are stuck on a word. (Model this concept for the students if necessary).

2. Write these two sentences on the board: Ben did not like to wake up at dawn, but he felt a sharp claw in his back. It made him fall on the floor!  Read the sentence slowly to the students (modeling a poor non-fluent reader).  B-e-n did not l-i-k-e to w-a-k-e u-p at d-a-w-n, but he f-e-l-t a s-h-a-r-p c-l-a-w in his back. It m-a-d-e him f-a-l-l on the f-l-o-o-r! Sound out a few words at a snail’s pace and model the silent cover-up method on various words. Be sure to “think aloud” when using crosschecking methods. Then read the sentence expressively, smoothly, and, and rapidly Ben did not like to wake up at dawn, but he felt a sharp claw in his back. It made him fall on the floor! Ask the children if they liked the first time, I read the sentence or the second time. (The children should answer, the second time!) Praise them for the correct answer, and then explain to them that the second time I read with fluency!

3. Share a book talk with the children about The Claw at Dawn. “Ben is awakened at dawn when Scat pounces on his back. Ouch! What a tough way to start the day. Now Dad is laughing at him. Could it get any worse? To find out more, we will have to read the rest of the story.” Read the story The Claw at Dawn to the entire class. Provide all the students copies of this book and tell them to follow along so that they can become familiar with any new words that they may see.

4. Split the students into partners. Make sure each partner pair has a copy of the book The Claw at Dawn and a stopwatch. Give every person a Speed Record Sheet and a Fluency Literacy Rubric.

5. Tell the partners that one person will be the reader and the other person will be the recorder. After the first person has read, tell them that they will switch roles. The reader should start at the beginning of the book and read the whole book while being timed. Be sure the recorder knows to start the stopwatch when the reader begins and stop the stopwatch when the reader finishes. Then the reader will count all the words he or she cot correct. The recorder will write down the time it took the student to read the entire book on the Speed Record Sheet in the first blank. Then the partners will switch roles and repeat the same steps. The reader should try to be accurate and sound out the words he or she does not know. Speed and accuracy are very important factors on the first round.

6. After the partners have each finished the first round, have them start at the beginning and reread the story again repeating the same steps from the first round. Make sure to remind the students to record the number of words read correctly each time. The time it take to read the story should have increased. Speed, accuracy, and comprehension are important on the second round. Also remind the students to fill out the Fluency Literacy Rubric by coloring in the circles on how they thought their partner read on the second reading.

7. Finally, have the students start at the beginning of the book and reread the entire book repeating the same steps from the second round. Make sure to remind the students to record the number of words read correctly. The number of words read correctly should increase and the time it takes to read the book should get faster. Remind the recorder to notice if their partner is reading with expressiveness, speed, and accuracy. Also remind the students to finish the Fluency Literacy Rubric by coloring in the circles on how they thought their partner read on the third and final reading.

8. After the partners have finished filling out the Speed Record Sheet and coloring in the circles on the Fluency Literacy Rubric for how they thought their partner read, ask them to talk about the results with each other. Model these questions for the students: Did each partner improve on the words a minute they read?  Did each partner remember more words, read faster, read more smoothly, and read with more expression each new round that they read? Point out what rereading can do.  Explain to them that rereading makes you a racecar reader, it helps you read more expressively, and it helps you read more accurately. Also explain to the students that comprehension is the goal to reading.  The more you read the more fluent you will become.

9. Assess the students by having them individually come up to the teacher’s desk, read the book The Claw at Dawn, and time the children. Record each student’s time and chart his or her time on a graph. As you test each student have the other students continue to reread The Claw at Dawn silently, and then the student can move on to Tim’s Haul.  The class will partner up tomorrow and reread Tim’s Haul? for fluency improvement.


The Reading Genie:  Developing Reading Fluency.      

Murry, Geri. The Reading Genie 2013:

Strozier, Shaunita. Faster, Faster, We Need a Master.    


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