"Learning Fluency with the Wild Things"

Growing Independence and Fluency

By: Mary Kathryn Donner


Rationale: In order for students to be fluent readers they must read quickly, automatically and expressively. Fluent readers enjoy reading! It is not only important for fluent readers to be able to decode accurately, but it is also important for them to be able to read with ease and speed. This makes reading more enjoyable for students and eventually leads to students reading for learning and enjoyment! One great way to increase fluency is through repeated readings. Reading a passage over and over again enables students to become more fluent by making all the words of the text sight words. In this lesson, students will gain fluency through repeated readings of their parts of a reader's theatre.



-          Copy of the reader's theatre, Where the Wild Things Are, for the children and teacher

-          Scripts for the reader's theatre (URL in reference section)

-          Copy of what you will read as the example of the fluent reader (I will have "The girl's favorite flower is a sunflower. She likes that they are yellow" on a strip of paper for me to put on overhead.)

-          Copy of assessment text, A Job for Karla, and comprehension questions (all included on one page; this is in the reference section)

-          Stop watch or timer

-          "Partner critiquing sheet for fluency"




1.     I will explain to the students what being a fluent reader means. "It is very important that we all become fluent readers because fluent readers have fun when they read! When a reader reads fluently their reading sounds nice and smooth. It is very easy to understand what you are reading when you read fluently! I want each one of you to become fluent readers! This will make reading fun for each one of you."

2.    "When you are trying to read fluently there will be times that you need to crosscheck. When you come to a word that you do not know you can first try to decode it. If you cannot figure it out by decoding it you need to finish the sentence and see if you can decide what the word is based on the context of the sentence. This is called crosschecking. For example, I read the sentence "After school I went home." After school I went h-o-m. hom? Oh! Home! After you figure out what the word is, based on the context of the sentence, make a little mental note in your head about anything about the word that is irregular. After you have crosschecked and made a mental mark you can reread the sentence smoothly and fluently since you now know all the words in the sentence. "After school I went home!" These are good reading practices that will help you make sight words quickly and will enable you to become a fluent reader quickly."

3.    "I am now going to model for you how to practice reading fluently. I want you to notice the steps I take to get to fluent reading. I also want you to notice how much nicer it is to listen to someone read fluently than it is to hear someone read non-fluently."


I am going to read the following sentences from a text: "The girl's favorite flower is a sunflower. She likes that they are yellow. "


First reading of the sentence: "The girl's fav-fav-favorite (/It/) floawer is a sun-sun-sunflower. Oh! The girl's favorite flower is a sunflower. She likes that the-thee are yellow (/ow/). Oh she likes that they are yellow."


"In this example I used crosschecking to figure out what the words that I did not know were based on the context of the sentence. When I did this I made a note in my head about the following things. I notice that the i in favorite says a short /i/ sound. I also noticed that ow says /ow/ not /O/ in flower and sunflower.


"That first time was slightly hard for me! After I have gotten all my words by crosschecking I will reread these sentences faster."


"The girl's f-favorite flower is a sunflower. She likes that they are yellow. "


"Wow! That time I read so fast, but I need to read that again with more expression."


"The girl's favorite flower is a sunflower. She likes that they are yellow."


"Wow! That just sounded like beautiful reading to me! I even enjoyed reading the sentence so expressively and you all probably enjoyed listening to me read it. I also learned from the reading that this girl loves sunflowers because they are yellow! This kind of reading is the kind of reading I am hoping each of you will get to!"


4.    To practice reading fluently we are going to participate as a class in a reader's theatre. "We are going to do a reader's theatre as a class and we are going to use the book Where the Wild Things Are. Everyone is going to have a part, and the most important thing is that you can read your assigned part fluently." Each student will have a few lines of the theatre text to read. I will have each student sit quietly with a shoulder buddy. I will hand out each student's assigned lines for the reader's theatre. I will instruct the students to read to themselves quietly first. This will give the students a chance to decode, crosscheck, and reread. Hopefully this will give them a chance to get comfortable with the text before reading it aloud to a partner. They will then read to their partner and help each other with fluency tips. This will also be an opportunity for the students to practice reading their lines out loud to someone else. The partners will use the "partner critiquing sheet for fluency" to share with their partner what they can work on in order to better their fluency and expression"

5.    Explicit instructions for what to do with your partner:

                                         i.    Read your part to yourself silently (decode, crosscheck, mental mark, and reread)

                                        ii.    Read your part to your partner and then let them read their part to you

                                      iii.    Read the parts back and forth to each other practicing fluency and expression in preparation for our reader's theatre.

6.    After everyone has practiced their part with their buddy we will come back together as a class and I, as the narrator, will lead us in our reader's theatre. We may have some props to make the theatre interesting and fun!

7.    After we do our reader's theatre, I will lead a class discussion about their experience with fluency in our reader's theatre exercise. We will discuss what was helpful to them in increasing their fluency. We will discuss how fluency effected their enjoyment of reading. We will discuss how fluency made the reading more smoothly.

8.    Assessment: For the assessment I will have students work with a partner again. I will have a short passage, A Job for Karla, prepared for each child. Students will partner up with their shoulder buddy again, and they will time each other reading this short passage (each pair will be given a stop watch or timer).

                                         i.    Students will read A Job for Karla quietly to themselves.

                                        ii.    Students will take turns reading this passage out loud to their partner as their partner times them. Partners will record the time it takes for each student to read the text. Students will do this 2 times. Students will also be instructed to fill out a "fluency partner check list" as their partner reads aloud and then rereads aloud. I hope that their score will increase as they reread the passage.

                                      iii.    After partner-timed readings, the students will return to their individual desks to answer a couple comprehension questions about the passage in their reading journal to check their reading comprehension. Fluency is made up of speed, accuracy, and comprehension. Comprehension is a major part of fluency! After all, comprehension is the ultimate goal of fluent reading!

                                       iv.    I will come around the classroom at the end of the class period and I will calculate their reading per minute (words x 60/seconds), and I will grade/check their comprehension questions.


This will give me a measure of the student's reading speed and accuracy. This will be a fairly good measure of the fluency of the students in my class. This will also give me an idea about what students I need to spend more time with in an effort to increase their reading fluency!



Barron, Anne. Fun and Fluent.


Sendak Maurice, Where the Wild Things Are: http://web.archive.org/web/20060117005325/http://hometown.aol.com/rcswallow/WhereWildThings.html


Assessment passage and comprehension questions:


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