Fast as a Fox

Growing Independency and Fluency


Yvonne Flanary


In order for students to be fluent readers, they must read smoothly, with expression, and fast. Once a student is able to accomplish these skills, he or she will be on their way to becoming an independent reader. The goal of this lesson is to learn to read quickly and fluently. If a student is reading slowly, then the teacher needs to help the student choose a book that is just right for reading and on the student’s instructional level.  The activities that the students will do today to reach their goal will be repeated timed reading and answering comprehension questions at the end of the story.

Materials: A clock timer for teacher, the text Go Away Dog by Joan L. Nodset Harpercollins, (copies for every student)    class set of pencils, cover up critter, and writing paper.


1.      The class goal for today is to work on reading quickly. The reason why it is important to read quickly is because it builds sight words, so that they can instantly recognize everything they read. By doing this, students are better able to focus on what is happening in the story. I will need you to listen carefully to the instructions I am going to give you. First, I will be using a timer today and when I start the timer, this will be your cue to begin reading your text that has been provided to you. When you hear me say “stop”, I will need you to count and write down how many words you have read in the specific paragraph I assign you to at the top of your page. Make sure you write the “words” next to the number so that you will remember what this is for. (I will write an example of how to do this on the whiteboard.) Second, I would like for you to use the cover up critter that I have provided to you for decoding unfamiliar words. (I will model this procedure for the students.)

2.    For a review step, the students will use the strategy of crosschecking because this helps them read for comprehension which is the point of all reading instruction.

3. As I have discussed with you already, today are goal is to learn to read quickly and fluently.  In order to increase our successfulness of reading quickly, we are going to read Go Away Dog several times.

Book Talk:  I am going to read you all a story about a big dog who wants to play, but the little boy in the story does not want to. Do you think he can make the dog go away? Today we will read this story several times in hopes of helping us learn to read quickly and fluently.

4.        Now, I am going to have you all time my reading. I am going to try to read as many words as quickly as I can in two paragraphs, while focusing on the plot of the story. My goal is to see how many words I can read per minute. I will have you all do the same thing, so make sure you are paying close attention to what I am doing. I am about to set my timer for one minute and when it beeps, I will have to stop reading. (I will have them watch a clock on the wall in order to help me keep up with the time.) I will model this for the students a few times so that they are able to see that my reading is faster and smoother each time I read the passage. We do not always recognize all the words in a story instantly so after we figure them out by decoding them, we can reread the story and understand what is going on. Each time we read, it’s a little smoother and faster. I will provide a script on the board in order to give a better demonstration of how my reading improves each time.

   The bird is on the car.


Using this sentence I will show you how a reader becomes fluent reading new words. First I will demonstrate a non-fluent reader. The /b//i//r/ d/ is on the /c//a//r/.  I had to decode two words I wasn’t sure of and I’m still not sure what they are. I’m going to try that again. [The teacher repeats the text by blending the phonemes together and crosschecking.] The /b//i/ /r//d/ oh, bird – The bird is on the /c//a//r/, oh car?  I’m going to read it a third time because I know the words now, and I want it to sound smooth: The bird is on the car. It made sense when I read it smoothly the third time. I wonder if the bird is supposed to be on the car!

Ok class, I read one paragraph during the minute. Now I am going to write my time given and the amount of words I read. I want you to watch carefully so that you can see how I do this.  I am writing a “1” with a circle around it so that you can see that was the amount of time that I was allowed to read. I will then write “1” paragraph as an indicator of how many words I read in one minute. I will write this on the whiteboard or smart board so the students have a visual representation of how I would like for their results to be recorded. Say to the students, “I would like for you to do the exact same thing except, you will have one minute to read the first paragraph silently to yourself.”


 5. Guided Group Practice: (Choral Reading) Let’s try reading the first paragraph of the story together.  “Go away, you bad old dog. Go away from me.” I heard some of you having trouble with away, but you used the rest of the sentence to figure it out.

6. Pass out the books to the students. Say to the students, “Now I am going to pass out Go Away Dog to each of you. I want you to read the second paragraph. Wait to begin reading until I say, “start”. When you hear my timer beep, it will mean that your one minute has ended. I will say, “Stop” and tell you to close your book.

7. Set the timer and have the students begin reading by saying, "start". Give them one minute to read and tell them to stop when the timer goes off.

8. Now tell the students, "Ok, everyone, time is up. Please close you books. Now I need you all to take out your writing paper. Draw a 1 with a circle around it. This tells us the amount of time you all had to read. Next to that, I want you to write the number of words you read in your paragraph. Please write “words” next to that number so we will know it is the number of words read in that paragraph in the time allowed."

9. Ask the students, "How did you all do?" "Would any of you like to share the number of words read?" The students should share how many words they read and discuss what they read about in the story.

10.      After students have finished the third trial, have another discussion about the activity and the story. At the end of the activity, take up all paper with recorded results (make sure each has the child's name) and use these to help determine the specific needs of the students regarding reading fluency.

11.     Assessment: Have children answer comprehension question about the story to focus on what was important in the story. “What was this story about?” “How would you feel if a dog came to play with you and you did not want to?” “What would you do?” The students will also use a speed reading record check sheet.

Speed Reading Record:


  Name:_________________________            Date:___________


     - After 1st read            _______

     - After 2nd read           _______

     - After 3rd read            _______


-Partner Check Sheet for students to assess their partner's fluency:

 When I listened to my partner read:

                                                         After 2nd           After 3rd

       1. Remembered more words         _______          _______

       2. Read faster                                  _______          _______

       3. Read smoother                            _______          _______




Michelle Strowd 
Growing Independence and Fluency






Meisel, P., & Meisel, P. (1999). Go away dog. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

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