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Climbing the Mountain of Fluency

Climbing the Mountain of Fluency

A Growing Independence & Fluency Lesson Design

Anna Dilworth



If an individual wishes to become a comprehensive reader, fluency is key. Fluency is the ability to read effortlessly with automatic word recognition. As automatic word recognition increases, so does the reader’s ability to read faster, read more words, and more deeply comprehend. Through this lesson, readers will be instructed on the importance of fluency, the strategies of crosschecking and decoding, and how to monitor and promote progress through repeated readings.


  • Fun in the Hills by Matt Sims (have a copy present for every student)
  • Display board with sentence “Sam and Ted are on a hike when they find a cabin in the woods”
  • Display board with sentence “Ted sat on the log by Sam”
  • Stopwatches (class set)
  • Personalized graph for rereading activity (one for every student)



1.    Explain: “Who all wants to became a master reader? Well, I have a secret for you that will help you become just this. Do you want to know what that secret is? To become master readers, we must be able to read fluently. When we read fluently, we read effortlessly with automatic word recognition. If we are reading with automatic word recognition that means that we have a sight vocabulary so large that it encompasses most of the words used in general information text. Once we are able to read with this type of accuracy, we will become master readers by increasing our speed as we read, improving our comprehension skills, becoming more expressive, and be able to read more and more advanced texts. So, you may be asking yourself, how do I get this type of sight vocabulary? And the answer to that question is through decoding, crosschecking, mental marking, and rereading.”

2.    Model: “Now, I want to model for you how we should always crosscheck when we come to a word that we might not know in a sentence. For example, if I am reading this sentence, [display board with sentence “Sam and Ted are on a hike when they find a cabin in the woods”] I would read “Sam and Ted are on a hike when they find a /c//A//b//i//n/, hmmm that does not sound right, I need to finish the sentence to see if that can help me, in the woods. Ohhhh that must be a /c//a//b//i//n/, cabin, in the woods. That makes sense! My last step is to reread the sentence to try out that word, cabin, one more time, and jump back into my story.”

3.    Model: “So, now that we know how to crosscheck, I want to show you how we can read fluently. The first time I read this sentence, I am going to read it like I am a non-fluent reader. Then, I will read it as a fluent reader and I want you to try to pick out the differences between the two types of reading. I am now going to read as the non-fluent reader [display board with sentence “Ted sat on the log by Sam”].  Ttttttttteeeeeedddd sssssaaaattttt on the llllllooooogggg by Ssssssaaaammmm. Wow, I feel like I was reading so slowing and stretching every word out so much that I do not even know what I read! And that is what happens when we do not read with fluency. It makes it much more difficult to understand what we are reading. Now, I want you to pay extra close attention as I read as a fluent reader. Ted sat on the log by Sam. Gee, I feel like I completely understood what the sentence was saying that time! That is because when we are fluent readers we do not have to use as much of our brainpower to stretch out words to recognize them but rather we recognize them automatically and smoothly. Now it is your turn. Let us try to read this sentence fluently together: Ted sat on the log by Sam. Great job!”

4.    Say: “We are now going to read one chapter out of the book Fun in the Hills. Book talk: This is a chapter book about two friends, Sam and Ted. One day, Sam and Ted are exploring in the woods and find a cabin that they think is abandoned. Shortly after discovering this cabin, the two boys figure out that it is in fact not abandoned. We will have to read to figure out what Sam and Ted find in the cabin.”

5.    Pass out a copy of Fun in the Hills to each student. Say: “Now we are going to practice reading fluently.  Remember, we are only reading one chapter today. So open your books to page one and read to the end of chapter 1. If you finish early, do not go onto chapter 2. Instead, you can begin to reread chapter 1.” Allow the students around 10 minutes to finish reading chapter 1. Walk around the classroom to make sure students are making progress through chapter 1. Once all the students finish, regain their attention for a group discussion. Use the informal assessment of asking questions to analyze students’ comprehension of the text.

6.    Say: “Now we are going to practice reading with fluency with a partner. We will be reading chapter 1 again but you will read aloud for only a minute, so it is ok if you do not get all the way through the chapter. I want everyone to find a partner. With your partner, choose who will be Reader 1 and who will be Reader 2. For the first round, Reader 1 will read aloud while Reader 2 times him or her for a minute with a stopwatch. Once Reader 1 has finished reading, students should switch roles. So now, Reader 2 will read aloud while Reader 1 times him or her for a minute with a stopwatch. After both students have read through the passage once, students will read through the passage aloud again. The only difference with this round is that the partner who is timing will mark the reader’s improvement from the first round on a checklist [refer to checklist at the bottom of the page]. This checklist is to be marked by the partner that is timing if you notice the reader remembering more words, reading faster, reading smoother, and reading with more expression. Once both partners complete a second round, the third round should be conducted in the same way.” Model this process with a student to help clarify to the class what your expectations for this activity are.

7.    Assessment: Once the students have finished three rounds of repeated reading, have each student turn in his or her checklist. Teacher should now call up students one by one and perform repeated readings with each student, graphing his or her progress on the fluency chart as he or she hopefully improves. In between each round of repeated reading, make sure to praise students on aspects of fluency and make suggestions when needed. After the three rounds have been completed, ask two comprehension questions: “What are Sam and Ted doing in chapter 1? Why did Sam and Ted need to run on the last page?”



Partner Evaluation:

Fluency Graph:

Teacher Fluency Checklist:

 Reading # 1


Total Number of words:                        




Reading # 2




Reading # 3




Did the student read more words? _______

Did the student read faster? ________

Did the student read smoother? __________

Did the student read with more expression? _________



McGehee, Mary Hope. “Reading is Our Expertise!” https://sites.google.com/site/ctrdmaryhope/home/gf-design

Sims, Matt. Fun in the Hills. High Noon Books: California. 2002. 27 pages.

Murray, Dr. Bruce. Developing Reading Fluency. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/fluency.html

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