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Flourishing Into Fluency

Growing Independence & Fluency Design

Rationale: In order for students to become successful readers they must learn to read fluently. The goal of this lesson is to provide opportunities for students to begin developing their reading fluency skills. Fluency is characterized by automatic, effortless word recognition, which influences comprehension and speed. This lesson will allow students to practice reading silently, and then to a partner during a round-robin repeated reading activity. Reading silently is about twice as fast as oral reading, and while true that round-robin repeated reading is oral it becomes a familiar text that students are comfortable with which decreases embarrassment and inattention. Both help build fluency, and comprehension.  


  •    Paper
  •    Pencil
  •    White-board
  •     Dry erase marks
  •     Stopwatches
  •     One-Minute Read Chart
  •     Fluency Rubric
  •      Copies of Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark (Random House, 1997)


      1.  Say: In order to be the very best readers we can be we must be able to read fluently. Reading fluently means we read smoothly, rapidly, and with great expression. When we read fluently we do not struggle to decode or sound out words, instead we read at ease and spend more time enjoying and understanding what we are reading.

          2. Say: So today, we are going to practice developing our fluency skills. We will practice becoming more fluent by reading a few pages of a book more than once. Each time you read the book you will understand the text better, and you will slowly be able to read faster and faster. This is how you develop your fluency skills. But first I will model reading fluently.

      3. Say: Listen carefully while I model how to check to see if I am reading fluently. Everyone look at a sentence written on the board: Nate swam fast in the big race. Listen as I read this sentence aloud and let me know if it sounds like I am reading fluently or not. N-n-n, /a/-/a/-/a/, t-t-t, nat, oh wait a_e makes /A/. N-/A/-t, Nate swam f-f-a-a-s-s-t-t-, fa-s-t, fa-st, oh fast. Nate swam fast in the big r-/A/-k-e, Nate swam fast in the big rake. Oh, that doesn't make sense. It must be race. Nate swam fast in the big race. Did I sound like a fluent reader? No, I didn't. I had to decode the words in the sentence, which took away from me enjoying reading the sentence. Did you see the frustration wrinkle in my forehead? Here's how to read that sentence fluently (read with excitement): Nate swam fast in the big race! This time I did not have to sound out any of the words. I read smoothly and it was easier to understand; I also read with great expression. Didn’t I sound happy? Now it’s your turn! Turn to a partner and practice reading the second sentence on the board. Jake played in the sand, he found many shells! Read it aloud to your partner repeatedly until you ran read it fluently. When each partner has read the sentence three times both partners put two thumbs up!

      4. Say: Now let’s think back to when I read my practice sentence. I got stuck on the word race. In order to figure out how to read it, I had to go back and reread the sentence from the beginning to check to see if my pronunciation made sense. When I read “swam fast in the big rake” I knew that didn’t sound right, and that it did not make sense. When I re-read the sentence, I realized the word actually said “race”. This strategy is called crosschecking; you can use it to check our pronunciation of unfamiliar words.

         5. Say: Now you are going to practice developing your fluency by reading Helen Keller: Courage in the Darkness. As a child Helen Keller got really sick, and this sickness left her blind and deaf. Struggling to adapt to life with these challenges Helen’s parents hired Annie Sullivan to assist with raising and educating her learning to communicate with others. Does Annie Sullivan help Helen Keller? Will Helen Keller adapt to life? We have to begin reading to find out!

        6. Say: I want everyone to take out their copies of Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark. Listen very carefully while I model how to read fluently. (Teacher reads pages 4-7) Now I want everyone to silently read pages 8-10. Remember: try to read fluently and expressively but be sure to enjoy what you are reading and make sure you understand what you are reading! When you have read these pages write a response to the two questions on the board and turn them in to me. (Teachers should write the following questions on the board: 1) What do you think will happen in chapter two? 2) Why do you think so?)

           7. Say (teacher must explicitly give these directions and then walk around to monitor student’s progress): After everyone has turned their predictions in to me I want you and your partner to find a quiet place in the room for our next fluency activity. You will practice reading fluently by doing repeated readings with your reading partner. When each pair is seated with their books and pencils I will come around and give out a stopwatch and two fluency rubrics. Next I want you to choose who will read first and who will listen first. Each person will read pages 11-16. The reader will read the section one time; the listener should just listen to them read the first time. Then, the reader will read the section two more times. During the second and third reading, the listener should be listening for the following things: Does your partner remember the words? Do they read faster this time than the last time they read? Do they read smoother this time than the last time they read? Are they reading with great expression? The listener will answer these questions by filling in the fluency rubric that asks these questions after the second and third time their partner reads. When the first reader is done you will switch roles with your partner, and be the listener or reader and repeat the activity.

         8.  Next have students return to their seats. For the assessment students will be called up individually to complete three one-minute repeated reading activities. The teacher will start the stopwatch as the student begins to read. The student will be instructed to begin on page 18. As the student reads, the teacher should count how many words the student reads correctly. After one minute, the teacher will stop the stopwatch, and record how many words the student read correctly on the chart. Repeat two more times. I will then ask students comprehension questions to help determine if they have begun to develop fluency skills.

·         Comprehension Questions:

1.      Based on what we’ve read so far, what two things were wrong with Helen?

2.      Who did her parents hire to help her?

3.      What was the name of the school Helen went to?

4.      How did Anne teach Helen words?

         9. The other students should be instructed to silently reread pages 11-16 and write another response to the two questions on the board. These activities


o   Clarke, Kate. “Ready, Set, READ.” https://sites.google.com/site/kmc0044ctrd/home/growing-independence-and-fluency-lesson

o   Hurwitz, Johanna. Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark. Random House Books for Young Readers, 1997.

o   Murray, Bruce. Making Sight Words.

o   Wilson, Haley. “Fast and Furious: Fluency on the Bus.” http://www.auburn.edu/~haw0003/wilsongf.htm

o   The Reading Genie. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/


 One Minute Read Chart:

             Teacher: _________________________

             Student: ___________________________

1st Minute: _________________________

2nd Minute: _________________________

3rd Minute: _________________________


 Fluency Rubric:

Reader: __________________   Listener: __________________   Date: __________________ 

I noticed that my partner: (Put and X in the blank)

                                                            After 2nd          After 3rd

Read Faster                                        ________                    ________       

Read Smoother                                   ________                    ________       

Read with expression                          ________                    ________       

Remembered more words                    ________                   ________     


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