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Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

Growing Independence and Fluency

Katherine Joa


Rationale: To become a successful reader one must read fluently, accurately, with expression, and consistently.  Fluent reading is essential in comprehending.  It is characterized by effortless word recognition.  This influences speed.  Instead of focusing on decoding word by word, students can instead reflect on what they are reading.  Through reading, decoding, crosschecking, mental marking, and rereading, students will be about to confidently improve fluency and grow into improved readers.  Students’ improvement in reading fluency during this lesson will be tracked through charting reading times. 



·      Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat by Cynthia Rylant (Class set)

·      Stopwatches (Class set)

·      Personalized graph to chart reading time

·      Cover up critter

·      Sentence written on board “The dog did a trick. “ and “The big cat is fat.“ (Keep covered until needed)



1.     Explain: “ In order to become expert readers, we need to be able to read fluently.  This means we read the words quickly, automatically, and effortlessly.  The main goal of fluency is to improve our sight vocabulary and help us better recognize words.  In order to become fluent we need to read a book more than ones so we become familiar with it.  This is called repeated reading.  Through repeated readings we can get really good at reading aloud and become expert readers!”

2.     Model: “Let’s practice how to find out a word by crosschecking.  If I came to the sentence “The dog barked at the door.” and I didn’t know the work barked I would use my coverup critter and start by finishing the sentence to see if the word made sense.  The dog did a /t//r//i//k/.  Hmm /t/r/i/k/, trick! Like a stunt. The sentence says the dog did a trick.  That makes sense now.  I had to reread the sentence so I could get the word automatically the next time I saw it.”

3.     Say: “Now I’m going to show you what a fluent reader sounds like compared to a non-fluent reader.  Let’s look at this sentence (written on the board).  The big cat is fat.  If I were not a fluent reader, I would read like this: the bbbiiiiggg cccaaattt is ffaattt.  I read that so slow and spaced out that I’m not sure what I read!  Now listen to the different when I read it fluently.  The big cat is fat.  I understood what I was reading and got the message because my words flowed together.  Now I want you to try.  Read the sentence fluently: the big cat is fat.”

4.     Say: “Today we are going to read Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat, but we will only read the first chapter.”  Booktalk: “While Henry and his father are watching TV, Mudge runs to the door the door, barking.  They open the door and what do they see?  A shabby cat sitting on the doorstep.  Do they clean up and keep the cat?  You’ll have to read to see.”

5.     Each student will receive a copy of the book and a coverup critter.  “Now I want you to start on page 5 and begin reading to yourself using your coverup critter.  If you finish the chapter do not go on to chapter 2.  You can reread chapter 1.”  Give the students 5-10 minutes to complete the task.  I will walk around and assess if students are moving along in their independent reading of the book.  After the students have finished reading, have a discussion about what was read.  I will assess comprehension by listening to student responses. 

6.     Explain to students what they will be doing next with the stopwatch and the checklist.  “I will assign half the class as Partner 1 and the other half as Partner 2.  Partner 1 will read chapter 1 aloud, while Partner 2 times them.  Then, partners switch roles.  After reading, you will talk to your partner about what you read (evaluating comprehension).  Then, Partner 1 will read chapter one aloud, while Partner 2 marks the checklist (read faster, read smoother, remembered more words, read with expression).  Then partners switch roles.  Repeat these steps once more (so that there are 2 timed readings and 2 checklist readings per child).”  Model this with a student if necessary for your students to understand what they are being asked to do.

7.     Assessment: At the beginning, perform individual assessments while students are completing their partner repeated readings by walking around and listening to students read.  Have the students turn in their score sheets after the repeated readings are finished.  Pull each student aside individually at the end, have him or her read after they've been practicing, and graph their speed so they can see their improvement as time goes on.  Also use this time to go over whether or not they were reading smooth, fast, with expression, and if they remembered more words.  If a student did poorly, have them try again with the teacher.  Ask: What did the cat look like? Did Mudge like the cat and how do you know?(Two comprehension questions)

Partner Evaluation:

Fluency Chart:


Teacher Fluency Checklist:

Name of Student:

Reading # 1


Total Number of words:                        




Reading # 2



Did The Student:

Read smoother?




Read with more expression?




***WPM is computed using the formula; words read x 60/seconds



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

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

Rylant, Cynthia. Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat. Simon spotlight. June 1996.  48 pages.

Shepherd, Kasey.  Read, Read, Repeat! http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/awakenings/shepherdkgf.htm

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