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Growing Independence and Fluency: Pass the Panther

Pass the Panther

Growing Independency and Fluency


By: Julia Lolley


Rationale: In order to increase fluency in reading, students’ focus should be on reading faster, smoother, and with more emotion rather than on accuracy. As students’ fluency increases, their comprehension grows, which in turn helps them enjoy reading more. The more you practice reading, the faster the students can read. Helping students read faster is a key component to increase comprehension understanding as well. It's important to develop fluency because students can focus on the meaning of the text rather than decoding. This lesson will help readers improve their reading speed while comprehending the text. The student will work with a partner to chart their reading rates.


  • Class set of What Will the Seal Eat? By Cushman and Kornblum
  • Fluency graphs (panther and jungle path)
  • One stop watch for every pair of students
  • Fluency checklists for each student
  • Reader response forms for each student
  • Pen and pencil



o   1. Say, “Before we begin our new lesson, who remembers the way to figure out a word you’re having trouble reading? Right, we use cover-ups.  And what part of the word do we want to look at first? Yes, the vowel.  After we find the vowel, we add in the beginning sounds and then the end sounds to form our word.” 

o   2. Say, “I’m going to figure out this word as an example of our vowel-first cover-ups (write the word dog on the chalkboard). First, I’m going to cover everything other than the vowel up. Okay, this vowel says /o/. Now I’m going to look at the beginning- d. D says /d/. So far I have /d/ /o/, that’s /do/. Now the end—it says g. G says /g/. So /do/ /g/, dog. We must remember to use the vowel-first cover-up method when you need help figuring out a word.” 

o   3. Say, “it’s important to become faster at our reading because the faster we can read the more we can understand what we’re reading. It can even help us like reading better. Now we’re going to work on reading faster.  Have you ever noticed that the first time you read something it sounds broken up and slow, and a little like a robot?” Demonstrate reading the sentence—We like to read—very slowly and haltingly. We- like- to- read. Then say, if you read that sentence again it sounds better. Demonstrate reading the same sentence a bit faster. We like- to read. Say, the more you practice—the faster you get, and you can add feeling and different voices. Read the sentence one more time, this time with more expression. We like to read. 

o   4. For the book talk hold up the book What Will the Seal Eat? so that everyone can see the front cover. Ask, does anyone know what seals eat? Acknowledge all responses, but don’t give away the correct answer. Say, well, this seal is having a really hard time figuring out what he is wants to eat! Let’s see if he ever figures it out. Pass out one copy of the book and one panther and jungle chart to each student and allow a few minutes for students to read the book silently. 

o   5. Next, have students get with a partner. Pass out one stopwatch to each pair of students. Explain that students should take turns reading and timing reads. Say, by moving the Velcro monkey after timing each read we get to see how much better we’re getting at reading! 

o   6. Have each student take out paper and pencil to record how many seconds it too to read each section. Have each student do four timed reads. 

o   7. Walk around the room as students begin, making sure everyone understands the process. Continue monitoring students as they engage in the fluency activity. Then have students fill out the “noticing form” during the third and fourth read.

o   8. For assessment, have each student write their name on the paper with their timed recordings and noticing form and take them up.  Compare the timing of the first read to the last read to measure progress. 

o   9. Encourage students to choose a book from the classroom library to read several times at home, and then show their family how well they can read.  Mention that the next day you’ll be eager to have a few volunteers read their book to the class. Give parents the time form and necessary form for potential use at home.



o   Landrum, Kailey: Fluent Reading is Fun!


o   Johnson, Leighton: Speedy Monkeys!!!


o   Cushman, Shelia and Kornblum, Rona. What Will The Seal Eat? Phonics Readers. Educational Insights, 1990.

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