On the Road to Fluency!

On the Road to Fluency!

Growing Independence and Fluency Design

By: Charity Glaze


Rationale: The goal of this lesson is to help students develop fluency through the process of reading and rereading texts independently and with a partner as well. Fluency is being able to read with automatic word recognition. A good way to become a fluent reader is to read regularly and practice repeating what you have read as well. This will help students read faster, smoother, and with more expression that sounds like speech. Repeated reading also helps students gain a better understanding of the text and become more familiar with the words in a text. When we learn to become fluent readers, we can then begin to free up the resources necessary for thinking about the actual message of a text instead of focusing on mastering the reading of the words. As a result, this improves reading comprehension. This lesson is designed to help students learn strategies, such as rereading, that will help them on the road to becoming fluent, successful, skillful readers. 


·      Pen, pencil

·      Stop watch for each student pair

·      Race chart with car to record WPM (words per minute) for each student

·      Class copy of the book The Race for Cake by Geri Murray (URL Below)

·      Fluency checklist for each student

·      Document camera

·      Cover up critter for each student

·      Dry erase board (dry erase markers)

·      Time sheet for each student

·      Icky sticky ice cream graphic image (URL Below)

·      The Williams Sisters passage for assessment (URL Below) 


Procedure: Explain to students that today they are going to learn to become fluent readers. Say: Can anyone tell me what it means to be a fluent reader? I will use it in a sentence first. Jack does not read word by word slowly anymore, with lots of practice he has become a fluent reader. Give students a chance to give their individual responses. Say: Becoming a fluent reader means that you will be able to read and it sounds just like talking! So just as you hear my words flowing together as I speak, with lots of practice, you will soon be able to read the same way!


Say: Think back to when you first learned how to ride a bike. You first had training wheels. When you first began to ride without training wheels, you would fall and get back up and wobble and then fall again. You had to practice and practice until you learned how to keep your balance and adjust your speed so that you wouldn’t fall. Later, you got a bigger bike with a higher speed! You then maybe learned how to keep your speed, balance, and maybe do a trick all while continuing to ride your bike! I bet that you enjoyed riding bikes with your friends a lot more once you became skillful at it by continuing to practice.  Learning to read fluently is the same way! You first have to learn to read words accurately by using your decoding, crosschecking and mental marking skills. Once you practice and practice you can pick up speed as you read and later add in expressions that make reading a lot more fun! We will first use our cover up critters to slowly decode words that we do not know. Here, I will model on the document cam how to do it first. I will write the word “thick”. I will first cover up all of the letters except the “th”. 

Say: Together t and h makes the th sound. I want everyone to say “th”. 

I will then uncover the “i” which says i like icky sticky ice cream (show graphic image).  Everyone say “i”.

 Last is the “ck” and together they make the k sound. Everyone say “k”.

I will put the letters together to get the word thick! Easy right? If you still are not sure what a word is after decoding, you can use your cross-checking skills to figure out a word. Cross checking is when you finish an entire sentence and use context clues to to see if you can figure out what a word is. Lastly, we will use our mental marking skills to mark irregular words or silent letters once you have figured out what a word is. Once you become a fluent reader you can use all of these skills to read and recognize words, and later read with expression. Being able to recognize words automatically and read at a proper pace leads to better reading comprehension, which leads to a more enjoyable reading experience just like bike riding!


Model: Say: Now I am going to model how a reader practices in order to become a fluent reader. I will start by writing a sentence from the book The Race for Cake. Using the document camera write: Ben and Jess had a swim in the lake. Say: I will now model how a reader developing fluency would read this sentence on the first attempt. Bbbenn aannnddd Jjjeesss hhhhaaaddd a sssswwwiiimmm in ttthhhee llllaaakkee. Say: That sentence gave me a lot of trouble. Did you notice how slow, and drawn out that sentence was? Did you also notice how much expression I lacked while reading that sentence? Did that sound like a story that you would want to read? (Allow students to answer). Now I am going to read it again. I have already read it once so I have decoded words I didn’t know, I have finished the sentence to cross check and figure out any other words that I didn’t know and I have mentally marked any irregular spellings or silent letters. I will try to read the sentence again. Say (with more speed): Ben and Jess had a swim in the lake. Wow! That was much better. Did you notice how I was able to recognize the words immediately this time? I was also able to read the sentence quite faster. Since the second time was such as success, I will try it for a third and final time. Say (with more speed and expression): Ben and Jess had a swim in the lake. This sounds like an interesting story we would want to read more of now doesn’t it? Which time did you enjoy hearing me read the most the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd time? The third, right! When we read with fluency, others enjoy hearing us read and we enjoy hearing ourselves as well!


Activity: Now it’s your turn to practice fluency! Today we are going to be reading The Race for Cake. "Ben and Jess go for a swim in the lake while their mother bakes a cake. “I’ll race ya!”, said Ben. Lad the dog smells the cake and wants to join in the race too! Can Ben beat Lad in the race or will Lad end up taking the cake? We are going to read to find out!" Say: I want everyone to read silently to him or herself as I walk around to check progress. When I see that all students have reached the last page, I will then group you with a partner.


Say: Now when I call your name I want you to group with partner and read the book again. Be sure to take your racetrack and car (WPM), stopwatch, time sheet and fluency checklist with you. You and your partner will take turns reading. While one student is reading, the other students will time the student and record the number of words the student reads in 1 minute with their racecar on their Words Per Minute race chart. Use your time sheet to keep track of the minutes and seconds. The goal is for the student to get closer to the finish line each time and on the last try as close as possible. The student will read three times in a row and each time the partner will listen closely for improvement and note these changes by checking if the student remembered more words, read faster, read smoother, or read with more expression on the 2nd and 3rd time reading. The student may do one of these or all four! Then you will switch places and repeat. We do not have room for criticizing the reader. There is only room for praise because we are all striving to become fluent readers. Remember to use your decoding, crosschecking, mental marking and rereading skills. I will write on the board the formula for calculating WPM. It is:  


                                   words x 60




I will be walking around to assist you if you need help with the equation. Use your chart to help you keep up with the data.


Assessment: To assess the students, I will evaluate how they are improving as they read. I will then call students one by one to my reading station consisting of a round reading table and chairs to read the passage “The Williams Sisters” aloud to me as I time them and note the number of miscues as well as the number of words read in that minute. I will use the students’ racecar WPM chart to allow the student to notice how he or she is moving along (moving the car along the road to the corresponding number of WPM). The goal is for the student to get the car to the finish line to FLUENCY!  I will then wrap up by asking the student comprehension questions relating to the passage such as “What are the names of the two sisters in this passage?", "What else did Venus go to school for?"and "This passage explains that the sisters make their own what?"  


Time Sheet:

Name of student reading:

Partners name:





1st time



2nd time



3rd time





Lewis, Caitlin. "'Gimmie the Gifts!'" The Reading Genie. Bruce Murray, n.d. Web. 12 July 2014.



Crenshaw, Beth. "Ready, Set, Race to Read." The Reading Genie. Bruce Murray, n.d. Web. 14 July 2014. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/realizations/crenshawgf.htm


Murray, Bruce. "Phoneme Pictures for Short Vowels." Phoneme Pictures for Short Vowels. Bruce Murray, n.d. Web. 14 July 2014. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/phonpics.html


The Race for Cake:



Assessment passage:


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