Growing Independence & Fluency

Flying into Fluency

Growing Independence and Fluency

Sherell Brown

Rationale: When a child reads fluently, he or she is able to read words automatically and accurately. After they are able to read the words fluently, they can then read faster, smoother, and with more expression. Fluency is also important because when they are fluent, they can focus more on comprehension. This lesson strives to improve the student’s fluency through repeated and timed reading.


  • Stopwatch (or any timing device for each pair of students)
  • Fluency chart to record student’s words per minute
  • Fluency Checklist
  • Reading comprehension worksheets
  • Dry erase markers (to write sentences on the board)
  • Sample sentences for the teacher to model (on the board)
  • Cover-up critters for each student..
  • Class set of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff (New York: Harper & Row, 1985)


1. Say: “Today we are going to work on our fluency in reading! This means that you are going to become professionals at reading words quickly and correctly. When we are fluent readers, we can better understand the text and it gives us a chance to read the story with expression and make it more interesting! We will practice this today by reading the same book more than once. The more we read the book, the more familiar we will become with the words. This is called repeated reading! Ready to give it a try? Let’s begin!”

2. The teacher will now model how to crosscheck and decode by using a sentence written on the board. Say: “I want everyone to look at this sentence.” (sample sentence: Fran loves to fly her toy airplane outside.) “Now let’s read it together. ‘Fffrrannn lllllovvves to ffllyyy her toy airrrr….” When I get stuck on a word I will go on to finish the rest of the sentence…. “outside”. If I still can’t figure out the word, then I can use my cover-up critter. First, I uncover the first letter of the word. I continue this with each letter in the word. “Ohhhh, airplane! I have a toy airplane, too! The sentence says that Fran loves to fly her toy airplane! I used crosschecking to reread the sentence to try to figure the word out. Now that I know the correct word, I can mentally mark the spelling to help me remember it in the future!”

3. Say: “Let’s see if we can tell the difference between a fluent reader and a non-fluent reader. I am going to read a sentence on the board: “Riding in an airplane can be a lot of fun.” This is how I may read the sentence the first time I see it: “Ridddinnggg iiinn aannn aaiirrrpllannee caaan beee a looott ooff fuunn.” When I read it slow and stretched out, it is hard to understand what I am saying. But if I read it again, I can try to read it faster and more smooth: “R-i-d-i-n-g in an air-p-l-a-n-e can be a lot of f-u-n.” That was a little more fluent, but I think I can read it even better. (I will read it faster, smoother, and with more expression.) “Riding in an airplane can be a lot of fun!” That time, the words flowed smoothly and it is easy to understand what I said. This is how a fluent reader should read the sentence. Now you try reading the sentence fluently. (Have students read the sentence aloud and practice adding expression.)

4. Say: “Practice makes perfect! All good readers got better with practice. When I first read the sentence it was difficult because I had never read it before. The second time I read the sentence, it was easier because I knew the words. By the third time I read the sentence, I was able to say it smoothly and add expression! I became fluent in reading by rereading the sentence until I understood it. That is how you will become fluent readers, too!”

5. Say: “To practice reading fluently, we are going to read the book ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie’. This book is about a little mouse who comes across a house. At the house, he is given a cookie. He then asks for a glass of milk with his cookie. What else will he ask for and what adventures will he take through this house?”

6. Children will be given a copy of the book, their own cover-up critters, fluency chart and checklists, reading comprehension worksheets, and a stopwatch. Say: “Now we are going to practice reading fluently by working with a partner. I want you to pair up with the person beside you. Each of you will take turns reading the story. Before we end you will each read it three times. Remember to crosscheck and use your cover-up critters to help you figure out the words if you get stuck. While you’re reading, your partner will time you using a stopwatch. You will record the time on the worksheet. Your partner will listen closely the second and third time to see if you are reading smoothly and with expression. Remember to be nice when discussing with your partner, we are all friends and we do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings. After you finish reading and filling out the fluency chart, discuss the book with your partner. After you have finished, work independently at your desk to complete the reading comprehension worksheet and then turn it in to me.

The fluency checklists and charts that I pass around to the students will have a spot for their name and for their partner to record their speed the first, second, and third time they read the story. It will also have a spot that says "My partner..." "remembered words, read faster, read smoother, and read with expression" and there will be a spot for them to fill this in the second and third time of reading the passage.

Assessment: Walk around the room to observe the student’s progress as they read. Have the students turn in their worksheets when they are finished. Then call each student individually to your desk to read the passage to you. Be sure to put the passage all on one page so the illustrations do not distract the student. Time the student while he or she reads. The goal is to get the student reading 85 words per minute. At the end of the lesson, review the answers to the reading comprehension worksheet.

Reading Comprehension Worksheet:

1. When you give the mouse milk, what will he probably ask for to drink it with?

2. Why does the mouse want to look in the mirror?

3. When the mouse wants to trim his hair, what will he probably ask for?

4. Where does the mouse want to hang his picture that he drew?


Hicks, Elyssa. Flying into Fluency.


Numeroff, L. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

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