Pitching Fast for Fluency



Growing Independence and Fluency

By: Ally Harper


Fluency is characterized by effortless word recognition, which influences speed. While it is important for children to learn how to read through decoding, it is a slow process. Slow reading also hinders reading comprehension. Reading quickly will allow the student to remember what they read in order to make connections and not forget what they have read. Fluent reading is essential in comprehending. The process can be sped up with fluency instruction. Fluency instruction helps turn newly encountered words into automatically recognized words, sight words. The method of repeated readings helps a student move forward from slowly decoding to automatic, effortless reading. This lesson directs children to use strategies that build sight words through crosschecking for meaning, repeated reading of the text, and charting progress in paired partner reading to sustain motivation to reread.



-Stopwatches for each pair of students

-Fluency graphs for each child

 -Class set of Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia books

-Fluency checklist

-Reader Response Form



 Readers Response:               Name:____________________________________________________


Directions: On a separate sheet of paper, answer each question with at least one complete sentence.


1.      What does “gloomy faces” mean? Why does the players have gloomy faces?

2.      Why do you think Amelia Bedelia put on the uniform?

3.      What did Amelia Bedelia do that made the Tornadoes angry?

4.      Why did Amelia Bedelia pick up 2nd base?

5.      What did Amelia Bedelia do with home plate and why?

6.      Write down a time you played baseball, softball, or you watched a game.



 1.)   Explain the Activity: Say: Today you are going to learn how to pick up speed while you’re reading so you can read as smoothly and as naturally as you talk. When you can read smoothly, it’s easy to understand the words and get interested in what’s going on in the story.

2.)   Model Fluent and Nonfluent reading: Say: I am going to let you listen to me read a short passage two times. When I’m done, I’ll take a vote on which time I sounded better. 1.) I ne-ver saw such glo-o-o-oomy faces, said Amelia Bedelia. Did something /t-e-rible/ happen? We played the /Tornaydows/ today, said Jimmy. (Tornadoes make more sense than tornaydows. I am having trouble with some of these new words so I have to finish the sentences to see if I can figure them out.) One of our p-l-ayers is out. There is no one to take his /p-l-ace/ /pla-ce/ oh, place, said Tom. 2.) Let me try this passage again. I never saw such  gloomy faces, said Amelia Bedelia. Did something terrible happen? We played the Tornadoes today, said Jimmy. One of our players is out. There is no one to take his place said Tom.

(Ask for a show of hands) Who liked listening to my first reading? How about the second? Why did the second time sound better to you? That’s right, I didn’t have to stop to figure out any of the words.

  3.).  Review a Strategy: Say: Did you notice that I used a strategy of          crosschecking when I couldn’t get a word? What I did was finish the sentence to see if I could figure out the pronunciation of some tough new words that had silent letters, like the e in tornadoes. At first I pronounced them but they didn’t sound like read words I’ve heard of. Then when I  finished the sentence, I could tell what the words were, like tornadoes  instead of tornaydows.

  4.) Practice Together: Say: Let’s try reading the next line on the page together as a class. (Choral read:) “What about me?” Said Amelia Bedelia. “You?” Said   the boys. “Great!” “I don’t know much about the game,” said Amelia Bedelia.  I heard some of you have trouble with Bedelia but when the class said it I heard you pick it up the second time and figure it out.

 5.) Motivate to Read: Say: I am going to give you a book talk about our story. Amelia Bedelia takes everything literally. She has to go fill in and play baseball when a player gets sick. Who would have thought there were so many terms that could have a double meaning when you play baseball? Do you think Amelia Bedelia will be good at baseball? Let’s see what funny things Amelia Bedelia will do in the story.

 6.) Explain the New Procedure for paired practice: While I am explaining, I will write directions as steps on the board for students to refer to.Say: Here’s what you are going to do next.  I am handing out a checklist that you and your partner will complete. Now remember that fluency comes with practice! It’s okay if there are some mistakes at first. (I will pair the students by reading abilities so that they feel comfortable with their partner).

1. Pair up with your reading buddy; one buddy can come and get two Partner Reading Progress checklists and two reader response forms from my desk, then return to your reading places. While one buddy is doing this, the other one will count all the words in this chapter and put that number at the top of your checklist forms.

2. Take 3 turns reading the chapter to each other. While one reads, the other will do the stopwatch to time your partner’s readings. Remember not to skip any words! Start the timer as soon as the reader begins reading, press stop when the reader is finished.

3. Also pay close attention to how many mistakes your partner makes each time. Make tallies like this (show line tally method on the board III) for each mistake.

4. Then do a subtraction problem the total number of words minus the number of tallies for each reading. That number goes on this line: __________ Words in ____________seconds.

5. After getting some progress measures figured out, answer the two questions on the progress form about which turn was the smoothest and which had the fewest errors.

6. When you are finished timing each other, you can discuss the answers to the reader response questions.

7. Then each of you will write your answers on a separate sheet of paper back at your desks.

8. You will turn in your papers and checklists to me when you come read to me.


 I will call each student to my desk when they have finished with their partner and have them read a page from the story that they read to assess their fluency. I will time them and make notes on how smoothly and quickly they read. I will ask comprehension questions to check and make sure the students comprehend as they read. I will tell them what they need to work on to become a more fluent reader. I will ask them to bring me their checklist when they come to read. I will compare my checklist to the ones they did with their partner to see what other areas they need to practice. I will ask the students questions about what they read at the end. I will assess by using the following formula: words X 60/seconds.


 Picture checklist: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/fluency.html

 Parish, Peggy, and Wallace Tripp. Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia. New York: Harper & Row, 1972

 Gerri Murray, Reading is a Breeze!


 Baseball picture:  www.howstuffworks.com


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