Fluency is Fabulous!

Growing Independence and Fluency

 Leigh Wagner




Rationale: Reading fluency is the ability to read with automatic, involuntary word recognition. When readers become fluent, they are able to focus their attention on comprehension. Fluent readers are also able to read quicker and with greater expression. Repeated reading is a great method to increase fluency. This lesson is intended to improve fluency through timed, repeated readings.





Procedure: 1. Set the purpose of the activity for your students so they understand why they are doing this lesson. Say: Today we will be working on becoming more fluent readers. Fluent readers have the ability to read quickly and smoothly while also using expression, which makes a story more interesting!


2. Put the sentence strip up on the board that reads: All of the branches are falling over. First, read the sentence influently. Say: "A-a-a-l-l-l-l o-o-o-f-f th-th-th-e-e b-b-b-r-r-r-a-a-a-n-n-ch-e-s a-r-r-r-e f-f-f-a-a-l-l-l-l-i-n-g o-o-o-v-v-v-e-r-r." Now read the sentence again, but read it fluently and with expression. Say: "All of the branches are falling over. Can you tell the difference between the first and second time I read the sentence? (wait for response) Which time was it easier to understand what I was saying? (wait for response) Yes. When I read the sentence the second time, it was easier to understand me because I read smoothly and with expression. This is reading fluently. Today we are going to work on reading quickly, smoothly, and with expression so that others can better understand us as we read.


3. Say: Sometimes when reading, we come to words that we don't know. If this happens, you can use your cover-up critter to help you figure out the word. I'll show you how to do it. (write chant on the board.) I'm going to pretend I don't know this word. I will start with the vowel and cover up the other letters. The vowel is a and I know that it makes the /a/ sound. Now I will uncover the letters before the a, which makes c-h-a. I know that ch makes the /ch/ sound. If I put the /ch/ and /a/ together, I will pronounce /cha/ and then uncover the rest of the word. The last part is /n//t/. If I blend it all together I get chant. If the word doesn't sound right, read the rest of the sentence and crosscheck. I'll show you how to crosscheck using the same sentence. 'All of the branches are failing over. OH! Falling!' Crosschecking helps us read words bylooking at the other words in the sentence. If the cover-up critter and crosschecking don't help, try asking a friend.


4. Before reading, give the students a book talk on Mouse Soup in order to engage them in the story. Book talk: This story is about a mouse and a weasel. While Mouse is out reading his book, he gets caught by Weasel. Weasel wants to use Mouse to make mouse soup, but what will Mouse do? We will have to read to find out!


5. Pass out a copy of Mouse Soup to each student. Say: I will read the book to you first. I want you to follow along in your book and notice how I read fluently.


6. After the teacher reads, explain that the students will be doing a rereading activity and also explain the purpose for rereading. Say: We will be reading and rereading Mouse Soup. We want to read the story more than once because more we read a story, the better we understand it and the easier it is to recognize the words and read with expression.


7. The teacher should now divide students into pairs and allow them to spread out through the room. Give each individual student a pencil, a Reading Time sheet, a Fluency Checklist, and a copy of Mouse Soup. Each pair should also receive a time piece.


8. The teacher now needs to explain how to do the activity. Say: One student will be the reader and the other will be the recorder. The reader will read as fluently as they can while the recorder will use the time piece to keep track of how long it takes the reader to read the whole book. Be sure to stop the timer when your partner is done reading. On the Reading Time sheet, write down how long it took your partner to read. After your partner is done reading, go through the Fluency Checklist and check off all the things your partner did better when they read the story again. After you have finished filling in the sheets, switch jobs. Now the reader is the recorder and the recorder is the reader.


9. Before letting the students start the activity on their own, model how to do it with a student using a smaller passage.


10. Now allow the students to do the activity themselves. Move around the room to monitor the students. Check to make sure that they are on task and doing the activity properly. It is important that the students are properly filling in the sheets in order to get an accurate representation of each student's fluency.


11. The teacher will assess each student through the Reading Time and Fluency Checklist sheets. The information from the Reading Time sheet should be plugged into the following formula to determine the number of words read per minute:

Number of Words X 60

Time spent reading

To assess comprehension, the teacher should have each student write a short paragraph about what happened in the story. This step is important because comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading.



Reading Time



Fluency Checklist


Name: _____________________________

Date: ______________________________

Number of Words: ___________________


1st Reading Time: ____________________

2nd Reading Time: ____________________

3rd Reading Time: ____________________



Name: ____________________________

Date of Reading: ____________________

Evaluator: _________________________


After rereading the story again, I noticed that my partner…. (check all that apply)


___ Remembered more words

___ Read faster

___ Read smoother

___ Read with expression




Campbell, Magen Campbell. Fluent Readers are Fabulous!



Animation Source:



Mouse Soup. Arnold Lobel. HarperCollins 1977.


Murray, Bruce. The Reading Genie "Developing Reading Fluency"



Back to Epiphanies website