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ELA G3:M1:U2:L8

Developing Reading Fluency: Criteria for Reading Aloud

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The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.


Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can demonstrate fluency when reading stories or poems for an audio recording. (SL.3.5)


Supporting Targets

Learning TargetsOngoing Assessments
  • I can identify the skills of a fluent reader.
  • I can practice reading an excerpt from my independent reading book with fluency.
  • Student Criteria recording form
  • Fluent Reading Criteria checklist (completed after listening to individual students read)


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

A.  Engaging the Reader : Audio Recording or Read-aloud (10 minutes)

2.  Work Time

A.  Whole Group Listen to Read-aloud (15 minutes)

B.  Generate Criteria for a Fluent Read-aloud
(10 minutes)

C.  Whole Group Practice and Check-in against Criteria (10 minutes)

D.  Partner Practice with Check-in against Criteria (10 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

A.  Debrief (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

A.  Practice reading a book or book excerpt aloud to someone.

  • This lesson formally introduces the term fluency as a reading superpower; students, of course, have been building fluency throughout the module, so they may already know this term.
  • For Work Time, Part A, an excerpt from Thank You, Mr. Falker may be a good option as a text to use here, since it is relevant in content (reading superpowers, specifically Trisha’s fluency) and is short and familiar (from Lessons 1 and 2). This text also gives students a chance to attend to dialogue and punctuation as fluent readers. Remember that students will need their eyes on a copy of the text as you read. Note that this text is above the third-grade Lexile1 range; use professional judgment and choose another text if necessary or appropriate.
  • For Work Time, Part A: Choose an excerpt from the text Thank You, Mr. Falker that includes examples of dialogue and varied punctuation.
  • For Work Time, Part D: Choose excerpts from a familiar class text (book or poem) at an appropriate Lexile range for students to practice fluent reading. Another option is to have students choose excerpts from their own independent reading books (as long as the texts are at an appropriate Lexile range). A Fluent Reading Criteria checklist is provided for you to use or share with students. Adapt as needed.
  • Some vocabulary words may need to be clarified with students: story teller, power



identify, skills, practice, excerpt, read-aloud, fluent, fluency, phrasing, rate, expression, punctuation, criteria


  • A short poem of the teacher’s choice: audio recording and/or one copy per student
  • One or two excerpts from the text Thank You, Mr. Falker (refer to supporting materials for Lesson 1)
  • Chart paper for new Fluency Criteria anchor chart (teacher-created)
  • Identifying Criteria for a Fluent Reader
  • Fluent Reading Criteria Checklist
  • Markers
  • An excerpt from students’ individual independent reading books or a common class text (at an appropriate Lexile range)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Reader: Audio Recording or Read-aloud (10 minutes)

  • Play an audio recording (or do a choral reading) of a short poem. (Options might include a poem from I Am the Book, compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins, or use any poem with which students are familiar.) Invite students to clap and/or chant along as appropriate.
  • Share the first learning target: “I can identify the skills of a fluent reader.” Circle the words identify, skills, and fluent. Invite students to share out the meaning of identify (this is a familiar word from previous targets—anticipate definitions such as “name,” “see,” or “discover.”) Discuss the word fluent on a basic level: “It’s how we want our reading to sound when we read it aloud.” Tell them: “We will talk about the characteristics of a fluent reader later in the lesson.” Repeat with the second target: “I can practice reading an excerpt from my independent reading book with fluency,” attending to the words practice, excerpt, and fluency.
  • Ask: “Why might practicing reading aloud to others be a way for each of us to build reading power?” Students may share their ideas first with a partner using a Think-Pair-Share and then with the whole class.
  • Consider posting nonlinguistic symbols (e.g., two people talking for discuss, a pen for record, a magnifying glass for details, a lightbulb for main idea) to assist ELLs in making connections with vocabulary. These symbols can be used throughout the year.
  • Check for comprehension of the question with ELLs, who may need clarification on words such as might or expressions such as build reading power.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Whole Group Listen to Read-aloud (15 minutes)

  • Invite students into this fluency study: “We have discovered that one way readers build their reading power is by reading aloud to yourself and others. You have been practicing this as homework with some of the stories we have read. In a few days, each of you will read aloud a short text to demonstrate your reading superpowers. It is important that our reading is fluent so that the audience can understand the meaning. Fluency is another skill we will add to our reading powers. This will be fun and important work for us as readers.”
  • Remind them that they have been building their fluency in several ways in this module: by reading along during teacher read-alouds, by rereading, and by reading aloud to others or themselves (for homework).
  • Say: “As you are listening, please pay careful attention to what makes a fluent reader good. I am going to ask you at the end of the reading to identify what a fluent reader sounds like.” Check for student understanding of the task at hand.
  • Read the text excerpt aloud. Pause to re-engage students with their purpose. Then ask: “What does a fluent reader sound like?” Students either may write down what they hear or simply listen.
  • Audio recordings of text can aid ELLs in comprehension. Consider allowing ELLs exposure to the recording prior to instruction.
  • Check for comprehension with ELLs of words that most students would know (i.e., fluent, text). Have students document words in vocabulary logs or personal dictionaries, or keep the cards where they log vocabulary words on a ring.

B. Generate Criteria for a Fluent Read-aloud (10 minutes)

  • Distribute the Identifying Criteria for Fluent Reading handout to students.
  • Ask students to Pair-Share two ideas about what makes a fluent reader good. Listen in to identify students who use words that you want to include on a new Fluency Criteria anchor chart.
  • Guide students toward the characteristics of a fluent reader that will become your criteria list, and use picture clues or word clues to define any new vocabulary.
  • Suggested attributes are:

*   Phrasing

*   Rate 

*   Punctuation

*   Expression

  • Include the words that students might use to describe these words alongside the fluency vocabulary word (e.g., next to the word rate one might write “not too fast and not too slow”).
  • Students may create vocabulary cards with fluency terms.
  • In the Pair-Share, a sentence starter may assist ELLs in participating in the discussion.
  • Consider using nonlinguistic symbols throughout the module to represent: fluency, phrasing, rate, punctuation, and expression.

C. Whole Group Practice and Check-in against Criteria (10 minutes)

  • Display another excerpt from Thank You, Mr. Falker, so all students can see it. Invite students to turn and talk about what they remember about the story. What was the main message or lesson? What did Trisha “want” and how did she overcome her challenges? Listen for students to comment on how Trisha worked hard to read.
  • Point out to students that Trisha had to learn several skills before she was really a reader. One was just to learn how to make sense of the words on the page (decoding). Another skill was the ability to read out loud so the words flowed. That’s fluency: what students will be practicing today.
  • Focus on examples of dialogue and varied punctuation. Read the passage aloud once to the class. Point out the words in the text as students listen in. Invite them to notice how conventions of writing (e.g., quotation marks, exclamation points, question marks) are fluency clues for readers.
  • As a whole class, reread the text as a choral read.
  • Ask students to think about how well the class did with the choral read. Identify a star (area of strength) and step (area of growth) as a whole group based on the criteria. Use sentence frames to support feedback such as: “I like how we _______,” and “I think we would be more fluent if we _______.”

D. Partner Practice with Check-in against Criteria (10 minutes)

  • If you choose, share with students the Fluent Reading Criteria Checklist (or something similar you have created or adapted).
  • Ask students to meet with a partner to practice reading fluently. They may choose to read either an excerpt from their individual independent reading books or an excerpt from a familiar whole class text. Encourage students to read the text together first and then take turns reading to one another.
  • After their practice, ask students to give verbal feedback to their partners using the star and step framework. Again, consider using similar sentence frames: “I like how you_______,” and “I think you would be more fluent if you_______.”


Note: Any text chosen for the partner practice should be at an appropriate Lexile range for each child.

  • Consider partnering ELLs with students who can model English pronunciation. The practice of reading aloud with feedback from a partner whose L1 is English will assist students with language acquisition.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Debrief (5 minutes)

  • Invite students to silently reflect on how it went to read as partners. What is one star (area of strength) you showed as a fluent reader? What is one step (area of growth) to improve your fluency? Students Pair-Share their reflection using sentence frames: “I like how I _____” and “I would be more fluent as a reader if I _______.” Students can add their fluent reader goal to their other reading power goals.
  • Some students, including ELLs, may not understand the expressions “area of strength” or “area of growth” the first time. Use visuals to represent the star and step next to the sentence frame.




  • Practice reading a book or book excerpt aloud to someone. First read it five to eight times to yourself, focusing on fluency. Then share it with a listener. The listener can then give you a star and a step on the fluency feedback form.


Note: For the opening of Lesson 9, choose a short poem about the power of reading.  Consider using one of the poems from the book I Am the Book by Lee Bennett Hopkins (see Unit 1 Recommended Texts) or another favorite poem of your choice.

Supporting Materials


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