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Reading Fluency Activities for 4-5th-Graders

  • Title of the book: My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother
  • Author: Patricia Polacco is the author of many books for children, for instance, Some Birthday, The Keeping Quilt, or Rechenka’s Eggs. Her works are praised by educators and parents.
  • Brief Synopsis: This book tells the story of a little girl named Patricia whose brother Richard always embarrasses her by doing everything much better than she does. Patricia is unable to stand the so-called superiority of her brother, and she makes a secret wish to outshine him. However, later she learns that her brother really cares about her.

Five-day Mini Unit of Study


These activities are aimed at improving the students’ skills in recognizing words and phrases within a sentence. Secondly, these exercises will help learners better comprehend lexical units, phrases, sentences, and entire text. Finally, these activities will assist fourth or fifth-graders in developing their prosodic reading skills. These are the main elements of reading fluency (Herron, 2004, p 5).

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Reading book, tape recorder.


Assisted Reading

This is a preliminary exercise that consists of two stages. At first, the teacher reads the passage from the book out loud. This passage can range from thirty to fifty sentences. At this point, the learners only silently follow the reader. It is important that the instructor explains the meaning or pronunciation of the words that may not be familiar to fourth or fifth-graders. After that one of the students reads the same passage out loud. Provided that he/she mispronounces the word or sentence, the teacher explains the error and helps the learner to repeat the same word or sentence correctly.

Partner Reading

The second activity which can be very fruitful for fourth or fifth-grade students is partner reading. Students will be divided into triples. They will read the parts of Patricia, Richard, and the narrator. It is quite possible that the teacher can take part in this role play. As a fluent reader, he/she will correct the learner’s mistakes in word recognition, pronunciation, or prosody. Another form of partner reading is echoing. In this case, one of the students or the teacher will read a passage from the text (three or four sentences) whereas others will repeat it. In this way, the instructor will be able to engage more students. The main point of this exercise is to help learners develop prosodic reading skills (Herron, 2004, p 58).

Tape-assisted reading

During the third exercise, students will listen to the audio performance of My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother and repeat the same passage chorally. The teacher will make pauses during which the class will read out the passages that will be no longer than 10 sentences. This activity will help them master various prosodic elements such as pacing, intonation, and word stress (Benjamin, 2005, p 64). This exercise can take five minutes or less.

Question-generation and gist sentences

The main purpose of this activity is to show students the methods of comprehending and memorizing the text. The learners will read silently a certain passage from the book: it will range from 50 to 100 sentences. The main task will be to put a set of questions that are related to the content. Moreover, they will need to write a gist sentence or sentences which briefly summarize the passage and its main idea. In this way, four and fifth-graders will learn to synthesize information (Rosenshine, Meister, & Chapman, 1996).

Evaluation of the text

The main goal of the fifth exercise is to teach students to memorize and retrieve information. During this task, they will be asked to read a passage from the book silently and choose a list of keywords that will help them to retell the passage. The instructor should give copied passages from My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother and ask them to highlight the most important points. Such activities can help students better evaluate information. In other words, they must decide which word, sentence, or phrase is crucial for understanding and memorizing the text.

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This assessment of reading fluency should be both summative and formative. Summative evaluation will first measure reading accuracy. In this case, we need to speak about the total number of words that a fourth or fifth-grader can read within a minute and the number of mistakes that he/she makes. The teacher must divide the number of words that were read correctly by the total number of words in order to calculate the accuracy ratio. Furthermore, learners will have to take a reading comprehension test. They will need to answer a set of multiple-choice or open questions related to the text. In this way, the teacher will be able to quantify their results and measure their progress.

In contrast, formative assessment is more oriented toward qualitative data rather than scores (Herron, 2004). Under such circumstances, the teacher may just tell a student on which aspects he/she should focus, for example, prosody, comprehension, or pacing. This assessment is supposed to modify teaching and learning strategies in the classroom.

Reference List

Benjamin A. (2005). Differentiated instruction using technology: a guide for middle and high school teachers. London: Eye on Education.

Herron S. (2004). Reading for Every Child Fluency, Grade 4. NY: Carson-Dellosa Publishing.

Polacco. P. (2011) My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother. NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Rosenshine, B., Meister, C., & Chapman, S. (1996). Teaching students to generate questions: A review of the intervention studies. Review of Educational Research, 66, 181-221.

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