Race to the Finish

Growing Independence and Fluency

 Rachel Bier


In order to become successful readers, students must be able to read fluently. In this lesson students will reread texts and practice with one minute reads to gain the ability to read fast, smooth, and with expression.  When children become fluent readers, they increase their comprehension which is the ultimate goal of reading.



Teacher Copy of Di and the Mice Educational Insights, 1990

1 copy of Di and the Mice Educational Insights, 1990 per pair of students

1 racecar time sheet per student numbered by 10’s (see below)

1 stopwatch per pair of students


1. I will introduce the lesson by  reviewing with the students some of the characteristics of a good reader. “Can anyone tell me some things that are typical of a good reader?” After listening to the students responses I will also go over the importance of being a fluent reader. “The whole point of reading is to understand the text and to enjoy it. If we are having trouble reading, and struggling on the sentences in the story, we cannot fully understand and enjoy what we are reading. Today, we are going to practice reading a story so we understand what is going on and so we can enjoy it.”

2. I will next review with the students that when there is a silent e at the end of the word, the vowel in the word says its name. I will write some words on the board to model how to read words that end in a silent e. “ Here I have this word that is spelled f-i-n-e. I look at this word and I know that i makes a sound like icky sticky so I think this word is fffiiinn. But now I see there is a silent e at the end which means that i is going to say its name so therefore the word is fine.

3. Next I will take out a copy of the book Di and the Mice and explain to the students that this will be the story that we are going to read today. “We will be using this story, Di and the Mice to practice reading fluently today. When we first are beginning to read fluently, sometimes it is best of we keep reading a story over and over again until we are really good at it so we can understand what we are reading. Let me show you. I am going to read a sentence out of this book three times in a row. I want you to listen to me as I say it each time and see if you can tell a difference.” I will then read the sentence Di like to ride her bike three times. The first time I say it I will sound it out phoneme by phoneme and talk with no expression. The second time I read it I will read it a little more quickly but still with no expression. The third time I read the sentence I will read it fluently with expression. “Okay, now who can tell me which time the sentence sounded the best? I bet you all are going to say the third time, and I agree! Sometimes it just takes a little practice to make it perfect, and by rereading the same thing over and over again, I was able to practice.

4. Next I will have the students partner up with their reading buddy. I will explain to the students that they will be doing what we call one minute reads. “Now I want you all to get with your reading buddies. Between your pair you need a copy of the book and a stopwatch. You also need your racecar time sheets to record how fast you are reading. You are going to take turns with your partner reading the book for one minute. At the end of the minute you will record how many words you read. Each of you will do this three times. But remember, it is important to make sure you are reading the words fluently and accurately. I do not want you to rush through reading and make mistakes. Make sure that you record how many words that you read per minute with your reading buddy.”

5. As an assessment tool I will use the racecar timesheets that the children completed.  In this way I will be able to see that the children completed the activity and hopefully see that they improved along the way.  For those who did not improve very much I will work with more often to improve on their fluency.


Smith, Rebecca. Hurry on Your Trip, Cat!

Cushman, Sheila & Kornblum, Rona. Di and the Mice Educational Insights, 1990.

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