Frighteningly Fluent

A Halloween Lesson on Fluency

By: Kimber Calhoun


RATIONALE: Fluent readers are readers that have enough sight words to read smoothly without having to decode every word. We all want to be fluent readers so that we can focus our efforts on reading with expression and comprehending the meaning of our text! To find out if we are reading fluently or not we use the fluency equation (words read x 60/ seconds). This will tell us how many words we read per minute. We can use our reading fluency charts to track our progress. In today’s lesson we are going to read and reread a spooky Halloween passage to become fluent readers.




·      Class set of stopwatches

·      Reading fluency graphs for each student

·      Class set of Cover-Up critters

·      Partner reading check sheets

·      Class set of Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman (or any other grade level Halloween chapter book)




1.) EXPLAIN: If we want to be able to read smoothly and with expression we need to become fluent readers. In order to do this, we must practice. We can practice reading by rereading the same passage a few times. When we reread something, we become familiar with it and can therefore make sight words. With every practice trial, we’ll become faster and better readers!


2.) MODEL: Does everyone remember how to use our reading techniques? Let’s refresh our memories about crosschecking. Let’s imagine I wanted to read this sentence (write “I remember what I learned yesterday”) but I wasn’t sure what this word was (underline remember). First I would read my sentence “I _____ what I learned yesterday”. Hmmm, still not sure what the word is. So my next step is to get out my cover-up critter. I recognize some of the chunks of this word “RE” “MEM” “BER”. I think it’s remember! Now I’ll reread my sentence and see if the word makes sense. “I remember what I learned yesterday.” I got it. Now, the next time I see the word, I’ll recognize it faster and be able to read more fluently.


3.) MODEL FLUENCY: Now I’ll show you how fluency can make your reading sound smoother. I’m going to read this sentence like a beginning reader would. (write “Halloween is my favorite holiday” on the board) ‘haalloowwweeeennn iiisss mmmyyy ffaavvoorriittt hoolliiddayyyy’. I read the sentence, but it took a long time and there was no expression in my voice. Now that I’ve read the sentence once before though, I should be able to recognize the words more quickly next time and add some expression and comprehend the meaning of the sentence. “Halloween is my favorite holiday!” That sounds much better!


4.) READ: Now we’re all going to practice our own reading fluency so we can become experts. First we are all going to read the first chapter of Big Pumpkin silently to ourselves. This way we can familiarize ourselves with the words and decode any words we aren’t sure about. This is a spooky Halloween story about young girl who is a “ghost magnet”. Somehow the ghosts always seem to find her, but they never hurt her, in fact they need her help! Let’s read to find out what Allie will do for the ghosts this time. [Give students 5-10 minutes to rad through the first chapter and decode new words. Walk around the classroom to make sure students are on task and only reading chapter one. When students have completed this task, conduct a classroom discussion to assess comprehension and review what was just read.]


5.) EXPLAIN: Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with the text, it’s time to begin our practice because that’s how we become fluent readers! We going to break up into partners and take turns. One person will read first and the other will be the timer, then we trade roles. The reader will read the chapter aloud while the timer uses the stopwatches to keep time. Make sure you write down your time after each reading finishes. When each partner has read the chapter aloud once, discuss what you’ve read and how it sounded. Did your partner read smoothly? Was there expression? Did your partner have to stop and decode any words? Then repeat the task, remember to write down the times. Now discuss if the reading sounded different. Was it faster? Did your partner recognize a word they had to decode last time? Make sure you record all of the responses on your partner reading check sheets.


[Handout check lists and stopwatches and allow students to begin. Walk around class to make sure students understand assignment]


5.) ASSESS: Have students work on deskwork while small groups of 2-4 students meet at the reading table with the teacher. Have each student submit his or her partner reading check sheet with the recording of his or her reading times. The teacher will then calculate the readers’ beginning level of reading fluency. Then have the students individually read aloud to the teacher and record the times. Recalculate the students’ fluency rate and assess whether it has improved or not.










“Metamorphoses” by Dr. Bruce Murray


“ Reading is our Expertise!” by Mary Hope McGhee



Silverman, Erica, and S. D. Schindler. Big Pumpkin. New York: Macmillan, 1992. Print.