Express to Connect

Lesson Design: Fluency

Krista Doyle


Rationale:  Students who have reached reading fluency can recognize words automatically and accurately Once students can read with fluency, they can focus on reading with expression, which will help them connect to the story better. This will make the story more interesting for themselves and the people they read to. The students will hear the difference in the teacher's reading: through first reading with difficulty (working out unfamiliar words), next through reading smoothly but with no expression, and then reading with the correct expression. The students will then break off into pairs to practice for themselves.


*Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Firefly Books. 1986. (Enough copies for each student and one for the teacher)


*Reading Journal (each student should already have their own)

*Express to Connect Peer Review Sheet


1. Do you like to read to people? This is what we will be working on today. I am going to read you a few sentences from this book, Love You Forever. This book is about a mother and her son. The mother loves her son deeply and tells him often while he is asleep. Will things change as he grows older?  "I. . .ll love you for. . .ever, I. . .ll (Oh it's 'I'll') like you for a. . . l. . . way. . . s, As long as I'm l-i-v. . . ing my baby you'll be." Would you be able to keep up if I continued reading like that? No, I think I need a little more practice. No expression: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my baby you'll be." Well that's not very interesting! How could I make that more interesting? Maybe by putting in some expression? Angrily: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my baby you'll be." I think that was the wrong expression! How can I find out what the right expression is? Let's look at the words 'love you forever', what does that tell us about the expression? I think she would say this in a loving way. Let me try again: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my baby you'll be." Was that better?

2. As we become better readers, we use more expression when we read to make the books more interesting to ourselves and the people we read to. The stories we read just aren't the same if we just let the words hang there dry and boring. We need to give them some life! The last time I read, I was using expression and that was the one that sounded the best. The best was to do this is to try to figure out what the characters are feeling. If the character is telling someone that they love them, we wouldn't act angry, will we?

3. Now I am going to read the next page of the book where the little boy has grow a little. ". . .this kid is driving me CRAZY!" But at night time. . . While she rocked him she sang: I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my baby you'll be. " Did you notice how my expression changed from the first part to the second? I think the mother was a little frustrated at first but she returned back to the loving expression when she sang to her son. Did my face stay the same or did it change as I went from 'frustrated' back to 'loving'? How so?

4. Now the teacher divides the class into pairs and passes out books. Each pair of students should receive two copies of Love You Forever and an Express to Connect Peer Review Sheet. Remind students how punctuation is a clue to the emotion of the character: For example, how a question mark would affect the voice and how an exclamation mark would make the voice sound stronger and more excited. Pick a few students to try example sentences picked out from the book. When we are reading with our partners, one of you will be listening and one will be reading. Then we will switch to let the other person have a turn reading. If you are listening, I want you to think about how your partner is reading. Let's look at the Peer Review Sheet I gave you. We will be listening for changes of their expression in their voice and their face. We will be asking ourselves if our partner is making the story interesting for us. And finally, we will be asked what happened in the story. Are there any questions before you start reading with your partners? Let's start reading!

5. For assessment teacher has the students return to their desks, make sure their names and their partner's names are on the Peer Review before they turn them in. Then the teacher will ask the students to take out their Reading Journal and write about something that happened in the story and (if there's time) to draw how their partner or they themselves put expression on to the story.

References: "Expression Makes Reading Exciting!" Hannah Williams. Spring  2003.

Munsch, Robert. Love You Forever. Firefly Books. 1986.


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