Let's Get Expressive!


A growing independence and fluency lesson

Taylor Bullard


Rationale: The goal for this lesson is to develop fluency (reading with automaticity) by practicing reading with expression. It is important to learn to read fluently (smooth like peanut butter) so that we can begin to read in a similar way to how we would talk. Once we can read fluently, we can begin to focus on the message of the text. Reading with expression helps us to become more fluent because we begin to read in a way that holds our interest in a story and in a way that is similar to how we communicate. (which we already know how to do.) The activity when the students pick sentences for their partner to read accomplishes the learning goal because they are being held accountable and because they have to read it to their partner and the partner is looking for the expression that they use. See fluency formula: words x60/seconds.


1.A copy of Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel (Harper Collins Publishing 1979) for each student and 1 for teacher

2.1 White board

3.1 expo marker

4.Sheet with sentences that can be read expressively for each pair (attached)

5.Assessment for each student (attached)


1.Purpose and introduction: Say: "In order to become expert readers, we need to learn how to read with expression so that we can read more fluently. Reading fluently means to read smooth like peanut butter. We will use expression to help us become fluent. Expression is when you change the tone of your voice to match what is going on in the story. For example, if I am reading a scary part of the story my voice might sound scary." Give example sentence on board – The ghost appeared in the window. Read the sentence with expression (low, shaky, scary voice) and then have the students read it chorally with you in a scary tone. Give the next example sentence – I can't wait for my birthday party! Read sentence with an excited voice and then have students read it excitedly with you.


2.Review: Say: "Before we learn how read a story with expression, lets read some sentences and talk about how we might be able to read them with expression. Remember, if you have trouble reading a sentence it is important to correct your mistake and figure out where you went wrong so that it can make sense. Always go back and reread so that you can get the message." Always finish the sentence if you have trouble with a word to see if you can figure it out.


Put sentence on the board: My cat is sick today. "Now, raise your hand if you can think of a way that we could read this sentence. Would we read it in a happy tone? An excited one? A sad one?" Call on a few students so that they can give their ideas about how we could read it. After 3 or 4 students have given their ideas, call on one of them to read the sentence in the way that they described (sad, crying, etc). Once the student has read it, have all of the students read it together. Put the next sentence on the board: I just got a new pair of shoes. Repeat what was done for the first sentence. Let a few students give you their ideas for how we could read it and then let one of them read the sentence. Have the class read it together with expression. Add a few more sentences if the students need extra help with the concept. Say "By reading with expression we can change the tone of our voice as we read to go along with the story. If you are reading an exciting part of the story you could read with an excited and happy voice. If it is a sad part you could read slower and with a lower voice."


3.Model: Say "Now I am going to show you how to read a story with expression. Listen to my voice as it changes. After I read I am going to ask you where my voice changed." Get your copy of Frog and Toad are Friends and turn to page 6. Read the first page in a boring monotone voice: "Frog walked into the house. It was dark. All the shutters were closed. "Toad, where are you?" Called Frog. "Go away," said the voice from a corner of the room. Toad was lying in bed." "Now, was that very interesting or exciting? No way! Now I will reread it with expression and tell me what you think." Emphasize expression with walked, dark, closed, are, and go away. Say: "Did you hear how I changed my voice at some parts of the story. Did you hear my voice get lower when I said the word dark? Did you hear how it got louder when I said the word are? Where are some places that you heard it change? Dark…yes! My voice got a little lower and spooky." Reread sentence to remind students. Where else did it change? Go away…yes! My voice sounded meaner. Reread it to remind them. Say: " This is how you read with expression. Change the tone of your voice to match what is happening in the story." Remember that if you have trouble with a word make sure you go back and crosscheck or use your cover up critter to figure it out.


4.Activity: Say: "Next I am going to put you with a partner and you are going to do an activity together. You will have a sheet with sentences on it. Your partner is going to pick a sentence for you to read with expression." Pass papers out and have students pick a sentence for their partner to read. Monitor students as they do this and give suggestions about how they could read it.


5.Reading whole text: Say: "Now you are going to practice reading a story with expression with a partner. You will each have your own book, but you will read it out loud together. Remember, you are focusing on reading with expression and changing your voice when you read. In the part we are going to read about Frog is trying to get Toad to wake up so that they can have fun together. How do you think Frog is going to wake him up?" Pair students up and have them read aloud with their partner. Walk around to monitor students and listen for their expression. After it looks like most of the students have read 1 or 2 pages ask them to stop and talk with their partner about where they used expression. Have them reread what they just read to practice on the expression again. Have the students continue reading until the story is over. They must reread the story to practice more on fluency and expression. Say: "It is important that we reread the story so that we can read it more fluently and better understand the message."


6.Assessment: Have students go back to their seat and pass out the assessment sheet. The assessment is used for each student to tell how their partner improved. This will give the teacher a general idea of what the students are and aren't doing.




Lobel, Arnold. Frog and Toad are Friends.Harper Collins Publishing. 1979.


Sentence Sheet: http://www.english-grammar-revolution.com/exclamatory-sentence.html


Related lesson: The Reading Genie. Reading With Expression is Fun! Auburn University. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/inroads/feltongf.html


  Assessment Sheet: Students mark whether their partner read more words, faster, smoother, and      with expression. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/fluency.html

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