Don't Read Like a Robot!

Growing Independence and Fluency

Read Aloud

Shawna Harris


Rationale: In order for students to become fluent readers, they must be able to read accurately, rapidly, and automatically. Fluent reading leads to better reading comprehension, because more mental energy can be spent on understanding the meaning of text rather than decoding it. The goal of this lesson is smooth and expressive reading. Smooth and expressive reading helps the reader to more easily grasp the meaning of the text, leading to improvements in comprehension. This lesson uses repeated readings and discussion of the text to help students learn to read with appropriate expression.

Materials: Copies of Frog and Toad Together for all students and teacher, copies of attached rubric for each student, paper, pencils, whiteboard & markers.

1. Say: When we read, we don't want to sound like robots. We want to sound like people talking and telling a story. We want to read with expression. When we read with expression, it's easier to understand what's going on in the story. Expression also helps us understand how the characters are feeling. For example if I say (use monotone voice) "Tomorrow is my birthday," do you know how I'm feeling? I don't sound very happy about it, do I? What is I say (use excited voice) "Tomorrow is my birthday!" Do you know how I'm feeling now? It's easy to tell when I'm using expression.  We also need to remember what to do if we come to a word we don't know. If I come to a word I don't know, I stop and break it into chunks that I know. Then I blend them all together to find out the word. And I always go back and reread the sentence to make sure I still know what's going on.

2. Say: How do you know what kind of expression to use? You have to read the sentence first. (Write the sentence I don't know where to go. on the board.) Let's look at this sentence. If someone says "I don't know where to go," how are they usually feeling? (Let students volunteer answers, such as confused, worried, scared, etc.) Explain to students that you have to understand what is happening in order to know what kind of expression to use. Explain that there are sometimes other clues as well, such as punctuation. Discuss with students the different types of punctuation and what kinds of expressions they can signal. Write each punctuation mark (period, exclamation point, question mark, comma) on the board as it is discussed. Model for the students how you would read an example sentence with each type of punctuation.

3. Say: Today we are going to read a story from the book Frog and Toad Together. I'm going to read one story with you, and we'll talk about the different kinds of expressions I use. Read the story "The List," using different types of expression to communicate the story. Discuss with students how you used expression and how it helped them to understand the story. Tell students that they will now read the story "Cookies" from Frog and Toad Together. Pair students off and have them take turns reading pages of the story with their partner. As students read, the teacher should walk around, monitoring students' reading and helping as needed.

4. After they have read through the story once, partners should go back through the story and talk about the different moods and feelings they see in the story, and what types of expression they should use to read those parts. They should then reread the story, with the other partner starting this time. They should try to read smoothly and expressively this time, using the expressions they discussed after the first reading. After this second reading, students should evaluate their partner's reading using the attached rubric. Partners should read the story a third and final time, documenting their partners' fluency progress in the appropriate place on the rubric.  These rubrics, along with teacher observations, help assess students' progress toward fluency goals.

5.After students have finished reading and completed their rubrics, the teacher should write on the board the following question: How did Frog and Toad finally stop eating the cookies? Direct the students to write 2-3 sentences to answer the question. These answers can be collected to assess comprehension.

Lobel, Arnold. Frog and Toad Together. New York: Harper Collins, 1971.
Rubric from
Further Information:
Let Your Reading Flow Like Rain by Susie Rogers
Reading with Expression by Kaylee Bess


Fluency Rubric


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