Reading with Oomph!

Growing Independence and Fluency


Jamie Braswell



As beginning readers start to master phonemes and learn to decode words, they begin to focus more on fluency. Reading fluency is the ability to read faster, more smoothly, and more expressively. Reading with expression makes reading more exciting, and students should learn to do this when reading aloud or silently. In this lesson, we will discuss reading with expression. Students will learn this skill by listening to a passage read aloud in a monotone voice, with a more expressive reading to follow. Students will also practice reading with expression in pairs.


- Wemberly Worried. By: Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books, 2000. (multiple copies—enough for each pair of students and teacher)

- Sentence strips with sentences on them—used for students to practice reading with vocal and facial expressions

             - "Yippee! Today I get to go to the water park! I am going to have so much fun!"

             - "It is raining today. I will not be able to go outside and play when I get home from school. My mom said it is going to rain tomorrow too. That is not fun."

- Peer Evaluation Form/ Checklist for teacher assessment of students reading:

          1. Does your partner/ the student read smoothly?

          2. Does your partner/ the student vary their tone of voice?

3. Does your partner/ the student change tempo in the reading when necessary?

          4. Does your partner/ the student show emotion with facial movement?

- Pencil


1. Ask the students to raise their hands if they enjoy being read to. Explain that today; we are going to listen to the teacher read a few sentences from the book, Wemberly WorriedReview the reading strategy of cover-ups: Remember if you come to a word you do not know, you can cover parts of it up to help you figure out what the word is. For example, in my reading, I came across this word crack, and I did not know what word it was. (Do not say the word yet, just have the word written on the board) I would start with the /a/ and cover up the other letters. Then, I would uncover the c and the r to say /cra/, and finally I would uncover the ck and blend all the sounds together--/crack/. The word I did not know is crack. If necessary review that the ck says /k/ when they are together. Note: Teacher should model using the cover up strategy by writing the above word on the board and then using an index card to cover the parts of it up.
The teacher should make a note to not tell students about using expression when reading yet. The teacher will read a short passage with a monotone voice and then ask the following questions, "Who enjoys the book so far? How did you like the way I read the sentences?" Allow for response time from students. Now the teacher reads the same sentences again, but with a much more expressive voice. Ask the students who enjoyed the second reading better? The class should discuss why they liked the sentences better the second time.

2. Explain to the students that as good readers we want our audience to enjoy what we are reading, and we want to enjoy it too. To get your audience interested in a story, you could read with expression. When I read the sentences the second time, I read with expression and everyone enjoyed it better. One way we can do that is to use the voice the character would use when speaking. If the character is happy, we should use a happy voice, but if he is angry we should use an angry voice, or in our case, when our character is worried, we should speak in a worried voice.

3. Next, the teacher should read the same set of sentences again using vocal expressions as well as facial expressions. "Who liked the way I read it that time? What did you notice about my expressions?" (The students will give a variety of answers here depending on teacher reading.) "Did anyone notice my facial expressions? You can use your face to show how characters are feeling. Every one should watch my face as I read this sentence." The teacher should pick a sentence in which the character is feeling sad, happy and/or angry, and then model the facial expressions for the class.

4. Next, the teachers should have 2-5 sets of sentences written on sentences strips. Have students raise their hands and read the sentences for the class using different voices and expression. The following sentences are included as examples.

- Students should use a happy, excited voice for these sentences. "Yippee! Today I get to go to the water park! I am going to have so much fun!"

- To give the students practice using a sad voice, students could read these sentences.
"It is raining today. I will not be able to go outside and play when I get home from school. My mom said it is going to rain tomorrow too. That is not fun."

5. The teacher will do a book talk. Example book talk: "A mouse named Wemberly is a bit of a worrier. She worries about everything in fact! Soon, Wemberly has a new thing to add to her list of worries: her first day of school is coming soon, and now Wemberly is really worried. Does Wemberly make it through the first day without much worry? We will have to read our book to find out." Each pair of students should receive a copy of Wemberly Worried, and two copies of the Partner Evaluation Sheet (one for each student). Explain that you want each student in the pair to take turns reading this book out loud with expression. While one student is reading, the other student should fill out the sheet on the expression their partner uses while they read. Go over the Partner Evaluation Sheet and discuss each question so that students fully understand the evaluation. Ask if anyone has any questions about reading with expression?

6. Assessment:

- Teachers should use the partner evaluation sheets, as well as walk around and observe the students as they take their turns reading. Teacher should complete their own checklist of how well students use expression.

- Students will write an entry in their daily journal about their worries. The teacher should listen to the students read their journals, and note the expression as well as the content of the journal entry.


Wheeler, Emily. Exciting Expression.

Henkes, Kevin. Wemberly Worried. Greenwillow Books, 2000.

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