It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want to….

Growing Independence and Fluency Design
By: Cendy Burbic

 
Rationale:
Reading fluency is the ability to read faster, smoother, and with more expression. In order for students to become fluent readers, they must "read and reread decodable words in connected text." Reading with expression includes changing pitch and tone of the voice to better fit the text. Reading with expression creates more interest and wonder in the story children are reading. As teachers, we want reading to be enjoyable for students so they will read more, hence becoming more fluent readers. We as teachers should model reading with expression to students so when they read independently, they too will learn to read with expression. This lesson focuses on students reading and rereading decodable books so they can learn to read with expression. The students will do this by playing different parts in the story.
 
Materials:
  1. Does the child read smoothly?
  2. Does the child demonstrate facial expression?
  3. Does the child's voice change (high or low pitch) as he/she reads?
  4. Does the child appear to have an overall understanding of expression?
 
Procedure:
1.    Good morning students. Today we are going to work on expression. Does anybody know what expression is? Can anyone show me how to use expression? (Allow a few students to offer information if they know). The dictionary tells us that an expression is "A facial aspect or a look that conveys a special feeling." This means that when you say something with expression, you have feelings in your face, voice, etc. to go along with what you are saying.

2.    I'm going to say two statements and I want you pay close attention and tell me, which one makes more sense to you. Ready? Happy Birthday (say it with a huge smile, higher pitch, bright eyes) Happy Birthday (say it the second time with a frown, low voice, kind of deep tone, don't even look at students). Students which "happy birthday" would you believe that I truly meant, the first one or the second one? Which one would you rather hear on your birthday? Very good! The first Happy Birthday was better because I said it with more expression and you believed me.

3.    Well expression also plays a huge part in reading. If I were to read to you this sentence with a frown on my face and kind of quiet: "Jim came to the edge of the cliff to look off and the rocks started to slide out from under his feet," you might not be very interested. But if I read it to you like this "Jim came to the edge of the cliff to look off and the rocks started to slide out from under his feet" (show expression by opening your eyes real big like something is about to happen, speak words slower with anticipation) then you might get anxious to find out what happens and read the rest of the story, right? Today we are going to work on expression as we all read.

4.    Birthday Cake-Book talk. This is a play where the dog, cat, pig, and cow help us celebrate the Birthday. How can we celebrate a birthday? Good, balloons, sing "Happy Birthday", eat cake, open presents. Let's find out how the dog, cat, pig, and cow celebrate in the play.  Each character has their own part, and you will get to pretend you are one of the animals in the play. Don't forget your costume, since actors and actresses use costume to play a character. What do we need to use while we read the play? Good Expression! 

5.    Everyone will have their own part in the story. First of all, I want you to all read the story silently to yourself. Then we will split up into small groups and I will assign each of you an animal to be. In the small group, I want you to read the part of the animal that I assigned you. (Pass out the book The Birthday Cake to each student as you are giving instructions). Ask students what makes good actors and actresses in a play. Be sure they understand that actors and actresses have good expressions.

6.    Give students ample time to read the story silently. When students start to finish up waiting on others, encourage them to reread the story and explain to them how rereading helps us to read the story better since it is more smooth and quick.

7.    Have paper with each animals name written on it, in the bag. Go to each table and allow each student to draw the animal out that they will be. Once they have drawn an animal, give them the appropriate costume (dog ears, cat ears, pig nose, cow spots). Students will then take turns in their group reading the story. Encourage students to read with expression and to help each other with the expressions if they get confused. Monitor and take notes to see how quickly the students are reading the story. When students begin to get through, have them make a list on a sheet of paper of the characteristics that make expression important and the difference it makes.

8.    Be sure to walk from group to group monitoring their reading and listening to each child. Create a checklist to assess each child as you hear them read. Possible questions you might include are:
  1. Does the child read smoothly?
  2. Does the child demonstrate facial expression?
  3. Does the child's voice change (high or low pitch) as he/she reads?
  4. Does the child appear to have an overall understanding of expression?

Reference:
Auburn University, Reading Genie Web site: Kelly McIntosh, "Happy Birthday or Boring Birthday."
 http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/guides/mcintoshgf.html
 
The Birthday Cake: a play, Joy Cowley. Shortland Productions Limited, 1981.

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