A Fine, Fine Reader

Growing Independence and Fluency

boy and girl

Traci Leech

Rational: ­
This lesson is designed to help students develop the ability to read independently and fluently.  The lessons focus is primarily on fluency. Fluency will enable the students to read faster, smoother, and with more expression. The students will be given a text.  The students will be asked to read various character parts in the story and express the attitude of their character. Whether reading silently or aloud, the goal of this lesson design is to provide practice in reading expressively.


Materials:       -A board for the teacher to write examples on

                        - Markers or chalk for the teacher to use on the board

-Class set of the book: A Fine, Fine School, by Sharon Creech, published by Scholastic Inc., for reading groups

-Check list for assessment (time for one minute read, how many words, how they are progressing, amount of incorrect words.)

                        - A List of Sentences for the teacher to read and model fluency

1. "Today, we are going to learn to read with expression. To practice, I am going to read you a few sentences from this book, A Fine, Fine School."

"But before we learn to read with expression, lets review what we should do if we came across a word we do not recognize.  Remember, we can use cover-ups, to figure out the words we do not know. To help us figure out the word we cover up part of the word so we can read it a little at a time. Also to help us make sure we have figured out the correct word, we can cross-check, which means we read the rest of the sentence to see if a word makes sense."

2. The teacher should not tell students about using expression and read the first page in a very slow monotone voice.  "Wow, that page did not sound very good, I wonder why?  How did you like the way I read the first page?” “Now let me read the same sentences again."  Now the teacher reads the same page again, but with an expressive voice.  "Who liked the second reading better? Well, why did you like this one so much more?"  The class should discuss why they liked the sentences better the second time.  "You’ll are correct.  The second time I read the sentence my reading improved because I used different tones of voice, I read more smoothly, I did not take long pauses between the words in the sentence, I read quicker, and my facial expression changed with my tone of voice."  The teacher will write these reasons on the board.

3. "As good readers we want our audience to enjoy what we are reading and we want to enjoy it too. Everyone enjoyed listening to the story better when I read with expression.  We are going to learn how to use expression when we read and write to help us feel what we read."


4. "So who can tell me some different ways to read with expression?"  Call on students to create the definition of expression. The students should form the basic idea that expression is how we change the volume, speed, and tone of our voices as we read the text.  Write the definition they have created on the board.  You can explain to the students that the reading speed will make the story more or less suspenseful.  The tone of the reader’s voice will help develop the way the characters are feeling and the pitch of the reader's voice can cause the story to be scary or exciting.


5. "I am going to read a sentence that I have written on the board.  After I read each sentence I want you to lift your hand in the air and give me thumbs up if you think I read with expression or thumbs down if you think I did not use expression when I read the sentence."  The teacher will read each sentence out loud to the class some read with expression and some without.  If the students give me a thumbs down I will call on a student to reread the same sentence I just read but with expression.



- Wow, it has been a wonderful day!

- Ohhhh, my stomach feels so sick.

- Do you like ketchup or mustard on your hotdog?

- Lets go play in the snow!

- How much longer until we will be at grandmas house?

- I think I just saw a deer.

- MMMM, is smells like Grandmas cookies.

- I hope it does not rain today; I want to play at the park.


6. Tell the students that, "today you will be practicing your reading skills by trying to make your voices more expressive.  We will be reading A Fine, Fine School in our reading groups.  This book is about a principal who loves his school so much that he wants to have school all the time.  He wants the students to come to school on Saturdays, and then he adds Sundays, then in the summer and during the holidays.  The students do not have anytime to be with their family or play outside, so they have to think of an idea to stop the principal’s terrible plan. I want you to pretend that you are the characters in our story. As you read your parts remember to read the lines as if you were really speaking them."

7.  Use a line from the text to provide and example of how a character might sound. Explain that the characters will have different voices and that they will express their words differently depending on how they feel about the situations. If the character is excited, we should use an excited voice but if he is angry we should use an angry voice. Students should be divided into groups of three and given a copy of the text.

8. Assign each student in the group a part and the character's lines to read. Give them the opportunity to read through their part silently before asking them to read out load in their groups. Instruct the students to try to relate to the characters, to think about the attitude of the character and how the characters might feel.  Have the students reread the text together in their small groups. Remind them that they are to portray their character to their group members using expression.

9. Have the students practice reading several more times. Tell the students, "Each time you read you should try to become more expressive with your voice."  This should make the students become more and more comfortable and fluent with the text. After the group has read the story two or three times together, ask the students to discuss how each group member portrayed their character and what was happening in the story that caused the students to read that way. I will rotate through the groups and monitor their progress.  They are to help each other read more fluently by giving helpful tips to each other.

Assessment: Once the students have had time to read the story a few time out loud together, I will stop at each reading group.  I will pick two or three pages of the book and have the groups read their parts out loud and with the expression they have been practicing.  I will check the students mainly for fluency and expression as they read their parts to me. 

Example of an assessment checklist:

- How many words read in the one minute read? _______

- Does the student read smoothly? ______

-Does the student vary their tone of voice?

-Does the student change tempo in the reading when necessary? ____

-Does the student show emotion with facial movement? ___

- Is the student progressing? ______


Creech, Sharon. A Fine, Fine School. Scholastic Inc. New York, NY: 2001.

Courtney Hamby: Expression in action


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