Expression Is the Key

Growing Independence and Fluency
Amy Locklier




Rationale:  Fluency is rapid, accurate word recognition that promotes clear and easy expression in reading.  Repeated readings with explicit guidance and feedback from the teacher is one way to develop fluency.  Students need to learn to read with expression.  They also need to learn that the way that something is read can change the way that it is interpreted by the listener. 


Materials:  Chalkboard, chalk, copies of "Heart Stopper" a poem by Brod Bagert, The Dragon: A Play (Short Land Publications, Inc.), primary paper and pencil, assessment checklist.



1.  Begin with reading "Heart Stopper" by Brod Bagert with expression.  "We are going to read two readings today.  One is a poem and one is a play. We are going to read them with the more expression than we have ever read with before.  I want you to read like you speak. "


2.  "Do you read like this?  ( In monotone voice) I'm standing on the stage or I-i-i-i'm st-an-ding o-n the st-a-ge,".  We will talk about cross checking. "When I have problems with a word or even a whole sentence, I go back over the sentence and read it again from the beginning.  I say it as if I am speaking.  This gives me a chance to collect myself and the information that I just read.  This is what I like to call getting my running start.  I would like for all of you to try getting a running start if you struggle today or just need to remember where you are in the story or poem."


3.  "Can someone tell me what a period means? (Students will hopefully reply that it signals the end of a sentence and a need to pause).  I am going to introduce you to another form of punctuation today.  One is called an exclamation point.  Does anyone know what one looks like?  Can you show me?  (There most likely will be at least one child in the class who can model writing an exclamation point on the board).  Will you come show the class how to write one?"  Have the students write one on their primary paper. "You guys are so smart I bet that we can learn another form of punctuation today.(Repeat previous with learning about the comma.)" 


4.  Then, model how the comma and the punctuation change the way that you read a sentence.  Show how the comma means a slight pause and the exclamation point signals added expression.  "I am going to read two sentences using the comma and not using the comma.  Tell me which one makes more since.  'I'm standing on the stage the play's about to start'  and now,' I'm standing on the stage, The play's about to start,'.  Which one sounded better?  Let's talk about reading with expression and how the exclamation signals added expression.  When I read the next sentence tell me which one sounds better.  'I was going to be a star.' or 'I was going to be a STAR!'.  I think that being a star of a is a very big deal.  What do you think?  Should we ready like 'I was going to be a star.'."


4.  "I am going to read this poem to you.  You all have copies so read along with me. I am going to read it once with expression and using the punctuation and then once without  (Read the poem.).  Which one did you like better and which one made more since?  We need to use the punctuation to make it easier for the listener to understand."


5. " Now, I am going to pair you all up.  I want you to read your book and make sure that you get a running start if you have any problems.  Remember what the commas and exclamation points mean."  Have them read The Dragon: A play. 


6.  The teacher should have checklist made up for the lesson.  This checklist should include the use of cross-checking, recognizing the punctuation, and speaking with expression.  The teacher should pull each child up one by one and have them read the short poem by Brod Bagert.


Reference: by Melinda McDonald

Sadoski, M. (2004).  Conceptual foundations of teaching reading.  New York: 

    The Guilford Press. (p. 101).

Cowley, J. (1989).  The Dragon: A Play.  Auckland: Shortland Publications Limited.

Bagert, B. (2002). Giant Children. New York:  Scholastic, Inc.

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Any questions ?   Email  Amy  Locklier.