Express Yourself!
Angel Moore

Rationale:  It is important for children to learn to read with expression so that it will be easier to comprehend what is being read.  Before children can read with expression they have to be able to identify punctuation marks and the expressions that they stand for.  This lesson will teach children to identify the expression that specific punctuation marks represent so that they will be able to demonstrate feelings as they read.  As children master this skill they will be able to more skillfully comprehend what they are reading in connected texts.

Materials:  paper, pencils, class set of cards with “?”  on one side and “!”  on the other; class set of readers ­ Weavers with the short story, “How About That!” in it (Houghton Mifflin Company); worksheets with sentences that have no punctuation marks

1)  Introduce the lesson by explaining: “In written language there are certain punctuation marks that tell us what expression to make while reading.  Punctuation marks tell us what feelings the author is trying to convey.  This will help you better comprehend what you are reading.”

2)  Write on the board, “Did you have a good spring break?”  “Great!”  Then ask students: Have you ever noticed when you ask a question, your voice goes up at the end of the sentence?  The question mark is what signals us to do that in written language.  Likewise when you hear someone say a sentence with a lot of feeling, the exclamation point is what signals us to read with strong feeling when we see it in written language. Now I am going to read the 2 sentences on the board with expression, which are signaled by the punctuation marks at the end. [Read the sentences with expression.]

3)  Pass out cards with punctuation marks.  “Now as I say each sentence, I wasn’t you to hold up the punctuation mark that signals that expression.”  [Teacher makes up sentences with expression.]

4)  “Now I want you to take out a piece of paper.  I want each of you to write two sentences whose expression would be signaled by a question mark.  Then write two sentences whose expression would be signaled by an exclamation point.  First let's review how to make an exclamation point and a question mark.”  Write on board ­ “!” and “?” while explaining how to write them.

5)  Pass out worksheets of sentences with no punctuation marks and have students write in the appropriate punctuation mark at the end of each sentence.
Have students read, “How About That!”  to themselves, then talk about the story.  Have students come up to the board and write sentences that have strong expression and sentences that end with your voice going up.

Assessment:  For assessment have students read aloud the sentences that were written on the board, so that the teacher can hear that the students are reading with expression.

References:  Adams, Marilyn Jager.  Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.  Reading research and Education Center, Illinois. 1990

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