Robyn Shields
Fluent Reading

“Can You Feel the Book?”

Rationale:  In order to become fluent readers, children must learn to read expressively.  In this lesson, students will improve their reading fluency through repeated and dyad reading.  By rereading text, students will begin to understand the significance of expression in reading and how to use expression appropriately.  By working with partners, students can get feedback on their expression in reading while also learning what difference expression makes when listening to a reader.

Materials: Sentence strips, Selection of decodable books appropriate for all reading levels that exist in the classroom (colored dots to clarify reading level), 4 index cards for each student, crayons, Yo, Yes? By Chris Raschka.

1. Explain to the students what expression means and why it is important.  “Today, we are going to practice using expression in our reading.  Do any of you know what expression is?  Expression is when we put feeling in our words.  When we read, reading with expression is how we feel the book.  In other words, we feel the emotions that the writer wants us to feel.  One type of expression that we often use in reading is excitement.  (Model a sentence with excitement).  Another common expression is confusion.  (Model a sentence with confusion).  Can any of you think of another common type of expression?  (If students respond, ask them to give an example).  The last type of expression I am going to mention is sadness.  (Model a sentence with sadness).”

2. Make expression cards for later activity.  “Now I am going to give each of you 4 index cards.  Use any color crayons you want and on one card make a frowning face to symbolize sad, on another card make a smiley face to symbolize excitement, on another card make a smiley face with a straight line for the mouth and that will symbolize confused, and on the last card write the word other (Write other on the board for students to copy).”

3. Review punctuation with the students and explain how punctuation can let us know what kind of expression to use when we read sentences.  Model each one for the class.  (I can’t find my puppy.  This is fun!  What are you doing here?)  Tell the students: “When I read a sentence that ends with a period, my voice goes down at the end (read first sentence).  You could also tell that I was sad because I sounded like I was whining.  When I read the sentence that ends with an exclamation point, my voice goes up at the end and you can tell I am excited (read second sentence).  The last sentence I am going to read ends in a question mark, and my voice will go up and you can tell I am confused.  Now I am going to read all three sentences again without any expression.  (Read the sentences)  See what a difference expression makes when you read!  It makes the book so much more fun and exciting to read.  Now I am going to give you all a chance to practice reading using expression.”

4. Read a book such as Yo, Yes? By Chris Raschka and model for the students how to use expression when reading a whole text.  Say: “Now I am going to read a book for you so you can see how much expression is used when reading a whole book.  I am sure you will notice what a difference it makes.  Pay attention because after I am finished reading, I am going to give you all an opportunity to read a whole book with a partner using expressive voices.”

5. Students will be put in pairs and each will select a book according to their reading level.  Say: “I want each of you to pick out a book with a colored dot that is your level.  Then I am going to put you with a partner and you can practice reading your books to each other.  While your partner is reading you should take the four cards you made and when you hear them read a sentence that sounds like one of those expressions then you hold up that card so they know they are doing a good job of reading with expression.  Then, you will switch and the other person will read and the person who has already read will hold up their expression cards” Model for the students how this activity will work.  Read a sentence, e.g. “This is fun!”  and then hold up the smiley face card to show that this is an example of what the card holder will do when a student reads a sentence with excitement.

6. While the students are doing their dyad reading, pass out one sentence strip to each child.  When the students are done reading tell them: “Now I want each of you to select your favorite sentence that you read with expression and write it on the sentence strip that I handed you.  Be sure to include the punctuation at the end of the sentence.”

7. For assessment, have the students go around and read the sentence that they have written on their sentence strip.  Say: “Now, we are going to go around the room and each of you will have a chance to read your sentence.  Be sure to use your very best expressive voice because the rest of the class will be using their cards to vote on what they think your expression is.  Remember, hold up the smiley face card for excitement, the frowning face for sad, the smiley face with a straight line for the mouth for confused, and if you think it is none of these then hold up the card that says other.  When each person reads their sentence then we will count which expression gets the most votes and the reader can tell you if the class is mostly right.”

Reference: Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.
                       Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1995.  pp.122-145.

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