The Voice Makes Meaning

By Andrew Gracia

Rationale:  For children to become better readers, not only to themselves but also to others a key element should be present.  This key element is learning to read fluently.  This involves smooth reading, expression, silent and speed-reading.  This lesson will focuses on students learning to read with expression.  Students will become aware of how their voices can make various expressions, softness/loudness pitches, and other factors that can affect their reading.


Dry erase markers

Dry erase board

Variety of decodable texts with various levels                    

Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord: Scholastic Press, New York, NY. c 2010

Two copies of the same book for each reading individual group

Paper and pencil

Sheet of premade sentences for assessment

Procedures: 1. To begin the lesson teacher will talk with the class and let them know that it is not just a good thing


to be able to read books, stories, passages and poetry but it is even better to be able to learn new things that can help


with becoming a better reader.  Have you ever heard someone recite a poem or a short story? If you have then you


might know that they do not just read words they use expression when reading or reciting. Can anyone share with us


what expression means? (Give enough time for students to respond and make note of responses)  Thank you for


giving such good answers. Expression is how we look with our face when asking for something or responding to a


question.  It is also how we make our voice change based on certain words that we read.  So today, we will learn


some new ways to be expressive readers and I hope that each of you will learn some new ways to be expressive


when you read to yourself or to someone. This will help especially in story telling readings.


2.The teacher asks the students a follow up question to expression.  Has anyone ever heard someone read a story with lots of expression?  (Give students enough time to share their answers)  So what do you think expression done to the story?  Was its better or was it just average? (Give students enough time to share their answers)  How can we read a story with a lot of expression?  Give me some ideas of ways that we can do that?  Teacher will make sure to write these answers on the board and leave them up for future reference for the students. Thanks for sharing such great answers.  Therefore, in the lesson when it asks us to read I want you all to refer back to the board and use some of these expression ideas.  Remember to be an expressive reader you need to use these.


3.The students now gather around the teacher so he/she can demonstrate how to use expression in reading a story.  Now boys and girls I will begin to read part of the story from Hot Rod Hamster.  Teacher will give a book talk when reading this book.  How many of you have heard of this book?   Now I am going to read a selection from the book.  I will read it in the perspective of the hamster.  What that means is that I will read it as if I was the hamster and it is from his view of things.  I want you to listen closely as I read sections of the book and see if you can hear the various expression changes by hamster. This is a great book for you to read later by yourself.  The teacher will read two pages.  “ Great day, grin day, build a car to win day, Cheer day, chase day, gonna have race day!”  Hamster says, “I need a hot rod!” A hot rod for a hamster?  You will need something very small.  Hamster says, “and FAST!” Which car will you choose? Hamster says, “I’ll take the green car.  It is just my size.  YES! I want to BURN RUBBER!”  So boys and girls was that an exciting book.  Do you think that I was being expressive when I read those parts of the story? (Give students enough time to share their answers)  Therefore, since you all agree that I was not expressive when I read the book, share with me ways that I can be more expressive so the story will be more interesting.   (Give students enough time to share their answers)  Thanks for all the great input.  Now I will re-read those sections and I want you to listen closely to see if I have added expression to the story.  The teacher reads those sections and this time it is with expression.  Now boys and girls did that sound much better since I added expression to the story.  Did you notice how my voice changed from soft to loud? Teacher will show the students how to make the voice pitch change.


4. Now each of the students need to get into their assigned buddy reading group and find a place to sit down and be quite while I pass out the books.  Teacher hands out texts to the individual groups that are decodable and within their reading levels. When handing out the books make sure each group has a copy for each member and that the groups have different books. Now I want everyone to listen to the directions of how we will do this activity.  I want each of you to read you book silently this will help you become familiar with the story and the words.  Once each member has read the story I want one member of each group to read the story to the other member of your group.  Remember when you read this to your reading friend do not use any expression.  After you have read it to them, the both of you need to come up with ideas that can make the story more expressive.  Make a list of ways and then write a few sentences that can use more expression in them.  Once your list has been made, the other reading friend will read the story but they will use the list of ways to be more expressive.  Remember to be very expressive in reading to your friend.  Remember if you have trouble reading certain words in the story you can use your cover-ups method, say the vowel sound first  and then blend the sounds together, or have your buddy help you if that does not work.  Model and practice will help when using cover-ups method.


5.For assessment, the teacher will have already premade sentences written out on a sheet of paper.  The students will read these using different forms of expression example, sad, happy, mad, excited, slow pace, and fast pace.  The teacher will call each student up to his or her desk and have then read the sentences with the teacher choosing the expression.  For example, one sentence can be: Tommy told his best friend Jim that he was going to be moving to Texas and they would have to email each other to stay in contact. (use sad tone expression)  Another sentence: Susie just found out that she made the cheerleading team and she shares this information with her mom. (use excited tone)  Students should show expression when reading individual sentences. Students should show a change in voice that is not like their normal reading voice.


Kelly Terrana lesson- Express Yourself-


Book called Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord: Scholastic Press, New York, NY. c 2010


Picture from Microsoft Clip Art

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