Expression Direction

Independence and Fluency Design

Emily Borders

In order to be a good reader, one must learn to read fluently with much expression.  This skill should be taught to children with much practice following.  In this lesson, readers will be taught how to read with expression.  They will be given a chance to practice reading with expression by reading sentences off the board.

Materials: Chalkboard, chalk, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, sentences made up by the teacher (for the activity on the board), flip chart for teacher made up sentences (with and without end punctuation marks), What Will the Seal Eat? By Sheila Cushman, sheet with every student's name on it for taking notes and assessment.
sample sentences:  I love the beach!
                                  Ouch, that hurt!
                                  Do you know  sign language?
                                  No way, I would never bungee jump!
                                  Do you like vegetables
                                  I  can't wait to go on vacation                                  

Sample Checklist:

1. Does the student change his voice from high to low and vice versa?
2. Does the student change his voice from louder to softer and vice versa?
3. Does the child change the inflection of his voice corresponding with the end punctuation mark?
4. Is there a distinct difference between the child's reading without expression and the child's reading with expression?


1. The teacher will share about expressive reading with the students.  In order to read with expression, your voice must get louder and softer, and higher and lower depending on the story’s action.  If the story gets thrilling, your voice might get very loud like mine is now.  Iif it is a happy story your voice might get soft and quiet like this.  The teacher will also explain why we use expression when we read.  Do you think you would enjoy a story that was read to you without expression?  (Read a page of a book with no expression)  Was that interesting?  NO!!  Expression helps make the story we are reading more fun and interesting.
2. Now I am going to read Green Eggs and Ham! By Dr. Seuss.  If I am using good expression then I want you to hold up a thumbs up sign, and if I'm not then hold up a thumbs down sign. The teacher will read a few of the pages with expression and some without good expression, paying attention to the signal the children give.  EX:  I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am. (read with no expression).  Re read with much expression: I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am!! 
3. I am going to write some sentences on the board and I want someone to volunteer to read it without good expression, then I want you to read the same sentence again with good expression.  What about this sentence, Dee, “I love spring break”  The children will one at a time volunteer to read a sentence, first without expression and then with it.
4. The teacher will review the use of exclamation points, periods, and question marks at the end of sentences.  She will discuss with the children how a speakers/readers expression changes depending on the end punctuation mark used.  This will be a class discussion and a few examples of the differences between the three will be shared, both given by the teacher and the class.
5. OK class, let's all take a look at the sentences I have written on our chart.  As you can see, the first ones have punctuation marks at the end of them, but the last ones don't.  Who would like to come up and read this first sentence with lots of expression, according to which end mark is at the end?  "You love to go to the lake."  Great!  Now who can come up and read this next one?  It is the same sentence but it has a different end punctuation mark.  "You love to go to the lake!"  Good job!  And so on.  When the students get down to the sentences without an end punctuation mark, they will come up one at a time to read the sentence with expression that suggests the punctuation mark of their choice.
6. Next the teacher divide the class into pairs, giving each pair a copy of What Will the Seal Eat? By Sheila Cushman.  Each child will have multiple chances to read the book to their partner, first without any expression at all and then with lots of expression.  They will take turns reading to each other.
7. For assessment, the teacher will walk around the room watching and taking notes on each child, taking notes on their use of expression.  She will be sure not to leave any child's observation space blank.  She will also step in and offer assistance if needed.


Cushman, Sheila. What Will the Seal Eat? Educational Insights. Carson, CA. (1990).

Amy Strickland, Growing Independence and Fluency Design: Express Yourself!

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