Express Yourself!


Growing Independence and Fluency Design

By: Jenna Ward

Rationale: While reading an experienced reader reads with expression and enthusiasm.  This quality is not a natural one that all readers are born with.  This quality must be taught and practiced just like any subject or concept taught in the classroom.  In this lesson second graders will be taught about expressive reading, why we do it, and how it is done.

Materials: Chalkboard, chalk, Oh the Places You'll Go! By Dr. Seuss, sentences made up by the teacher (for the activity on the board), chart with teacher made up sentences on it (with and without end punctuation marks), 1 copy of What Will the Seal Eat? By Sheila Cushman for each student, and one assessment checklist for each child

Sample Sentences:     I love strawberry ice cream!
                                    Ouch, that hurts!
                                    Do you like to swim?
                                    Have you ever eaten a pineapple?
                                    I can’t wait to go to the beach!

Chart Sentences:       This is Justice Park.

Do you like pizza?

I can’t wait for my birthday party!

Where is my baseball

Look out

This is my sister, Abby

Sample Checklist:      Does the student change his or her voice to high or low?

                                    Does the student change his or her voice to loud or soft?

                                    Doe the child change the inflection in his/her voice according

                                    to the end punctuation mark?

Is there a distinctive difference when the child reads with

                                    expression rather than reading with no expression?


1. The teacher will explain to the children exactly what expressive reading is. In order to read with expression your voice must get louder and softer, and go up and down depending on what's going on in the story.  If the story gets suspenseful then your voice might get very loud like this or if it is a happy story your voice might get soft and calm like this. The teacher will also explain why we use expression when we read. If I were to never use expression when I read stories to you, they would get pretty boring wouldn't they?  So we use expression when we read to make it more interesting and fun!
2.Now I am going to read Oh the Places You'll Go! 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, OK.  The teacher will proceed by reading a few of the pages with expression and some without good expression, watching what the children do.
3. “Now I am going to write some sentences up here on the board and I want someone to volunteer to read it without good expression and then once more with good expression.  OK, Aden, what about this, ‘I love strawberry ice cream!  The children will one at a time volunteer to read a sentence, first without expression and then with it.
4. The teacher will now review the use of exclamation points, periods, and question marks at the end of sentences.  She will be sure to ask the children questions about how the speakers/readers expression changes depending on which end punctuation mark is used.  This will be a class discussion with a few examples of the differences between the three, both given by the teacher and the class. “OK class, let's all look over at this chart over here where I have some sentences written down.  As you can see the first ones have punctuation marks at the end of them, but the last ones do not.  Who would like to come up and read this first sentence with lots of expression, according to which end mark is there?” "I can’t wait for my birthday party."  “Great!  Now who can come up and read this next one?  It is the same sentence but it has a different end punctuation mark doesn't it?” "I can’t wait for my birthday party!"  “Good job! Once the students get down to the sentences without end punctuation marks they will come up one at a time to read the sentence and add the end mark of their choice.
5. Next, the teacher will ask the students to pull out their copies of What Will the Seal Eat? By Sheila Cushman. I want each of you to read silently for a few minutes until I say stop.  If you finish the story before I call time, reread it.  Okay, read! After the students have read the story at least once, then the class will be divided into pairs.  The students will take turns reading the story to one another, practicing using expression and paying attention to punctuation marks.  
6. For assessment, the teacher will walk around to each pair of students and answer the checklist for each student.  For example, the teacher will walk around the room watching and taking notes on each child, noticing whether they are reading with expression or not.  She will be sure not to leave any child's observation space blank.  She will also step in and offer assistance if needed.


Parrish, Melissa. Use Expression!

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

Giesel, Theodore Seuss. Oh! The Places You’ll Go! Random House. New York. (1990).

Click here to return to Constructions