Calling All Actors and Actresses! 

Tamara Hill
Growing Independence and Fluency




Rationale:  Reading fluency is the ability to read faster, smoother, and with expression.  In order to accomplish fluency, children need to "read and reread decodable words in connected text."  Reading with expression involves changing the speed, pitch or volume of your voice to enhance understanding of the text once the decoding ability has been mastered.  As teachers, our goal should be to get children excited about reading.  The focus of this lesson is on teaching students to read and reread decodable text with expression.  The students will learn this concept by being actors and actresses in a play that they will read.

Materials:   Which Shoes Do You Choose?  By Aaron Shepard; www.aaronshep.com/rt  (a copy for each child); two sentence posters: "Hello! How are you today?" and "Ewww!  I don't like icky, sticky, slimy worms!"; Expression assessment checklist- Questions: Does the child read smoothly?  Do they show any expression in their voice or on their face to fit the mood that they are trying to act in?  Make comments on each student, so you know what level each child is on.
 

Procedure:    1. "Today, we are going to work on reading with expression!  First, though, let's review what we've learned about coming to words that we don't recognize right away.  Remember, we can use cover-ups, where we cover up some of the word so we can read it piece by piece.  Also we can cross-check, where we do what?...Right that's where we read the rest of the sentence and go back to see if the word makes sense."
2. "O.K. now we can talk about reading with expression."  Show first sentence poster, "Hello! How are you today?"  First read the sentence to the class in a monotone voice and ask the children if there was anything wrong with the way you read that sentence.  Ask them what was missing?..."Expression was missing!  When we read and talk with expression, it makes it easy to understand what is going on in a text.  Now I'm going to read this sentence again with expression, and I want you to see if you can tell a difference." (Read the same sentence except with exaggerated expression, but not fake.)  "Wasn't that so much more exciting?"  Now, have the class read the next sentence, "Ewww!  I don't like icky, sticky, slimy worms," to themselves, silently.  Then have them all read the sentence together, and tell them to read it with expression, like they really mean it.
3.  "Now you are all going to be actors and actresses today."  While you are passing out copies of the play, ask the students what is one quality that makes a good actress?  Whatever they say, tie it in to the fact that they read with whatever expression to fit the mood that their character is in.  If the character is supposed to be sad, the actor's/actresses' face looks sad, and they may read very quietly in a whining voice.  Separate the students into groups of six, and distribute numbers to each child (1-6), and have character's parts numbered 1-6, so that the students already know what their parts are.
4.  "Now I want you to get in your groups, and each group is going to put on the same play."  Tell the students that after you have heard each group go through the play once, they are all going to come together and present their plays in front of the class.
5.  Tell the groups to give nice criticism (on reading with expression) to each person in their group after they have read the play through once.
6.  Assessment:  For assessment, go around to each group as they are reading through the play.  Have a checklist that asks two questions per student.  Questions: Does the child read smoothly?  Do they show any expression in their voice or on their face to fit the mood that they are trying to act in?  Make comments on each student, so you know what level each child is on.
7.  Have groups come back to their desks, and have one group at a time act their play out in front of the class.  Have a pair of dirty shoes and some little props (like hats and shoes) to help the students fill like they are getting in to character.  Let them have fun with it!

References:
 Adams, Marilyn Jager.  Learning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.  A  Summary prepared by: Steven A. Stahl, Jean Osborn, and Fran Lehr.  1990.

http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/elucid/kstarrgf.html -Starr, Kelly.  "Come  With Me to Read Expressively"

http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/elucid/crowgf.html -Crow, Meg.  "Expression Equals Enjoyment"

Shepard, Aaron.  Which Shoes Do You Choose? - www.aaronshep.com/rt

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