Let Me Hear Expression!
Heather Grenon






Rationale:
 Reading fluently takes a lot of practice.  The four most important skills for improving reading are reading silently, smoothly, with speed, and expression.  The way a person reads a book can make or break the story.  The goal of this lesson is to practice reading with expression.  The students will practice using various tones, pitches, speeds, and expressions to make a sentence from a story more exciting.

Materials:
 Penelope Jane by Roseanne Cash, chart paper and markers, the chant I'm A Little Flower Seed (the words are provided below), a Federal "Express" box, sentence strips with various sentences on them (questions, exclamations, etc.), tape, age appropriate passages of your choice from Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends, age appropriate paper and pencils.

Procedure:
1. I will begin the lesson from Penelope Jane.  I will read the first page with a very boring and monotone voice.  I will then read the second page with excitement and expression.  I will then ask, "Which page was more interesting for you to listen to; the first or the second page I read?  That's right, the second.  Why do you think that is?  That's right, because I read with expression in my voice.  Have you ever noticed listening to stories that are read with expression keeps us interested in them?  That is what we will be practicing today; reading with expression!"
2. I will then read the chant I'm A Little Flower Seed out loud with a lot of expression from our chant paper while the children follow along silently.  I will use expression, speed, and tone to make the passage come to life.

"I'm a little flower seed,
I'm planted in the dirt.
I feel the sun come down on me,
To warm this big old earth.
The rain falls down on me,
And gets ride of my big thirst.
I become a big and pretty flower,
So you can pick me first."
This is how I will model using expression when reading.  After I have finished, I will ask the students what they noticed I did with my voice when I read the chant (made it softer, made it louder, speed up, slowed down, etc.)
3. We will then write down all the things we can think of that we can do to make our voice change on chart paper.  The list may include things like whisper, shout, speed up, slow down, our voice goes up at the end of a question, etc.
4. The children will then take one sentence strip out of the Federal "Express" box.  They will read the sentence with as much expression needed to make the sentence interesting.  Then we will discuss which expression the child used on our list we just made on the chart paper.
5. For practice, the students will pair up and receive one copy of a poem from Where the Sidewalk Ends.  They will take turns reading the passage with expression to one another.  Then they will give each other pointers on what they thought was good, and give suggestions on how they could make it better.  Each student will then reread their passage using the suggestions they were just given.
6. I will be using oral assessment.  "Everyone must pick a sentence from the poem you just read to your partner.  Does everyone have a sentence?  Good!  Now, write that sentence down on a piece of paper.  Each one of you will stand up and read your sentence out loud with expression.  If the class agrees you read your sentence with expression, you will receive a thumbs up from them.  If not, you can try it again."

References:
Adams, Marilyn.  Beginning To Read.  1990.  Center for the Study of Reading.

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