Let Me Hear Expression!
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.
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.
"I'm a little flower seed,
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 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
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."
Adams, Marilyn. Beginning To Read. 1990. Center for
the Study of Reading.
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