You've Got to…Express Yourself!

Melanie Starr
Growing Independence and Fluency

Rationale: Students should learn to read with expression as they become more fluent readers.  This lesson is designed to help students read with expression by changing the tone and pitch of their voice, as well as their facial expressions.  This will be achieved by practicing reading whole text to one another and then in a tape recorder.

Materials: sample paragraph provided; a fictional picture book on the level of your students per two students; a tape per two students; several tape recorders (four is a good number); paper; pencil; chalk; chalkboard; checklist

1. Introduce the lesson by reading the sample paragraph* twice.  First read it with no expression and then read it again with lots of
    expression.  Ask the students which way they liked hearing the short story (they should say the more expressive one).  "It is a lot
    more interesting to listen to a story when the reader is using a lot of instruction.  The same goes for when you read a story silently.
    The more expression you use, the more interest you have in the story line.  What are some other reasons why reading with expression
    is important?  (some points to bring up is excitement, curiosity, suspense, and a better comprehension by making the story
    memorable) Let's make a list of ways on the chalkboard of how to become expressive."  Some ideas are to change the tone and pitch
    of your voice and using sound effects.
2. Pair the students off, giving each group a fictional picture book.  Instruct the groups to practice reading the book to each other
    using expression.  Remind them the way you read the paragraph expressively and have them mimic you if they have difficulty.  Once
    they feel comfortable reading expressively, have them record themselves reading into a tape recorder.  Then have them listen to
    themselves and their partner and have them constructively critique one another.  **Children should choose another fictional picture
    book if they come across two words they do not know.  Have them hold up two fingers as they read and put a finger down if they
    reach a word they do not know.  If both fingers are down, they need to choose another book because that book is too difficult for
3. If the students feel the need, they can rerecord their story.  These tapes will be turned into the teacher for an assessment (look at
    checklist below).  If the students are comfortable talking in front of the class, they may read their story in front of the class using
    expression as another option for assessment.
4. As an extension and writing activity, the students can write their own expressive paragraph and read them to the class.  This can also
    be used as an assessment.

Reference: Adams, Marilyn Jager. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print: A Summary. Pp. 92-93. 1990.

    *On a dark, rainy night I was home all alone.  Curled up under a silky smooth blanket, I sat in front of the glowing fire gleaming from the fireplace.  I was reading a mystery book that I could not tear myself away from…a real page-turner.  Just as I was reading the scariest part in the book, I heard it!  Crreeep…CRASH!  It startled me so much that I jumped out of my skin!  What could it be?!  Slowly, I creeped to my kitchen where they sound had come from.  I slowly opened the door and peered inside.  I could not believe my eyes!  In my kitchen was my sweet furry kitten, Muffin.  She had knocked over the garbage can…again!  I guess I should have known from the horrible stench that now filled the house!

Assessment Checklist

Is the reader reading fluently? (not pausing)
Is the reader changing his/her tone of voice?
Does the reader use sound effects?
Is the reader audible and clear?

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