“The Art of Expression”

By Erin Pringle

For a student to be a successful reader, fluency is essential.  When a child learns to read fluently, they increase their comprehension level tremendously.  Being fluent, enables the child to spend more time, and focus more effort, into the meaning of the story, rather into decoding the words.  Reading fluency is defined by the ability to be able to recognize words accurately and automatically, and to be able to read smoothly and with expression.  When children become fluent readers, they increase their comprehension which is the ultimate goal of reading!  

Chart paper
Flashcards for every child labeled with different emotions (happy, sad, scared, and surprised)
“Teach us Amelia Bedelia” by Peggy Parish (A copy for each student)
 “How Are They Feeling?” expression evaluation sheet:  
Evaluation Sheet:   
I.  My partner’s voice changed as he/she read……. YES or NO
II.  My partner acted like he/she was enjoying reading………YES or NO
III.  The way my partner read the book made me want to read it…….YES or NO
IV.  My partner sounded sad and happy in the same story……. YES or NO

1. Today we are going to be discussing a technique that will improve our reading.  The technique that we are going to be discussing and improving today is reading with expression.  Who can tell me what it means to read with expression?  (The student will hopefully say that it means to show feelings when you read, or express through your reading how the character might be feeling.)  Reading with expression makes the story very entertaining, and much more interesting.  When a story becomes interesting for us, it also becomes easier to understand.  Like Johnny said, reading with expression is important because it lets the listener help know how the character is feeling.  What are some other reasons that reading with expression is important?

2. Now, I am going to read an excerpt of the book, “Teach Us Amelia Bedelia.”   I want you to all listen carefully.  Tell me which way makes the story sound “better” and more interesting.  After you listen to both of my reading styles, we will vote on which one everyone likes best.  I will go around the room and have the students tell me what made one or the other better.  <Read a paragraph in a steady monotone voice, then reread the same paragraph using very diverse and appropriate expression and differing tones.>  

3. Ok, I am sure that everyone could hear a difference in my reading, we are going to take a vote and see which method seemed to be the ”favorite” way to read. (The class will vote – and hopefully expression will win by a landslide!) Now that we have voted, we can clearly see that people prefer reading with emotion.  I am now going to pass out a copy of “Teach Us Amelia Bedelia,” to every two people.  I will place you in groups of two.  Within your group, I want to you practice reading with expression.  The first person will read the first, and then second person will read after a certain amount of specified time.  While one partner is not reading, they will be listening.  Afterwards, they will fill out the emotional assessment sheet based on their partners reading.   The sheet will contain the following questions:

4. For a final independent assessment, I will have children come up and I will have a sentence written.  For each child I will ask them to read the same sentence showing different emotions.  For example, the sentence may be: “It’s raining outside today.”  And I may ask them to read it: happy, sad, questioning, scared, and shy.  If they can complete this activity and I note a change in their voice, I will know that they understand reading expression.  

1. Be Expressive, Amanda Starnes.  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/inroads/starnesgf.html
2. Express yourself, Amy Strickland.  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/inroads/stricklandgf.html
3. Parish, Peggy.  Teach Us Amelia Bedelia.  Scholastic Reader.  1977. pgs. 56.