To Be Or Not To Be:

Reading with Expression

By Leigh Morgan

Developing Fluency


Rationale:  To truly enjoy reading students need to read with expression.  When expression is given to the text characters come alive and the situations become more personal.  This lesson will help students to understand the importance of expression in reading and give them practice at reading with expression aloud.  In a following lesson the teacher will teach how to internalize expressive reading.



Explain why – "When we read a story we sometimes are concentrating so hard on the words that we forget that words are written speech.  When we read what we say should sound like talk.  Good readers know how to make reading sound like talk.  Today we are going to learn to be reading actors who act out our reading with our voice."


"Sometimes we need to read the book through one time first to be sure that we understand the words.  It we meet a word that we do not know we can use our strategies to figure it out.  First give it a shot.  You can use cover-ups to do this or you can try chunking.  If that doesn’t work read on to see what would make sense.  If that guess does not fit change your guess and check it with sentence.  Once you have figured out the word, go back and read the sentence again.  For example if I saw this sentence – See the elephants march around the circus tent.  I do not remember what this word is (underline the word circus).  I can cover up the end of the word and try to figure it out by adding it together bit-by-bit.  /k//I//r//s//u//s/.  The kirsus tent?  That doesn’t make sense.  Maybe the c says /s/.  /s//I//r//c//u//s/.  The sircus tent?  Oh, the circus tent!"

 Explain How: 

"When we are sure of the words then we can add expression.  That is the fun part!  When we use expression we use our voice to act what we read."


"I am going to read this sentence two times.  Tell me which one you like best."  Read – I love going to the beach!  "Which one did you like best?  The second time sounded like I meant it.  I can even read nonsense words with expression.  Listen to this poem.  It has lots of nonsense words, but see if you can tell what is happening."  Read "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carol to the class.  "Could you tell what was happening in the story?  How could you tell?  Reading expressively helps to tell the story."

 Simple Practice: 

"I am going to give you a card with a few sentences on it.  I want you to pair up and read your sentences to each other.  Be the best actor you can be.  Make your voice very expressive.  The best actors may perform for the class if they want to."

 Whole Texts:

"Pick up a copy of Put Me In The Zoo.  Swap partners and take turns reading to each other in your best expressive voice."


Rotate around to each group while they are reading to each other and listen in.  Make notes on each student as they read.  Discuss the results with the students individually throughout the day.  If the students are comfortable with reading to you have them read a few sentences to you.


Autumn Aldrich, Wow! Excellent!  Oh, Expression!

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