Aimee Maner
Growing Independence and Fluency

  Let's Be Eager to Express!!

Rationale:  There are important skills that children need to learn in order to become fluent readers.  They are the skills to read faster, smoother, and more expressively.  Many of these skills are mastered in time, however, sometimes it is best to go ahead and demonstrate these skills.  The goal of this lesson is to teach children to read with expression, using their voices in different ways by changing the tone and pitch.

Materials:  A short passage to read for demonstration such as "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine...," chart paper, chalkboard, or a dry erase board to make a chart on, a Federal "Express" box with an envelop addressed to each student that contains two sentence strips with a sentence (the same sentence on both strips) that can be read using expression such as "Why is the sky blue?" or "LOOK OUT, there's a bee!", tape or something to attach the sentence strips to the chart, and age appropriate books (Dr. Seus has good books available to be read with expression, but you may want to choose something a little shorter for them to read in their partner groups such as "Top and Bottoms" by Janet Stevens.

1. I will begin the lesson by saying the sentence, "I am happy today," once with a happy expression with changes in my voice and once with no expression and in a very monotone voice.  "Boys and girls which time when I said "I am happy today" were you convinced that I was really happy?  (The first!)  What did I use/change to convince you?  (My voice!)  Today we are going to use our voices to demonstrate expression as we read and you are all going to get a chance to participate."
2. Before we begin, let's review some of the vowel sounds we have already learned.  Ask the students the following questions: Do you hear the /a/ sound in sat or sit?  Do you hear the /e/ sound in bat or wet?  Do you hear the /i/ sound in wish or hush?  Do you hear the /o/ sound in food or top?  Do you hear the /u/ sound in sun or beg?  (Continue this review with similar questions until the students are familiar with all the vowel sounds).  Then write the words on the board with phonemes that need review.  Have the children read the words so you can see if they can recognize the sounds made in the word.  Let the students know that knowing vowel sounds will help them become better readers.
3. Now that we have reviewed our vowel sounds we can practice our reading.  First I will read a short passage such as "You are my sunshine..." and then we will read it together as a class.  Next, I will read the whole passage with a lot of expression in order to model how to read with expression.  For example, when I say "you make me happy when skies are gray" I will use a higher pitch when I come to the word "happy" and a lower pitch when I come to the word "gray."  We will then analyze and discuss the different things I have done with my voice and then as a class we will read the passage, using expression.
4. Next, we will make a chart of different things we can do with our voice to read with expression.  The children can use some of the ideas we discussed in step 3 when reading "You are my sunshine."  The list may include things such as raise voice gradually, get real soft with your voice and then shout, use a high pitch, use a low pitch, whisper, etc.
5. In a Federal "Express" box I will have an envelope addressed to each student with two identical sentence strips in each envelop for him/her to read.  The children will read the sentence with expression and then they will place it under the correct category on the chart from step 4.  For example, one category may be voice gradually gets softer, and another may be a sudden loud burst.  So, if the child read the sentence, "LOOK OUT, there's a bee," he/she would place his/her sentence under the sudden loud burst category.  Every child will have a turn.
6. For extra practice, have the children pair up in groups of two.  Each pair will choose an age appropriate book that they will each read to their partner.  As they read to each other I will rotate around the room to each pair to make observations, suggestions, and give praise.
7. We are going to do an oral assessment.  Every child will use his/her second sentence strip in this activity.  We will all sit in a circle and one by one I will have each child read their sentence either with or without expression (I will tell them whether or not to read with expression).  The other children have to decide if the sentence was read with or without expression; if they think it was read with expression they will clap their hands and if not read with expression they will not clap their hands..  Once every one votes I will I will reveal the answer to you with my hands (clap for expression and and no clap for no expression).  Ok, who wants to be my first reader?..."

Reference:  "Express Yourself" by Shea Fant

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