Using Expression
By Laura Pope
Growing Independence and Fluency

Rationale:  It is very important for children to become fluent readers.  Beginner readers focus most of their attention to decoding words.  For students to become better readers they must read faster, smoother, more expressively.  In time, students will be able to do this.  It is important, however, for students to be able to listen to a fluent reader and then practice.  The goal of this lesson is to help students read with expression.  They will learn about the changes that a voice can use to show different kinds of expression.

Materials:  “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst, grade appropriate basal readers, sentences strips (2 per child) with various sentences-for example “Lee walked around the corner and James yelled BOO!”, chart paper, checklist with name of each student

1. I will begin by demonstrating the use of expression.  I will say “Happy Birthday,” the first time with a happy expression, the second time with no expression.  “Which ‘Happy Birthday’ sounded like I meant it?” (The first)  “What was it about the way I said it that convinced you?” (My voice)  “Today we are going to learn how to use our voices to show expression in reading."

2. I will read a story “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” as the students sit on the floor in a semi-circle.  As I read I will use appropriate expressions.  For example, I will read with a frustrated expression when saying “I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”

3. Next I will have the children brainstorm about things we can do to with our voices to change our expressions.  Ideas for the list may be to say things quietly, to say things loudly, gradually get loud or gradually get soft.

4. With these ideas we will make a chart.  Each child will have a sentence strip with a sentence.  They will read the strip and decide which category the strip should go under.  Categories may include:  loud, soft, gradually loud, gradually soft, frustrated, excited, etc.  For example, one sentence could read:  “The thunder CRASHED and the lightening FLASHED!”  This sentence would go under the loud category.  Each student will have a chance to read and categorize his/her sentence strip.

5. Students will get into pairs (according to reading level) for extra practice.  Students will use the basal readers to read a story to his/her partner.  I will walk around, listening to the students, giving praise, and making comments and suggestions.

6. For assessment I will give each student a sentence strip (different from the one in step 4).  I will have each student come to my desk and read his/her sentence using the appropriate expression.  I will use a checklist and check each student off as he/she reads.  I will note any student that has difficulty so that he/she can receive additional help as needed.  I will discuss with each student how he/she used expression as is appropriate for his/her sentence.

Fant, Shea.  Express Yourself.

Rouse, Mary.  Loud of Soft?  Quick or Slow?

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