Elizabeth Sauter
Growing Independence and Fluency


Reading fluently is crucial in improving reading skills.  As children learn to read for comprehension and pleasure they will enjoy reading more.  In order to read for understanding, a student must be able to read text with emphasis through reading expressively.  Therefore, students need to hear the difference between reading a sentence and reading it with personality, smoothly, and with different voice inclinations.  In this lesson, students will learn how to read aloud with expression through practice, then will be assessed by other students to be sure they have grasped this concept.

Blank sentence strips (3 per child), Three Blind Mice poem, Happy face cards, copies of When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… for each student, Large period, question mark, and exclamation mark on a poster, tape

1. Explain to students what expression means and why it is important.  “Today we are going to practice using expression in our reading.  Do any of you know what expression is?  Expression is the feeling we put into our words.  When you are playing with your friends do you only use one tone of voice to tell them how you feel?  No. Just like we show our emotions, books also show their emotions. It is our job to be the “emotion detectors.” When we read books we should show emotions such as excitement (model a sentence with excitement), confusion (model a sentence with confusion), sadness (model a sentence with sadness).  Can you think of any more emotions we should show when we read?”  Allow responses and demonstrations from kids.

2. Ask the students if they have ever been read to and the reader never changed their tone of voice.  “It made you pretty bored didn’t it?”  “Listen while I read Three Blind Mice in a boring way and see if you can tell when I start reading it with more expression.

3. Review punctuation with the students and explain how punctuation can let us know what kind of expression to use when we read sentences.  Place sentence strips on the board and model each one for the class. Read Katie stole my pencil.  “When I read a sentence that ends with a period, my voice goes down at the end.  You also could tell I was sad because my voice sounded whiny.”  Read Hooray, I made a homerun!  “When I read a sentence with an exclamation point, my voice goes up at the end so you can tell I am excited.”  Read Do you know where I left my coat?  “When I read a sentence that ends with a question mark my voice goes up and you can tell that I was confused.” Have the students practice reading the sentences on the board with expression and without to their neighbor.

4. Pass each child three strips of paper. “When I hold up a punctuation mark (period, exclamation, or question mark) I want you to write a sentence that displays an emotion ending with that punctuation mark, on your strip of paper.”  After this exercise the children will get a chance to share their sentences with the class and tape them up on the board into emotional categories.

5. Pass out copies of When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really, Angry… to each student.  “Have you ever had a bad day when everything just went wrong, and you just couldn’t help but get angry.  In this book we are going to read about Sophie who has a bad day.  I want each of you to read the book silently to yourself.”  Remind them if they have trouble decoding that they can sound out the vowel and then blend it with the beginning and ending of the word.

6. After children have had a chance to finish reading silently, they will be teamed up with a partner to practice reading with expression.  As one student reads the other student will be listening for appropriate expression.  The student who is not reading will be the “emotion detector” and they will hold up a smiley face card when they detect good expression. Then they will switch roles.  A single peer will be a better critic for the student than initially performing before the class or teacher.

7. For assessment—the children will be assessed as they read the sentences they formulated in the middle of the lesson.  While students are reading to their partner I will walk around the room and listen to the children’s expressive reading.  I will use a checklist the criteria:  No Expression, Some Expression, and Very Expressive.

When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… By Molly Bang, Scholastic, 1999.

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