Growing Independence and Fluency
By April Casey
Eloquent Experts

Rational:  In order for students to become effective readers, they must develop fluency. Fluent readers can read faster, smoother, and with expression and enthusiasm. They use their voices to make the story interesting. This lesson is designed to help children not only see the importance of being a fluent reader, but also to practice becoming a more fluent reader.

Materials:  punctuation cards with one period, question mark, and exclamation mark for each student, several sets of five or six sentence strips with various expressive phrases on them stuffed in an envelope, for example: "Happy Birthday, Sallie!", "I'm not feeling very well today."; "Help! I'm stuck in this tree!"; etc., copies of the book When Sophie Gets Angry ö Really, Really, Angry· by Molly Bang, pencils, fluency check sheets(piece of paper divided into a chart with spaces for speed, smoothness, expression, volume, and suggestions.

Procedures:  1. Introduce the lesson by saying the phrase, "I am so happy today!" First, say it in a monotone voice, and then say it with lots of expression. Ask the students, Which sounded more convincing to you that I am really happy today, the first or second time that I said it? (Second) Yes! The second one was much more convincing because I changed the volume and expression in my voice to really sound happy. When we read, it is important that we change the expression in our voices to convey they mood of the characters or narrator of a book. Today, each of you will get a chance to practice reading with expression.

2. Have you ever heard someone read or tell a story and you were so interested that you did not want to miss a single word? To become a reader like I have just described, you must read with expression. Listen as a read the following passage. (Choose a passage from When Sophie Gets Angry ö Really, Really, Angry·  - read it with no expression) Ask the students if they would be interested in the story if the whole book were read that way. Then, read the passage a second time, this time modeling expression and volume changes in your voice. Say, Wasn't that much more enjoyable? Now you all get a chance to practice.

3. Pass out punctuation cards. For review, say a few sentences and ask your students to hold up the card that shows a picture of the type of punctuation that should go at the end of the sentence. You might say things like: How are you doing today?, My mother and I are going shopping. , That's a great idea, John! , etc.

4. Have students choose a partner and give each pair an envelope with a set of sentence strips. Instruct students to take turns pulling sentence strips out of the envelope and reading them aloud to each other using the correct expressive voice. The activity may also be turned into a game in which students take turns reading the sentence strips ö sometimes using a monotone voice and sometimes using expression. Their partner must then guess if it is expressive or not.

5. Now have students switch partners. Pass out the fluency check sheets to every student and one copy of When Sophie Gets Angry ö Really, Really Angry· to each pair of students. Instruct students to read to their partner for 2 minutes. After that, they will time their partner reading for 2 minutes 2 more times. If the person reading improves his speed, smoothness, expression, or volume inflection during any of the timed readings, his partner will place a check in the appropriate space on the check sheet.

Assessment:  After practicing with a partner, students will read to the teacher one at a time.

Adams, Marilyn. (1990) Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Reading Research and Education Center: Illinois. Pp 21, 46, 88-94
Bang, Molly. (1999) When Sophie Gets Angry ö Really, Really, Angry· Scholastic, Inc: New York.

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