Growing Independence and Fluency Design: Express Yourself!
Amy Strickland

Rationale: While reading an experienced reader reads with expression and enthusiasm.  This quality is not a natural one that all readers are born with.  This quality must be taught and practiced just like any subject or concept taught in the classroom.  In this lesson these second graders will be taught about expressive reading, why we do it, and how it is done.

Materials: Chalkboard, chalk, Oh the Place You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss, sentences made up by the teacher (for the activity on the board), chart with teacher made up sentences on it (with and without end punctuation marks), What Will the Seal Eat? By Sheila Cushman, sheet with every child's name on it along with notes for assessment.


1. The teacher will explain to the children exactly what expressive reading is.  In order to read with expression your voice must get louder and softer, and go up and down depending on what's going on in the story.  If the story gets suspenseful then your voice might get very loud like this or if it is a happy story your voice might get soft and calm like this.  The teacher will also explain why we use expression when we read.  If I were to never use expression when I read stories to you, they would get pretty boring wouldn't they?  So we use expression when we read to make it more interesting and fun.
2. Now I am going to read Oh the Places You'll Go! By Dr. Seuss.  If I am using good expression then I want you to hold up a thumbs up sign, and if I'm not then hold up a thumbs down sign, OK.  The teacher will proceed by reading a few of the pages with expression and some without good expression, watching what the children do.
3. Now I am going to write some sentences up here on the board and I want someone to volunteer to read it without good expression and then once more with good expression.  OK Sally, what about this, "I love pizza."  The children will one at a time volunteer to read a sentence, first without expression and with it.
4. The teacher will now review the use of exclamation points, periods, and question marks at the end of sentences.  She will be sure to ask the children questions about how the speakers/readers expression changes depending on which end punctuation mark is used.  This will be a class discussion with a few examples of the differences between the three, both given by the teacher and the class.
5. OK class, let's all look over at this chart over here where I have some sentences written down.  As you can see the first ones have punctuation marks at the end of them, but the last ones don't.  Who would like to come up and read this first sentence with lots of expression, according to which end mark is there?  "You love to swim in the pool."  Great!  Now who can come up and read this next one?  It is the same sentence but it has a different end punctuation mark doesn't it?  "You love to swim in the pool!"  Good job!  And so on.  Then when the students get down to the sentences without end punctuation marks they will come up one at a time to read the sentence and add the end mark of their choice.
6. Next the teacher will put the class into pairs and give each pair a copy of What Will the Seal Eat? By Sheila Cushman.  Each child will have multiple chances to read the book to their partner, first without any expression at all and then with lots of expression.  They will take turns reading to each other.
7. For assessment, the teacher will walk around the room watching and taking notes on each child, noticing whether they are reading with expression or not.  She will be sure not to leave any child's observation space blank.  She will also step in and offer assistance if needed.

Sample Checklist:
1. Does the student change his voice from high to low and vice versa?
2. Does the student change his voice from louder to softer and vice versa?
3. Does the child change the inflection of his voice corresponding with the end punctuation mark?
4. Is there a distinct difference between the child's reading without expression and the child's reading with expression?


Cushman, Sheila. What Will the Seal Eat? Educational Insights. Carson, CA. (1990).

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