Kristin Acuff

Growing Independence and Fluency Lesson Design

Oh, Alexander!

Rationale: In order for a child to progress to a good reader, he/she must be able to read independently and fluently.  This lesson focuses on reading fluency.  Fluency means reading faster, smoother, more expressively, or more quietly with the goal of reading silently (Murray).  Reading with expression not only makes a story more interesting to hear, but it also makes a story more interesting to read.  In this lesson students will buddy read to practice reading with expression and exaggeration.


Materials: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (a copy for each student and one for the teacher); cover up cards; writing journals & pencils; evaluation sheet (below--one for each student)


Evaluation Sheet (Amanda Starnes)

1. My partner's voice changed as he/she read.         YES or No
2. My partner acted like he/she was enjoying reading.        YES or No
3. The way that my partner read the book made me want to read it.         YES or NO
4. My partner sounded sad and happy in the same story.        YES or NO



  1. "Can anyone tell me what reading with expression means or give me an example of it?  Good!  Reading with expression means that you give the details of a story with the tone of your voice and your facial expressions and body movements."
  2. The teacher will read a passage from the book first with a monotone, apathetic voice, then with an enthusiastic, exciting voice.  "Which interpretation of the passage did you like best?  Why did you like the way I read it the second time better?"  The teacher will explain to the students that when a person changes the tone of their voice, it sparks interest in the listeners and it makes reading and listening more fun.
  3. "Boys and girls, today you are going to practice reading with expression and enthusiasm.  The book we are going to use today to help us practice reading with expression is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."  The teacher will do a book talk to introduce Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  "Have any of you ever had a really bad day, when nothing ever seems to go right?  Well this is a story about a boy named Alexander who is having just an awful day.  From the time he wakes up, his day has already started off bad, because he woke up with gum in his hair and tripped on a skateboard getting out of bed.  You all will have to read the story to find out if Alexander's day gets better."
  4. "When I pass out the books to you, I want you to get with your reading buddy and read the book quietly to each other.  As you are reading, think about different parts in the book that you would read with expression and write your thoughts down in your journals.  Also, we are going to practice using our cover up cards to help us identify unfamiliar words.  Remember that when you come to a word you don't know, cover it up.  Uncover the word letter by letter, sounding out the letters as you go.  At the end of the word, blend all the sounds together to say the word.  Read the entire book to each other, and raise your hands if you need any help with anything."
  5. "When you have both finished reading to each other, I want you to review your notes that you jotted down in your journals and reread the book to each other again, only this time, I want you to use expression when you are reading.  Sometimes you may need to sound angry, or upset, or happy, or excited.  Whatever the case, I want your partner to be able to hear those expressions in your voice as you read.  Listeners must pay close attention to the readers, because everyone must complete this evaluation check list."  The teacher will read over checklist to make sure students understand it.


Assessment: The teacher will call on each child individually to come to her desk and read a page out of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with expression.  She will use the evaluation sheet as a rubric for their progress.



Reading Genie website:

Starnes, Amanda. "Be Expressive."

Viorst, Judith. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Anthenum Books. 1972.

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