Excellent Expression

Growing Independence and Fluency
Sarah Byrd

Fluent, experienced readers read with expression and enthusiasm.  Reading aloud to students helps them to realize how much more exciting and inviting stories can be when read with expression. The following activities help students to see, hear, and practice enthusiastic reading through hearing enthusiastic and unenthusiastic reading and practicing reading with expression.



Teacher copy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and one copy per pair of students.
3 Sentence strips that make up a paragraph (Today was a terrible day!, My mom forgot my lunch, and I wish I had stayed in bed.)
Assessment sheets for each student with sentences: Ouch, that hurts!  Do you like to eat strawberries? I am nine years old., and checklist Reads with expression, using the correct tone, moves at the correct pace.


1.Explain to students what it means to read with expression.  “Has anyone ever read you an interesting story, but they read it in a way that made you really bored? This is what happens when you read without expression.  Expression is the way your voice naturally moves up and down when you talk.  You should read with expression so that the story is more exciting, just like you speak with expression.”

2.“Let’s read some sentences.  I’m going to read them first without expression. (Read the sentences: Today was a terrible day!  My mom forgot my lunch.  I wish I had stayed in bed.)  How did that sound?  Would you want me to read an entire book that way?  (wait for student response)  That’s right.  It was very boring.  Now I’m going to read the same sentences with expression. (Read sentences again with expression)  Which way do you like better? (wait for student response)  Right!  The second way was more interesting and sounded more natural.  When I read it sounded more like when we talk.  The volume and pitch of my voice went up and down."

3.Now I’m going to read a book called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  It’s about a boy named Alexander who is having a bad day.  Nothing seems to go right for him.  Listen carefully because at the end of every page, I want you to give me a thumbs up if you think I read with expression, or a yawning face (model) if you think I read without expression.”  Reiterate to the students that reading softly does not mean you are reading without expression.  Read 4 or 5 pages, some with expression and some without, and have students respond at the end of each page.

4.“Now I’m going to stop, and with a partner, I want you to take turns reading the rest of the story to each other.  Practice reading with expression as you read. Your partner will evaluate how well you did when you are finished.  Tell your partner one thing they did well on, and one thing they need to work on.



Call the students to your desk one at a time and have them read the sentences off of the assessment sheet. (Ouch, that hurts!  Do you like to eat strawberries? I am nine years old).  Grade them on a scale of one to 3.  3 points means that they read with expression, used the correct tone, and read at the correct pace.  2 points means they only did two of the three items, and 1 means they did one of the three items.



Gray, Erin. Express Yourself http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/constr/graygf.html

Viorst, Judith.  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.  Aladdin Paperbacks, 1972.

Click here to return to Inventions