Give Me Some Expression!

Growing Independence and Fluency

Ashley Wood

: In order for a student to become a skilled reader, they must become independent and fluent. Most beginning readers simply read word by word and do not connect the text. “Fluent reading is reading in which words are recognized automatically.  With automatic word recognition, reading becomes faster, smoother, and more expressive, and students can begin to read silently, which is roughly twice as fast as oral reading.” (Murray) In this lesson we will be using the fluency formula to reach our goal, which is read and reread decodable words in connected text. We will first read Fuzz and the Buzz using decoding of learned correspondences, reread the book to master the text, and engage the students in the book by using the connected text and story line in Fuzz and the Buzz.


Cover up critters (made in a previous lesson out of a clothespin and various other art
Pencil for each student
Sentence strips ‘Heads up, the baseball is headed our way!’, ‘The icky sticky slime is
    all over my hands!’, ‘I do not want to go to bed like mom and dad said.’

Fuzz and the Buzz for each student
Expression Checklist for each student and for the teacher (included at the end of the
     Expression Checklist
Readers name:_______________
    Partners name:_______________

A little
A lot
Changes Volume

Changes Speed

Changes Tone

What did the reader do well on?

What does the reader need to work on?


1. “Today we are going to work on reading a little bit differently than normal. Our goal for the day is for us to begin to read more like we talk. We can do this by reading with expression. When we read with expression it almost makes it feel like we are part of the story. We do this by changing the volume, speed, and tone of voice when we read to fit the story.”

2. “Before we begin working on expression today let’s review what we have learned to do when we get to a word we do not know. Remember we can use our cover up critter that we made to help us sound out a word, or we can use cross checking and reread the sentence to make sure that the word makes sense. (A cover up critter can simply be made out of a clothespin to look like a critter of any kind. This could even be used as a many art project to include the students.) Anytime you get to a word that you do not know in a story, you can use either of these to help you figure it out.”

3. “Now that we have reviewed what to do when we get to a word that we do not know, let’s learn how to read with expression!! I told you earlier that to read with expression you change the volume, speed, and tone of voice to best fit the story.” Discuss the meanings of each of these and give examples that we might use in a story.

4. Hold the sentence strip up for the students to see. “I am going to show examples of reading without expression and then I am going to show you how to change that and read with expression.” Read the sentence ‘Heads up, the baseball is headed our way!’ in a monotone voice. “What could I do to this sentence to make it more meaningful?” Take students suggestions and reread the sentence using expression. “Now I you are going to work with your partner next to you to read a sentence with expression.” Put sentence strips of the board with ‘The icky sticky slime is all over my hands’ and ‘I do not want to go to bed like mom and dad said’ Read over the sentences in a monotone voice to ensure that all students are able to read the sentences. “I want you each to choose one sentence and read it to your partner with expression.”

5. “Now that we know how to read with expression we are going to read Fuzz and the Buzz. This book is about a cub named Fuzz. Fuzz is playing outside one day near a tree. Some bugs buzz at Fuzz around his head. Have you ever been playing outside when bugs buzz around you? Hopefully they will not sting him and he will get home safely! Let’s read the book and see if Fuzz is able to make it home. You are going to read with the same partner that you just worked with. First, I want you to read the book by yourself. Then I want you to think about how you could change your expression to make the book more interesting. Then you are going to read it to your partner and they are going to complete this checklist for you. You will do the same thing for your partner. When you have both read and have completed the checklist, raise your hand and I will call you to come read to me. It would be good practice to go back over the book and think of ways that you could add expression while you are waiting to read to me.”

Assessment: Take up the checklist that the students have completed with their partner. The students will then read to you and as you call them and you will complete the same checklist that they did together. This will allow you to hear their reading with expression and give any extra help that may be needed.

Chauvin, Chandler. “Extra, Extra, Read All About It.”
Keith, Christi. “Express Yourself.”
Murray, Bruce.  "Developing Reading Fluency."  The Reading Genie.
(1990.) Phonics Readers Short Vowels. Fuzz and the Buzz. Carson, CA. Educational Insights.

Click here to return to Inventions.