Jump on the Expression Express

By: Glenna Neilson

Rationale: The goal of reading is comprehension. In order for a reader to read for comprehension they must be fluent. A key indicator of a fluent reader is the ability to read with expression. Students should be able to read expressively aloud and silently. This lesson will help children see, hear, and practice enthusiastic reading, recognize punctuation, and continue to improve their reading through reading and evaluating their progress with a partner.


-         Carlstroom, Nancy White. It's About Time Jessie Bear. Macmillan Publishing Co. New York, 1990.

-         Poster board with theses sentences: "I can't believe my mom raised my allowance!" "I had to go to the doctor today and get a shot." "It's raining outside, and now we can't go to the zoo." "Fall is my favorite time of year!" "Do we have to do that?" "Leave me alone!" "What would you like to do?" "Can we please go now?"

-         Bang, Sophie. When Sophie Gets Angry... Really, Really Angry...  2004.

-         Dry Erase Board/ Chalkboard to write on.

-         Peer Evaluation Sheet:


   Partner's Name:_______________________

            1. Does your partner read smoothly?

            2. Does your partner use different tones of voice?

3. Does your partner read more fast or slowly when it's necessary?

            4. Does your partner show facial expression?


  1. We have been talking about how we are supposed to read smooth and fluently instead of reading one word at a time. This way what we are reading is easier to understand and enjoy by the listener. Today we are going to talk about something else that can help our reading aloud, and make what we are reading even more enjoyable to the listener.
  2. Start out explaining to the students the importance of reading with expression. "Today we are going to learn how to read something with expression. Have you ever heard a story that sounded really boring the first time someone read it to you, but the second time you liked it a lot more? That might have been because someone read the story with expression. We want to always try and read our stories with expression, to make the audience that we are reading to more interested in the story."
  3. Refer to the poster board with the sentences on it. "Now let's try and read some sentences with expression. I will give you two examples, and I want you to say the sentence back to me the way you thought it would sound the best." Read the first sentence with and without expression: "I can't believe my mom raised my allowance!" Now have the students read it back to you. Now read the next sentence and let the children tell you which the best way to read it is. Now, let the students read the remaining sentences to you with expression.
  4. How did we know when to read those sentences with expression? (Mostly with what the sentence said and the punctuation mark at the end of the sentence.) That's right! If a sentence ends in a question mark, we would say it differently than if it ended in a period, right? For example (writing on the board) if I asked, "What did you eat for breakfast today?" I would say that differently than if it ended in a period like "I ate toast for breakfast today." Or if the same sentence, "I ate toast for breakfast today." ended in an exclamation point, I would say it differently. I would then say "I ate toast for breakfast today!" Do you think the person who said the sentence that ended with a period or with an exclamation point was excited about having toast for breakfast? How can you tell?" Then I would ask, "Can any of you think of how punctuation changes the way you read or say things?" I would wait for student examples. If none are provided, I would give a few more examples and then discuss them.
  5. Now read: When Sophie Gets Angry... Really, Really Angry... and let the students give you thumbs up or thumbs down if you're reading with or without expression.
  6. "Now, we are going to read a book called It's about Time Jessie Bear. In this book a little bear named Jessie starts out the day by pouncing on his parents and pretending to be Super Bear, and he wakes them up. Then he tries to dress himself and only wears shorts and a cape. We are going to read this book to see if Jessie's parents get mad at him for being so mischievous, and we will find out what else he does today. I want you to read your books with your partner, and I am going to give you a peer evaluation sheet to fill out as you and your partner alternate reading the pages of the book with as much expression as you can."
  7. Now I will hand out the copies of the books and the peer evaluation sheets, and as the students are reading to each other I will walk around the room to be sure that the students are reading with expression.
  8. I will use the peer evaluation sheets as an assessment to see how the students did in reading with expression. I will also have made notes on children who could use more work on reading with expression as I walked around the classroom.


-         Carlstroom, Nancy White. It's About Time Jessie Bear. Macmillan Publishing Co. New York, 1990.

-         Bang, Sophie. When Sophie Gets Angry... Really, Really Angry...  2004.

-         Berger, Amy. "We're Messin' with Expression." http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/bergergf.html

-         Saye, Maggie. "Express Yourself." http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/sayegf.html

-         Cummings, Amanda. "Is that EXPRESSION I Hear?" http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/cummingsgf.html

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