We’re Messin’ with Expression

Growing Independence and Fluency
Amy Berger

Rationale:  Fluency is a vital component of skillful readers and reading with expression is a component of fluency.  Reading with expression makes comprehension easier and makes stories more exciting/inviting.  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.


                        2. Does your partner/the student vary their tone of voice?

                        3. Does your partner/the student change the tempo in the reading when necessary?

                        4. Does your partner/the student show emotion with facial movement?


  1. Explain what it means to read with expression and why it is important.  “Today, we are going to learn how to read with expression!  Has anybody ever listened to one person read a story and they really liked it and then you heard another person read it and you didn’t like it as much?  Maybe it was because one person did not read with expression and it made the story very boring.  Expression is the way your voice naturally moves up and down when you talk.  We should always read with expression, so that the story comes alive, just like you speak with expression.  When we read, we should be reading with expression to make the story more interesting for the audience. 
  2. I will explain to the students that as great readers we want to entertain our audience and we want to enjoy it too.  To get your audience interested, you should read with expression and make the story come alive.  One way to do this is by using the voice a character would us when speaking.  Let’s practice, repeat the sentence after me with expression.  “Today is my birthday!”  Allow time for students to say the sentence with joy.  “It is a dark, rainy day.”  Allow time for students to sadly repeat the sentence.
  3. “Now we are going to look at some sentences.  I am going to read them once with expression.  (Read the sentences:  After school my mom took us all to the dentist and Dr. Fields found a cavity on my tooth.  Come back next week and I’ll fix it, said Dr. Fields.  Next week, I said, I’m going to Australia!) How did that sound to you?  It was very boring to read! Was it boring to listen to?  Now I will read the same sentence again with expression (Read again, but this time with lots of expression).  One secret to reading with expression is making the pitch of your voice change from high to low, depending on your emotion.  “How did the second time sound different? 
  4. I will model emotions by reading Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… by Sophie Bang.  I will use many forms of expression to display the correct way to read with expression to the students.  “Now I’m going to read Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry…  When I complete one page I want you to give me thumbs up or thumbs down if you think I used correct expression while reading. Read one page and go over their response as a class.  Then read 3 or 4 more pages, reading some with expression and some without. 
  5. The class will now engage in an activity.  I will hand out the cutout mask to each student. I will read the sentences listed above and when I read the sentence want you to put up the “emotion mask” that matches with the sentence. 
  6. “Now I am going to read a book called Bedhead.  Bedhead  is about a boy who wakes up one morning with horrible bedhead hair and worst of all is that it’s picture day at school.  Will his family figure out a way to fix his hair before school?  We’ll have to read to figure it out.”  I will read the book to the students and model to them how it should be read with expression.  And then let them know that they will be reading this book to their partner.
  7. Now, I will put students into pairs and give them a copy of the book and the peer evaluation sheet.  While one student is reading, the other student will fill out the sheet on their partner’s expression while reading.  I will go over the partners’ evaluation sheet and discuss each question, so that students understand the evaluation. 
  8. Assessment:  I will use the partner evaluation.  I will walk around and observe the students as they take turns reading.  I will complete the form of how well students read with expression. 

Peer Evaluation Sheet


Partner’s Name:_______________________

            1. Does your partner/ the student read smoothly?

            2. Does your partner/the student vary their tone of voice?

            3. Does your partner/the student change the tempo in the reading when necessary?

            4. Does your partner/the student show emotion with facial movement


Bang, Sophie. When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry…  2004. 40 pages

Crump, Amy. If You’re Happy and You Know It… Show us with Expression! http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/persp/crumpgf.html

Hall, Mallory. American Expression http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/catalysts/hallgf.html

Palatini, Margie.  Bedhead.  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. 2000. 32 pages

Smith, Melanie. Is That Expression in Your Voice, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/persp/smithmgf.html

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