Hop on the Expression Express
by Jana Bell

Rationale:  Students need to learn how to read with expression. Without expression, students cannot fully comprehend what is going on in the story, and they do not understand how characters are feeling. If students learn to read with expression, they will get into the story, which will lead to the interest in reading.  The more students are interested in books, the more they will read, and the more they read the more fluent and independent they will get. In this lesson, the students will listen to parts in a text read with and without expression. They will also read with expression themselves. They will see how it makes a difference in the story.

Materials:  Teacher will need an overhead projector, and a copy of “Here Comes the Train” by Charlotte Voake  (Publisher: Candlewick, Date Published: 1998-09-02), any play from the reader’s theatre website listed below in references, play money, and play tickets that read “The Expression Express,” and sentence strips. Students will need markers.

Procedures:  Step One:  Have you ever heard a story that was really boring? I have! That’s because it probably wasn’t read with expression. Who knows what expression is? When we read with expression it makes the book way better, and much more interesting. We get to know how the characters are feeling in the story. Today we are going to hop aboard the Expression Express!

Step Two: I am going to read you a story. It is called “Here comes the Train by Charlotte Voake. I am going to read it two different ways; I want you to listen carefully as I read. (I will now put it on the projector, and read it without expression, really boring-like, and then read it with expression, exciting-like) We will only read a few pages.  Which one sounded better? Why? Because it was read with expression, you were able to really get into the story, and understand  how the characters were feeling. Can someone tell me how I  read with expression?  I changed my voice to  fit the scene in the story. This helped me to read it  easier becuase I knew what  was going on  in the story, and it helped me to understand it better.

Step Three:  We are going to play a game now. I have here some sentence strips with some sentences on them. (Teacher will have several different types of sentences, with and without expression.) I am going to divide you into groups of 3. I am going to give each group 3 sentences. Notice how each sentence doesn’t have periods, exclamation points, or question marks. Who can tell me what these are for? I would have someone describe each one as a review before we start. This is your job. This will earn you money to get tickets aboard the expression express. Your team will decide which sentences need a period, which needs a question mark, and which needs an exclamation point. You will add it in with your markers. I will give you a few minutes to do this. When time is up, I will have each member of your team, come up and read your sentence how is supposed to be read, according to your ending marks. The class will decide whether your team gets money for your ticket or not.

Step Four: Great job! You’ve all earned money! Now we are going to read the rest of the book I started earlier. Let’s see if we can read it with as much expression as possible. This will get us to the train station to get our tickets! We will now read together, the rest of the story. If it is a large class, I would split them up into halves, and have half the class read one page, and the other half read the next.

Step Five: Didn’t that sound great! That made the story much more interesting. Now I have chosen a play from the reader’s theater. I am going to assign each of you parts. You will read the story out as if you were in a play. So you have to read with expression! This will earn you a first class ticket aboard the expression express. (Each student will get a copy to read) This will be my assessment to see that each student reads with expression when their part comes. If there aren’t enough parts to go around, I will pick 2 plays. This is a good idea if you have a large class, possibly 3. Today we are going to read the story about chicken little!  He was this  little chicken  that lived in the woods,  and  one day , he was  walking around and something  fell from the sky and hit  him on the head!  Chicken little thought the sky was  falling! DO you think it was really the sky falling?  What do you think it was?  We will have to read and find out! We would now  read the play of chicken little  listed on the site below.



This is great for finding books about trains, there are several on this page.


This is a great sight to get the plays, they are great.


This is a lesson where I Got ideas, It is called "We arent reading robots!" by Emily Mills. It came from the Auburn University Reading Genie Website.