Let’s Read with Expression!

Kincey Hicks
Growing Independence and Fluency 

Rationale: It’s wonderful when a child learns to read words and you see improvements in decoding skills.  This is not, however the end of the journey in becoming a skilled reader.  If we want to see children read at an expert level we must teach them to read fluently as well as independently.  Fluency requires the ability to read smoothly, silently, and expressively.  This lesson will help in directing you to give children the tools they will need to read with as much expression as possible. 

Primary writing paper
Poster board showing different expressive sentences:  ex. Let's go to the park! Do you want pizza or soup? 
Teacher's copy of Spiders in the Fruit Cellar by Barbara M. Joosse
Assortment of level appropriate, decodable books for the students to choose from to read with expression
Teacher checklist for assesment

1. We all love to read books.  They have wonderful stories that help us use our imagination! Today we are going to learn how to read with expression. Does anyone know what that means? Reading with expression means that we read stories so that we show feelings, such as sad, happy, excited, mad, and scared. When we read with expression, we make what we are reading more exciting and interesting to hear, if we are reading to ourselves or to someone else.

2. Listen to me as I say this sentence, with no expression. (Read sentence with no expression) It wasn‘t very interesting because I didn‘t use any feeling when I read it. Now listen as I say this sentence with expression. (Read with much expression) Did you hear the difference? It was more interesting and made the sentence easier to listen to because I used different soudns in my voice to make it interesting. I would like for you to practice talking with no expression and then talking with much expression. (Assign partners and give the students a few minutes to talk expressively and unexpressively to one another) That was great!  I heard lots of expression while you were talking.

3. I want everyone to look up at this poster that has some sentences on it. Each sentence is followed by some type of symbol. These symbols are called punctuation.  Punctuation is what helps us know what expression the writer wanted us to use to make the story sound its best.  A period [show what a period is] at the end of a sentence usually means that a statement is being made. These sentences may be read with less expression than other sentences, but you can still change the volume and pitch of your voice to make the sentence sound more interesting. (Show sentence - The dog ran and jumped at the park.) Now, let's try reading a sentence with an exclamation point [show an exclamation mark and explain its purpose] at the end. Remember that an exclamation point will make us sound excited. (Wow! This place is great!) Did you notice how I read that sentence with lots of excitement?   

4. That was great practice and I am so glad to hear all of you using so much expression.  Now I am going to read you a book using a lot of expression. (Read Spiders in the Fruit Cellar to the students) What are some different kinds of expressions I used when I read this book to you? (allow student to respond and go back to examples they point out in the book for extra review and feedback - this can be part of an assessment)

5. Now that you have practiced expressive reading and understand what that means, we are going to do a fun activity. I would like each of you to write a short story using sentences with expression. (Go over all punctuation with the students so they will remember all the types of expression they can use) You will each have ten minutes to write. You can make them silly, scary, happy, or sad; whatever you want them to be. These are YOUR expressive stories. (After ten minutes has passed, have the students get a partner and read their story to one another. After all of the stories have been read, the teacher may select a few students to read their story to the class using expression).  

6. Now let’s all get a book from the selection I brought and read silently with expression for practice.  Students will select a book from the assortment that was selected by the teacher. (Make sure that each book that the children are selecting from has a good amount of expression to be read) Students may find a spot around the room to practice reading their expressive book.

Assessment: As the students are practicing reading their books, the teacher will go to each student and ask them to read a few pages or paragraphs aloud, depending on the student.  The teacher will have a checklist to make sure that students are using as much expression as possible. This will help the teacher to know who grasps the concept and who does not. If the student is having difficulty the teacher can help him/her and then return to him/her at another time to see if there is improvement.
Example check sheet: http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/fluency.html  


Spiders in the Fruit Cellar by Barbara M. Joosse