Gaining Fluency

Morgan Spires

Rationale:  Good readers read with expression because it makes the text smoother and more effective.  This lesson shows students the emphasis of reading with expression and teaches them how to read correctly with expression.  Through practice and performance, students will learn to read more fluently by reading with expression.

Materials:
-For each student:  Dirk Bones and the Mystery of the Haunted House by Doug Cushman (New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, c2006)
-copy paper and colors, markers, pencils, etc.
-checklist with the following questions:  Did all group members participate?  Did each group member read with expression?  Does each student read that sentence well?  Did all students participate in the final book read?
-transparencies reading:  [There was thunder and lightning.  Suddenly the door flew open, and a shadow moved slowly forward as if it were hunting something.  And then…ah!] and [The wind blew and blew.  The flame from the candle blew out.  I could hear the wolf start to howl.  I knew that the time was near.  He would be here soon.]

Procedures:
1.  Introduce the importance of expression:  How many of you have seen the “Clear Eyes, Wow” commercial on TV where the man sounds so boring?  Who likes to hear someone taaaallllkkk llllikkkkke  ttttthhhaaaatttt? How many people get excited about something that sounds so boring?  (no one)  Exactly, we need to get excited!

2.  Explain what expression is:  I am going to read a passage two times through, and I want you to listen to how I make it more exciting:  (without expression) “There was thunder and lightning.  Suddenly the door flew open, and a shadow moved slowly forward as if it were hunting something.  And then…ah!  Now listen as I read with expression.  There was THUNDER and LIGHTNING!  Suddenly, the door FLEW open and a shadow moved SLOWWWWWLY forward as if it were HUNTING something.  And thennnnnn….AAAAHHHHH!”  Can you hear the difference as I read?  The second time I read, I used expression:  I expressed what was going on in the story with my voice.  When a story is scary, you should sound spooky reading it.  When you’re reading something serious, you should be serious, and when you read something funny you should be funny.  When we read we need to emphasize and exaggerate words to make the story smooth and exciting.  Expression allows the reader to feel the intensity of the story, and it gets the reader all excited-like watching a movie.

3.  Now let’s read this passage together, first without expression:  The wind blew and blew.  The flame from the candle blew out.  I could hear the wolf start to howl.  I knew that the time was near.  He would be here soon.  Now listen as I read it with expression. (repeat passage)  Which was more exciting?  Let’s reread it and add more expression all together!  (repeat)

4.  Now I would like each of you to get into your groups of 4 and we are going to make this story even more exciting:  Dirk Bones and the Mystery of the Haunted House is about a family of ghosts who are in for a fright!  Dirk Bones is a reporter who is out to investigate who is haunting the ghosts.  What will he find?  Now we will read to find out.  On the first page I want you to read the first sentence out loud with no expression within your groups.  Then repeat it with expression.  If it still sounds boring or could be better, then we must need more expression!  When you finish with the first sentence, move on to the next, then keep going until we finish the book.  Let’s get reading and rereading!  Let’s get excited!

5.  Assessment:  Teacher will monitor student progress within the groups and pick a sentence that each group reads with expression well using the first three questions of the checklist.  After each group has completed the book, the teacher will read the book aloud.  Each group will read its designated sentence as the teacher approaches them while reading the book a final time with expression.  The teacher will complete the final question of the checklist after the final read.  Now I am going to read the book out loud.  Follow along as I read, and when I come to your group’s sentence, you will read it together, out loud, with expression.  I will be listening to your expression, so practice reading your sentence with expression, together with your group members, two more times.  (let students repeat their sentences twice within their groups)  Now let’s begin.

6.  Extra Activity:  On a sheet of copy paper, students can pick an expressive passage from the book and illustrate it, writing the passage that they are illustrating at the top.  For display the students can hang their picture, but only after they read their chosen passage with expression!

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