Act It Out With Your Voice!

 kid with curious expression

By Bridget Clabby

Growing Independence and Fluency
(Reading smoothly and expressively)

 Rationale: Fluent reading is reading in which words are recognized automatically. With automatic word recognition, reading becomes faster, smoother, and more expressive. When students can read fluently, they can focus more of their thoughts on comprehension rather than decoding each word. During this lesson, students will model fluent reading, learn what different punctuation marks do for expressions, and learn strategies that will help them focus attention on punctuation in the story (for expressive reading).


-Punctuation mark cards (one set for the teacher, and enough sets for each pair of students).

-Expressive words cards (one set for the teacher, and enough sets for each pair of students).

-Peer evaluation worksheets (one per student).

-"Good Boy, Fergus!" by David Shannon (one for each pair of students; half the class)

-"Tippy-Toe Chick, Go!" by George Shannon (one for each pair of students; half the class)

-"Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day" by Jamie Lee Curtis (to read aloud to class)

-Expression worksheets (one per student)


1. Have the students come down to the floor around me.

2. "I am going to say the same sentence, but in two different ways. I want you all to tell me which one lets you know how I am feeling."

3. Say: "I am so excited to meet all of you" First without expression, then with a lot of expression (!).

-Which way that I said that told you how I was feeling?
-Why did this tell you how I was feeling better than the other way?
-How do you think I am feeling?
-Does anyone know what goes on the end of a sentence that makes the sentence tell you how someone is feeling?

4. Explain why: "I used something we call expression in my second sentence, and that is what allowed you all to figure out how I am feeling. Expression is very important when you are speaking because it lets people know how you are feeling. But it is also very important when you are reading. We are going to learn how to use expression when we read and write to help us feel what we read out loud." Listen to the expression in this book as I read‰¥Ï

5. Read "Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day" by Jamie Lee Curtis aloud to the class.

6. Review/Teach background knowledge: Have one card for each punctuation mark that changes expression, or with words that change expression, written on each card. Go over what each punctuation mark does to a sentence, how it makes you say the sentence, etc. Also, go over different words that change the way you express sentences.

7. Explain how/Model: Write sentences on the board (below) and have students tell what punctuation mark or word best expresses how the character would be saying that sentence in a story. Use some sample dialogue first with the class, so they understand what we are doing; for example, start with "If the character in a story is creeping into his brother's room while he is sleeping, and he wants to wake him up loudly, he would not just say 'wake up.' He would say, "Wake up!" using an exclamation mark." Let's see if you all can figure out what punctuation these sentences need.

1) "Shhh, we have to be quiet," __________ Leslie, as she tiptoed through the house. (Answer: whispered)

2) "Ahhhh, it's a bug__" yelled John. (Answer: !)

3) "How are you__" asked Shannon. (Answer: ?)

8. Simple practice (ASSESSMENT used by the teacher): Allow the students to sit around the room, on the floor or at their desks, in pairs/partners. Give each pair of students the expression worksheet (attached) in which they will be reading aloud to each other. They can take turns, or each go through the whole worksheet. They should be reading the sentences with expression. This is practice for the students so they can get a feel for looking for the punctuation at the end of the sentence, before they actually read the sentence. This is simple practice for "looking ahead." Teacher can go around the room and supervise the activity, making sure that each student seems to understand how read with expression. So that each student is doing something- while the worksheet is being read by one, the listener will hold up the card with the punctuation on it that matches what their partner seemed to use when saying that sentence/phrase.

9. Whole text: Students will read their book to their partner, while he/she listens for expression. Then they will switch roles.

    -Half of the class reads "Good Boy, Fergus" by David Shannon and the other half will read, "Tippy-Toe Chick, Go!" by George Shannon.

    -The two different books are in case of the possibility that it is too difficult to get numerous copies of the same book, or if there are different reading levels in your class; you can decide which pair of students reads which book.

10. Assessment by the students (of each other): Students will go back to their seats. They will fill out a peer evaluation sheet answering a few questions about their partner, themselves, and the book.
    -Who was your partner?

    -Did your partner read with expression?

    -Give your partner a compliment about how they read with expression.

    -What was your favorite part of the story?

11. Students can make up their own sentences using the punctuation and/or the words they learned today for expression in their sentences if they have extra time.


"Go Ahead- Say What You Feel!" by Jessica Evans

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*Sample of the worksheet for reading with expression:

Name: __________________  Date: _________________
Partner's Name: _________________________________

 Read With Expression!


 1. "Wow! Look at that bird fly!"
2. "I went to the market today."
3. "How are you doing today, mom?"
4. "What is going on here?"
5. "Why did you do that?"
6. "Happy Birthday!"
7. "I am going to go to Disneyland. I am so excited! Have you ever been to Disneyland?"
8. "I wish I could go to school today, but I am sick. My class is painting today. Do you like to paint?

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