FABULOUS Readers Focus on Fluency!

Growing Independence and Fluency

By: Lauren Leach

Rationale: Skillful readers know that fluency in reading is important. Reading with expression is a part of fluency. When a reader uses expression, the story will be more meaningful and exciting. This lesson is designed to enable children to hear and practice reading with expression. Through this lesson, children will recognize punctuation and its effects on how the sentence should be read. They will also continue to improve their oral reading and comprehension skills. They will hear what good expression in reading sounds like, and what reading without expression sounds like. They will be able to practice reading with fluency and expression with whisper phones and with partners. We will be reading Bedhead as well as various sentences to practice reading with expression.


  -White board & marker

  -Paper & pencils*

  -Mini dry erase boards and markers*

  -Sentence strips with the following sentences:

            Ouch! That hurt!

            Follow the line leader.

            What time is it?
            What a beautiful day!

   -Whisper phones (Small pieces of PVC pipe –either round or rectangular angles with wholes on either end)

   -Checklist for Reading Fluency

  -Bedhead by Margie Palatini

*=Indicates # of supplies needed for every student.

Procedure:  1. HI Boys and girls! Don’t I sound happy to teach you today? (Expect positive feedback) I surely do because I am speaking to you with expression. Write the following punctuation marks on the board:  .   ,   !   ?   " " These marks give the reader signals on how the sentence should be read. A period at the end of a sentence means: (1) that the sentence is probably a statement and (2) you need to briefly pause after the period. (Model by saying: I am going to teach today.)  If I want to make a sentence sound different or more intense, I could add an exclamation point.  (Model by saying: I am going to TEACH today!) Did you hear how my voice changed? If I want to ask a question, I will need a question mark at the end of the sentence. (Model by saying: Are you going to practice today?) Did you hear how my voice changed again? All of these punctuations go at the end of the sentence. There are some punctuations that are found in the middle. A comma means there is a brief break in the sentence.  (Model by writing and saying: I am going to buy grapes, broccoli, bread, and cheese.) Did you hear how I paused a little after the commas in that sentence? Good! Quotation marks usually mean that someone is talking. We need to make it sound a little different than the rest of the text.  (Model by writing and saying: Miriam said, "Go to the shop and buy a spool of thread.") When we talk, we naturally use expression. When we read, we need to use that same expression. It makes the story more interesting!

2.  Read a few pages of Bedhead with no expression. How many of you like this story so far? Would you want me to read the entire story to you this way? (students respond). You’re right. It is very dull and boring. Now, I will reread the beginning of the story now, with expression.  Read the same part, but with expression. Which one did you like better? Students respond. Now, give a book talk: Bedhead is about a boy who wakes up one morning with horrible bed head hair and the worst part is the fact that it is 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. Now, read the whole story. Ask the students to be critics. When they hear a lot of expression being used, ask them to give a thumbs-up. When the story sounds dull because there is no expression, ask them to give a thumbs-down. Read some pages with expression and some without. Check on students’ responses after each page. Remind students that soft reading does not always mean that it has no expression.

3.  Now that you know what reading with expression means, I want you to read for me. I am going to show you some sentences. First, I want you to whisper read them into your whisper phones. Then, I want you to read them to me as group.  Pass out whisper phones and show sentences strips one at a time:

Ouch! That hurt!

            Follow the line leader.

            What time is it?

            What a beautiful day!

Have students whisper read individually. Then, read the sentences as a group.

 4.  I heard some great expression! Now, I am going to read you some sentences and I want you to write them down using the correct punctuation marks throughout the sentence. Let’s try one together.  Model sentence and write on the board: Will you buy a dress? Since that sentence asks a question, we will need to put a question mark at the end. Now it is your turn. Say the following sentences: It is a HOT day! What time is it? Ms. Leach loves all of you.  I will assess student understanding by checking individual work. Next, students will reread Bedhead individually. Then, they will reread it a second and third time to a partner. Students will critique each other given a check list. (see below)

Checklist for Partner Reading
                                                                         I noticed that my partner....

After 2nd
After 3rd

Remembered more words

Read faster

Read smoother

Read with expression


Palatini, Margie. Bedhead. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2000.

    32 pages

Smith, Melanie "Is that expression in your voice or are you just happy to see me?"


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