It’s Just an Expression


Tori Hollifield

Rationale: Reading with expression is what makes reading so enjoyable to fluent readers. When students become more fluent, it is important for them to learn to read with expression both silently and aloud. The goal of this lesson design is to provide students with practice reading expressively.

Materials: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, lots of books to be read with expression and on reading level, prepared sentences for teacher on sentence strips, iPads for every two students, pencil, and paper.


1.Explain to the class that reading is more enjoyable if it is done expressively. Can anyone tell me what expression is? It is the way a person’s voice changes depending on their mood or the situation. What kind of expression would someone have if they got a surprise? Excited. What about if they were being chased by a bear? Scared. Can someone tell me another type of expression? 

2.The way people change their voice lets you know the expression they are using. The reader might speed up or slow down, raise or lower their voice, or use exclamations. I am going to read some sentences on sentence strips and I want you to tell me what emotion you hear while I am reading. Go to your room right now and think about what you have done! How could you tell which expression? I love my new birthday presents! How could you tell which expression? Guys, be quiet, I think I just heard something in the woods. How could you tell which expression?

3.Now I will read aloud to the class the first five pages of The Lorax. I will first read the book using no expression. After that I will read it again using expression. Which version did you find more enjoyable to listen to? I enjoyed the version with expression best.

4.The class will be put in pairs of two. Each pair will choose a book to read and read it to the other twice, first using expression, second without. They will make notes on ways to make the story more interesting when they read it, using their expression. The students will record themselves on the iPad.

5.Once they have completed the recording of both students reading with expression and without expression I want them to listen to the stories they have recorded. I want them to decide which sounded better. The students will come back as a pair and we will write on the board what expressions they chose to use in their story. 

6.For assessment I will listen to the student’s recordings. I will check for changes in expression. 


1.Dr. Seuss. (1971). The Lorax. New York: Random House.

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