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Reading with expression

Discussion in 'Primary' started by nues, Oct 20, 2010.

  1. Just wondered whether EYFS & KS1 teachers put an emphasis on reading with expression? I'm KS2/3 trained and have children coming into Y3 who struggle with this-which I expect. My son is a summer born Y1 whose TA cannot comment on anything other than his slightly monotone reading voice, but what's more important to me is that he's able to read & understand Stage 6 of ORT, we are working on expression, but feel that it will come in time. Don't want to respond harshly to her as they know I'm a teacher. All thoughts kindly received...
  2. Reading with expression is a higher order skill - or one of those things which some tinies can do because they are emulating a mum or teacher whilst they pretend-read a story book!
    Nowadays, there is far more emphasis placed on accurate decoding rather than reading 'with fluency and expression' - the latter which took precedent during the days of guessing so many words from context.

    For many children fluency and expression will come with time - and for some children it never really comes at all because that's just the way they are!
    Perhaps one way of supporting such a skill is re-reading a familar book and opportunities to read aloud in non-intimidating situations.
  3. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    My daughters' school prioritises expression right from the start. In Nursery and Reception, when they are mostly reading from pic queues and memory, they are already encouraged/trained to read with expression. This is continually encouraged, as they move up the stages.
    My eldest reads far more expressively than any child that has ever come through my class in my school, and often criticises my own bedtime story reading as lacking in expression. [​IMG] Cheeky moo!
    I encourage my children to rehearse some parts of their book when reading for me. They will read a paragraph, then I will ask them to read it again and concentrate on the expression (and I'll model this for them too).
  4. At my school we all do guided reading. I use the same book for 2 sessions. The first one is to decode, read and discuss the book. The second in the following week is to read with more fluency, expression and taking note of punctuation, then answering comprehension questions. I do this right from the start of yr1 with all of my reading groups, from stage 1 up. It really helps the children to read a story twice.
  5. QFE

    QFE New commenter

    In the dim and distant past, for story time I would have a class set of the book to be read - often something quite challenging. I would do all the reading with appropriate expression, silly voices etc. and the class would follow, taking time to discuss the work in question.
    It was a fantasic way of showing that skill and indeed how to puctuate and use language well in written work as the children were freed from the effort of decoding.
    Then came the Literacy Hour etc. and guess what, we didn't do that any more and standards dropped.
  6. APP reading AF1 level 2: "some fluency and expression, e.g. taking account of punctuation, speech marks"
    We have this as a target for our higher readers in Year 1 this term as they are at a stage where they can decode the words with relative ease. They will often read it once and then reread with expression. Most of the children in my class are at stage 6 and are just beginning to read bits with expression,Even if that just means they stop for breath at the right points that's progress!
  7. pjmteach

    pjmteach New commenter

    Hi. Ressurrected this topic as I'm really struggling with some of my more able Yr 1 Readers. They have come up from Reception on a certain series of books.They read without expression and struggle through texts at too high a level( in my opinion!)
    They don't seem to enjoy the books they read and just plod through them.
    I Know we are at the beginning of the year and it takes some of them a while to get back into the flow of things, but I have one very angry Mum remonstrating with me that her daughter has been "put back two levels!!!!!"
    Am I being old fashioned and pedantic wanting some pace and expression? I have been teaching for a VERY long time and may need to update my ideas.
    Any advice? please?

  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I can imagine! Most parents would not be impressed, might have been better to invite mum in and tell her why before sending home the reading book. Ahhh well.
    No, but if they are reading reading scheme books, there is little opportunity for expression. Those of mine (year 2) on the ORT I'm just thrilled if they can read (decode) all the words. All the others are asked for, encouraged and taught to read with expression.

    I disagree that some children just 'can't' and totally disagree that the literacy hour means children can't hear their teacher reading with expression. Mine hear it daily (now in year 2 and last year in year 6 and the year before in year 5) in storytime. Guided reading sessions also should be teaching this skill.
  9. pjmteach

    pjmteach New commenter

    thanks minnie
    Of course I spoke to mum when I first sent home the boook and once more since then.
    I guess I didnt really ask what I want to know. Is pace and expression not important any more? Am I stuck in the past?
    Reading Early Puffins, struggling with more than half a dozen words on each page,to the extent she loses the thread of the story..... what's the sense in that? the child is never enthusiastic choosing a book
    I vaguely remember somthing from a reading course which said where there are more than three or four words the child can't read in a text, then its too high a level.
    I think I'll just send home more difficult books every few days to keep mum sweet. Somehow it doesn't seem as important after a glass or three of Sauvignon Blanc does it?
  10. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I feel for you - before the wine that is. As a parent of a particular kind of child I would rather that the child's reading book was chosen according to decoding ability, enjoyment and understanding, rather than pace and expression.
    I have encountered different problems with two different children in the school reading book hurdles. DD1 was for ever receiving the comment "read with expression, watch the punctuation" etc etc. For some reason for a long while she insisted on reading in a rapid and dull monotone (also v, quiet) most of the time, although I knew she could do differently. The more times I or the teacher asked for something different the more she stuck in her heels. It did at one time I think result in the teacher sending her back 3 or so levels (10 down to 7 I think). This then resulted in her reading to me like an absolute beginner sounding out every word as she thought this was a funny thing to do with a rather too basic book.
    Her reading was in reality good - she decoded well, understood well, and could read much faster in her head than out loud. She just was not going to do the reading performance - not then anyhow. Now she is in a class where one of the awards handed out each week is for reading with expression. I think this might motivate her to come out of her shell (or awkward spot) and read with expression.
    Another child of mine is being forced to read the rather boring school books although I have a vast choice of books at home of the same kind of readability level. Whilst I agree with the "level" of books she brings home, I am in the awkward situation now of having to somehow get across the message that my child enjoys choosing and reading the books I have at home, but that the ones that come home are deadly and are killing her enjoyment of reading. My DD does choose them at school, but the selection in the box is desperate in my view.
    In my view the amount of reading she does at home far outweighs the amount she does at school (this balance will of course change as she gets older) so why not just let the parents get on with what suits them and their child as they are the ones who have to put up with the books you send home?
  11. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    PJMteach, I thought the rule of thumb for whether a book was OK for a child was if they can decode 90 to 95% of the words without help, understand the content, enjoy the book.
    As a parent I have found that pace, fluency, expression has improved dramatically over time just by the child reading and enjoying reading, and having a good enough grasp of phonics to be able to read what they want to read. It hasn't been necessary to confine a child to a particular "level" until they could read at X words per minute or with fantastic expression.
    I don't remember as a child being unable to proceed with learning to read until I had achieve a certain pace or quality of expression. I just remember some children in junior school being terrible to listen to, and others wonderful. But they were all just as good at reading in their head. Some of them sounded monotone when they spoke so they weren't going to sound like Joyce Grenfell when they read out loud.
    How many adults can read a text really well with expression "from cold"? Listen even to adults who have rehearsed reading in church for example. Some are great at it, some terrible, but it isn't a measure of their reading ability.
  12. I wonder how much reading with expression reflects reading with understanding? If children are so expressionless that they do not use punctuation to guide their reading pace I would be worried about their understanding of the text. They might be approaching it on a word level and regard the task (reading for parent or teacher) as fulfilled as long as they make the right noises, known in past times as, "barking at print". It would be necessary, with such reading, to ask the child about the meaning and check their comprehension.
  13. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    It is of course perfectly possible that the monotone child, ignoring punctuation is not really taking in what they are reading. But you can't assume that. Like you say Thumbie, you need to ask the child about the meaning and check their comprehension before you send them back to easier books.
    But you know, I think the other way round is possible too.
    The hardest books I find to understand them are some of the simpler children's books which don't hold my attention at all. I could read them out loud, with expression, to a young child, and get to the end not having a clue what happened.
    I think that to a certain extent reading with expression is a matter of personality,acting ability, and training. I bet there is no direct correlation with pure "reading ability" (whatever that is).
    I wouldn't necessarily send a child down several "reading levels" because of poor expression. If reading with expression was something that really mattered at that point I'd help them find a book that they really would enjoy and want to read, and that begged for some expression and made it easy to read with expression (e.g. different voices of the different animals and fear, surprise, laughter etc in that well-used book "The Gruffalo").
    As for "reading levels" in the various different "look say" schemes that OUP produce(d), once a child has done sufficient synthetic phonics there isn't much difference between a level 6 or 7 book and a level 9 or 10 book apart from length of sentences, paragraphs, pages, book. And some of them really feel they have been written for the sake of writing a book for OUP. The Songbirds range is good if your child likes them. But really somewhere around stage 7 a child can be reading and properly enjoying real books of a similar standard to the Gruffalo, Angelina Ballerina, Charlie and Lola, Katie Morag etc. If they've been well taught their phonics they don't need to be working their way through those school colour-coded boxes of mish-mash reading schemes. It isn't a necessary medicine to be forced down and swallowed.
    I didn't realise until my first child had worked her way through the schemes to being a reading age of above 8 and started reading chapter books that she could have read a lot of really enjoyable simple children's fiction with lovely illustrations for herself instead of all those scheme readers from about stage 7 onwards.
    With my second child she has done this for herself from about stage 6 onwards as she got fed up with the scheme readers and realised for herself that she could find things on the bookshelf that she could understand and enjoy. It is school now telling her that she must read the school books that is giving me a problem.


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