Revisiting the Introductory Challenge

Background

As a paraprofessional, you’re likely to be asked to listen to students read orally. The introductory challenge asked you to think about how you could judge whether a student’s oral reading is fluent. There are many guides, or rubrics, for this purpose, and the teacher might ask you to use a rubric and score a student’s reading based on the guidance the rubric provides. It would probably be fairly easy for you to decide how many words a student pronounces accurately or inaccurately and how many words per minute a student reads aloud. But deciding how expressively a student reads aloud is more difficult. Use the sentences and questions below to reflect on what you might consider as you evaluate students’ performance in reading aloud. If you’re working through this module in a workshop or course, your facilitator may ask you to discuss your thoughts with others in the group.

Procedures

To think about how you might decide whether a student read aloud in an expressive way, try reading the following sentences aloud to yourself, then think about a student reading them and answer the four questions about each sentence or question you read aloud.

Step 1

Read these sentences aloud with expression, as an actor in a movie or play might read them:

Oh dear, there’s a bug in my potato salad!

Sandy looked at a dozen stores in the mall before she found a prom gown that fit her perfectly.

We’ve been driving in traffic for hours; are we ever going to get home?

I wish I could have a piece of that peanut butter pie.

“Maybe it was a ghost,” Jim said in a whisper.

Step 2

Read each of the sentences aloud and with expression again. This time, after each sentence, answer the following questions:

  1. On which word or words would an actor put the most emphasis by saying the word or words louder or with a rising pitch?
  2. Where would an actor pause to show meaning (and punctuation) within the sentence?
  3. Which phrase (group of two or more words) within the sentence or question would an actor be likely to read a little more rapidly, almost like they were one word, because they’re so often said together?
  4. What emotion or feeling would an actor’s tone of voice show, to indicate the emotion or feeling suggested by the meaning of the sentence?

Step 3

Reflect on whether you paid more attention to the punctuation within each sentence in order to be sure to read it expressively.  Think about what else you paid attention to so you could read the sentences as an actor would read his or her lines in a movie or play.