poem by Beverly McLoughland , illustrated by Queenie Chan

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to vary my expression when reading aloud so that I can deliver spoken text fluently.

Success Criteria:

  • I can explain how punctuation and other poetic techniques affect the way text is said aloud.
  • I can consider variations in expression when reading aloud.
  • I can read a text fluently using expression.

Oral language and communication

Pose the following question for students:

What markings could we use to show readers how to read aloud a text?

Answer: Punctuation.

Discuss the use of various punctuation such as commas, exclamation marks and em-dashes, as well as font changes such as italics and bold. Have students describe and use examples of what they need to do with their voice for each punctuation mark.

Understanding text:

Display the full poem of Retreat! on the board. Read the poem aloud while having students listen silently. Choose appropriate words to emphasise and places to pause. After reading, ask students if you read the passage exactly as the punctuation dictated. Students should recognise that you made your own choices in certain parts, and that you may have paused at the end of a line, which is not necessarily the end of the sentence. Explain that poetry also uses line breaks to indicate pauses.

Explain that the class will be working together to creating their own markups on the poem according to how you initially read it. Students should consider tone, pitch, pace and volume when deciding on their markups. Invented markups could include a jagged line around the word “retreat” to show saying it loudly, squiggly connecting lines between “head and tail” and “legs and feet” to show saying it quickly or an enclosed bubble around “stony gift” to show saying it breathily as if in awe. Finish the markup and read it again, ensuring students are satisfied with how the expression of the poem is represented.

Creating text:

Cover or hide your markups and put students into pairs. Have each student read aloud the poem to their partner in whichever way they choose. Partners can give feedback and suggestions on the reading. Pairs then discuss and decide which way they would like to mark up the poem to show how to read it aloud.

Give students time to practice before presenting their poem to the class, reading together as a pair and using the agreed markups. If you have a digital subscription, students can record themselves reading Retreat! and play it back.

Assessment for/as learning:

Have students respond to the following question:

“In your own words explain how punctuation and other poetic techniques affect the way text is read aloud.”

Ask children to use an exit ticket strategy to record this reflection.