While it’s important for students to read as much on their own as possible, there are a lot of benefits to continuing to read aloud to them even in middle school. (I would argue through 12th grade even.) For students who are not reading “on grade level,” when you read aloud, they have an opportunity to access grade level content (or higher), expand their background knowledge, and explore unfamiliar vocabulary. Most importantly, they can be a part of the classroom community of learners in a way they cannot when they are struggling to read on their own or they are reading different, leveled texts.
Some suggestions for reading aloud –
- Read excerpts from longer texts. Don’t shy away from these texts – if you don’t have time to tackle these long-term – then read excerpts of these texts. That’s the beauty of a lot of nonfiction – it doesn’t have to be read front to back.
- Read aloud about current events – as part of your routine at the beginning or end of class. Three minutes of reading aloud; two minutes of whole class or small group or partner discussions. If you have a Smartboard, you can project pictures from the source as you read aloud or a world map with the location of the event marked. A recent survey found (see link below) that our secondary students are unfamiliar with world events and lacking in global knowledge. Check out my Tweets about current events students might be interested in hearing about – https://twitter.com/SundayCummins. Blog about survey – http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2012/09/british_prime_minister_david_c.html.
- Read aloud texts that are relevant to your curriculum and expand students’ thinking. Short read alouds are a chance to take students beyond the texts they are reading as a class. For example, if you are reading historical fiction, what current events reveal similar issues or themes? This is an opportunity to engage students in critical thinking and make what you are studying relevant to the world they inhabit.
- Make select photos or features from the text accessible for viewing during the read aloud. Place the text on the document camera or, in advance, scan select photos and project using the LCD. Make a transparency of one important photo and to place on the overhead projector.
- Find your reading voice. Just as you might read aloud fiction animatedly to draw students’ interest, find your passion for the topic you are reading about. Why is the content of this text (or the author’s the point of view) important for you and your students to know about?
Okay…hope this helps. Touch base with me if you have a chance – how is the reading aloud going in your classroom?