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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Reading Outloud - Where? When? Why?

"The teacher needs to think about why he or she is using the book and connect it to the curriculum, to have purpose, to think about how you will introduce it to the students,” Ms. Albright said. “You don’t want to just pick up a book, read it, and then close it and move on.”

Research  on the effects of reading out loud on middle school and high school students is just being published.   In the article,
 Reading Aloud to Teens Gains Favor Among Teachers
Ms. Albright presents her research in this article on reading out loud to teens.  Both the pros and the cons are presented with several examples.

As I read this article, I reflected on how our understanding of the reading process has changed over the years.  When we began reading out loud in the primary grades, we discussed how it would motivate, engage students.  Trelease's work supported this and it spread up through the grades.

Content area teachers at the upper grades took this on when they began to share primary sources with their students.  However, as students' reading of nonfiction texts became more demanding and less proficient, many teachers opted to read out loud to their students - from the textbooks.

 Marie Clay and the Goodmans made yet another connection when they identified the three sources of information - meaning, phonics (visual), and syntax - and reminded primary teachers of the importance of read alouds for beginning readers in order to build up background (auditory, but memorable) in the areas of meaning and synatx.  Book language is often different from spoken language and read alouds can provide experience, build a bridge for young readers.


Janet Allen, in her book Yellow Brick Roads, applied the same premise to teens - siting frontloading in content areas and text structure as two key elements students need to deal with at the middle school and high school levels.

For my part, I agree with Janet.  Students are often overwhelmed when they are presented with nonfiction texts.  Strategies for nonfiction are not generally taught as explicitly or regularly as strategies for fiction.  Unfortunately, students are required to deal with nonfiction texts at the same time they are being presented with new concepts.  This is a huge cognitive task for many of our students.

Read alouds can often help diffuse this situation and provide opportunities to teach students effective strategies and enhance their comprehension.

For practical input from experts - classroom teachers - got to:
About 300 teachers responded to a reporter’s inquiry posted on listservs run by the
English Companion Ning social networking site
and the National Council for the Social Studies seeking comments on why and what they read aloud to their middle and high school students.

These responses have been posted on the English Companion NING, Jim Burke, administrator.

For those members of EDU590 and 591, Where do strategies based on read alouds fit in our Construction-Integration Model of Comprehension?

Please comment:) 

This post is based on Smart Brief from ASCD.

1 comment:

Mrs. DeRaps said...

I was one of the teachers who responded! This is a great topic that needs more attention. I think that there is no easier way to engage students in reading than by modeling engagement in reading by reading aloud.

Thanks for the article and book suggestion.