Matching instruction to the needs and interests of every student is an overwhelming challenge. In this setting, no teacher should be without the simple strategy of read alouds. Whether teaching elementary, middle, or high school, read alouds connect students to the content they need to learn, peak student interest, and provide information. Who, after all, doesn't love a story?
Sylvia Galliard, media specialist at Carmel Elementary School in Woodstock Georgia, is the best when it comes to read alouds. With dramatics and enthusiasm, she uses read alouds to maximize interest at any age. "A read aloud experience should be one that astounds them, shares an amazing story, or provides incredible information," explains Galliard, who uses books like The Chinese Mirror, by Mirra Ginsburg to familiarize her metro-Atlanta students with a far away culture. "For younger children, this book serves as their first introduction to Asia. For older kids, it leads to a study of oriental cultures or folktales."
Janet Hollis, a new friend of mine who teaches at Grissom in Huntsville, Alabama, believes read alouds also have a place in high school. Hollis, a reading specialist and 26-year classroom veteran, explains, "I have a specific purpose in mind with each read aloud. I often use simple picture books to illustrate literary concepts like point of view (The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka) or setting (The Faithful Friend, by Robert D. San Souci). With students who have limited reading skills, I use read alouds to address the gap between their listening and reading vocabularies."
Hollis expands her approach by also using read alouds for cultural literacy, or to help students understand writings from the 19th century and earlier, such as Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, Homer's Odyssey, or the plays of Shakespeare. "Hearing how punctuation, rhythm, or fluency in reading work in those texts helps students comprehend them." Hollis adds, "On the other hand, I occasionally share a read aloud that's nothing but fun."
Want one more reason to use read alouds with students? The activity involves no extra worksheets or grading papers. It builds on the curriculum without more busy work. At the same time, it enriches vocabulary, builds background knowledge, and enhances listening skills. Most of all it, gives teachers a means to expand and reinforce student learning. What a power pack! Pick up your first book today!ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Read Aloud Picture Books
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