Fun and Interactive Learning Through Read Alouds in a Bilingual Classroom

This semester students in READ 6306 each wrote a course-related post for this blog.

 By Gracia T. Garcia

The benefits of reading to children have been extensively researched in both home and school settings.  Research results constantly show that reading to children in their preschool years help them to become readers themselves (Parkes, 2000).  Joe Hayes offers us a wonderful tool that can be used to engage students during read aloud.  This book offers nine great stories: Rain, Válgame Dios!, One Day, One Night, Sky Pushing Poles, Yellow Corn Girl, The Earth Monster, Yellow Behind the Ears, and The Cricket.  These are all stories from the southwestern United States culture.  Studies have shown that storytelling may be an important step for developing English competence.  This book provides teachers with a great tool that could be used for telling stories to their students as it offers multiple pictures that can be used to see what body language and facial gestures could be used during reading or storytelling.  As a read aloud this book helps the teacher by providing the opportunity to demonstrate what good readers do as they read.  Students can easily pick up fluency by reading these stories since they are repetitive and they add on.  At first, students see the intonation that the teacher uses as the story is read according to the situation.  The pacing changes as the teacher reads and makes pauses in comas or stops at other punctuations marks. 

Joe Hayes offers these stories in a way that all students can take part in the telling as they are read.  Side notes explain how Hayes gets the students involved and lets them add more as the story advances.  He does an amazing job of weaving English and Spanish together to tell these tales.  The use of both languages provides English Language Learners with the opportunities to make connections to their new language.  Later on, students can use the book for clarification on unknown vocabulary in English or Spanish.  This book also brings pride to Spanish students as they see how their language is valued as it is used during instruction time to help with fluency.  According to Pat Johnson, fluency is the grouping of words, the pacing changes the reader uses at different points of the story, the intonation, the rise and fall of the voice, the excitement of expression the reader brings to bear on the meaning of the text—all this was easily learned by students through a read aloud (Johnson, 2006).  “The first purpose of shared reading is to provide children with enjoyable reading experiences, to introduce them to a variety of authors and illustrators and the ways these communicators craft meaning, and to entice them to want to be readers themselves.  The second, equally important purpose is to teach children systematically and explicitly how to be readers and writers themselves” (Parkes, 2000). 

 Johnson, P. (2006). One child at a time: Making the most of your time with struggling readers, K-6. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers

Parks, B. (2000). Read it again!: Revisiting shared reading. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers

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