This semester in READ 6309 students explored components of a strong reading program. As part of their work they were asked to contribute to this blog.
By S. Garza
I think most teachers are familiar with read alouds and associate them with a teacher reading a big book and all of the students sitting and listening at the carpet in the primary grade levels. In Yellow Brick Roads, Janet Allen wants to move us away from this mentality. One of the best reasons for reading aloud in any classroom is the fact that “read-aloud is risk free” as Allen says. The students that struggle to read do not have to worry about not being able to follow along or getting lost or not knowing how to read the words. These students can just sit there and enjoy the story like everyone else. It would be good to keep in mind that there are struggling readers that will benefit from being able to enjoy a good story from beginning to end at every grade level.
I really like how Allen feels that read-aloud sets the stage for learning to read and reading to learn. It makes sense that if students are familiar enough with literacy and literature then they can have a better chance with it later on. I feel that this also means that as teachers we should incorporate a much larger variety of genres into our read-alouds in order to better help our students with this endeavor.
Allen talks about preparation with read-alouds. This is something that I don’t think many people always think about. Many times read-alouds are not taken as serious instructional time because there is not always a lot of time spent on planning for it. But some teachers, like Allen, do in fact, spend a great deal of time planning for a good read aloud. Teachers need to learn how to pick appropriate books for a read-aloud. The book may need to be chosen for the proper age group, topic that is currently being covered, or may be just a book for enjoyment. It would be good to go through the book and see what vocabulary might be problematic for the students before the read-aloud. There may be some background information that maybe beneficial for the students to know before the reading.
Allen recommends observing the students during the read-aloud to see the engagement during the reading. Give the students time to talk about the story and discuss what they think and feel. This will give the students the opportunity to make personal connections to the story and make it relevant to their own lives.