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May 25, 2018

Middle Schoolers Need Read-Alouds Too!

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 6–8

    Here’s a question for you: What grade were you in when having a teacher read aloud to your class stopped being the norm? Elementary? Middle school? High school? I am going to go out on a limb and guesstimate that for the majority, it would be upper elementary.

    I myself have strong memories of my kindergarten teacher reading to me. I also remember my third-grade teacher reading poetry to start the day. But after that, the recollections end. Most of my colleagues that I queried had similar experiences. They remember their teacher reading to them in the lower elementary grades, but not past fourth grade.

    I know by reading to my sixth graders, they are exposed to literature that they might not be instinctively drawn to. I wanted to try out as many genres as possible to broaden their knowledge base. I decided to make a real effort to include as many opportunities as I can for read-alouds — especially for my inclusion class. (This class has a 50 percent special education population. Of the other half, about 25 percent are English Language Learners.)

    After 30-plus years of teaching, I am really focused on working smarter not harder. The days of hunting down the just-right text to support my teaching needs to end. Riveting Read-Alouds for Middle School, written by Janet Allen and Patrick Daley offers invaluable insights to make the process of reading to upper grades easier to implement. At first glance, one might think that the book is just a collection of text to read to students. It is so much more than that.

    Yes, it does have a collection of short stories, articles, poetry, and even a mythology text. In addition to the collection of texts, however, the authors walk you through the entire read-aloud process, offering additional resources to integrate into any literacy classroom. Each text has the following teaching tips:

    • Short summary/overview of the text

    • Language and vocabulary activity (use this for small group instruction)

    • Think and Talk about the text (use this for small group instruction)

    Most texts have a literary term connection that can also be used to support reading and writing workshop. I did a little extra legwork to make my life a little easier when planning what text to use with my lessons. I created a chart and organized the text by genre, format, title, and author. I also included the other curriculum areas such as social studies and science where students would greatly benefit from hearing the text read aloud. See below for a sample of my Read Aloud Reference Sheet using Riveting Read-Alouds.

    Riveting Read-Alouds for Middle School Reference Sheet

    Now that I have my reference sheet, I am able to efficiently integrate my read-alouds with my required district curriculum. Using this resource cemented the idea that literacy is not just taught by literacy teachers but needs the support of the other subject area teachers. 

    As we all get ready for the end of this school year, I wish all of you an amazing and restful summer. I have truly enjoyed sharing my teaching journey with you and look forward to sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier! 

    Here’s a question for you: What grade were you in when having a teacher read aloud to your class stopped being the norm? Elementary? Middle school? High school? I am going to go out on a limb and guesstimate that for the majority, it would be upper elementary.

    I myself have strong memories of my kindergarten teacher reading to me. I also remember my third-grade teacher reading poetry to start the day. But after that, the recollections end. Most of my colleagues that I queried had similar experiences. They remember their teacher reading to them in the lower elementary grades, but not past fourth grade.

    I know by reading to my sixth graders, they are exposed to literature that they might not be instinctively drawn to. I wanted to try out as many genres as possible to broaden their knowledge base. I decided to make a real effort to include as many opportunities as I can for read-alouds — especially for my inclusion class. (This class has a 50 percent special education population. Of the other half, about 25 percent are English Language Learners.)

    After 30-plus years of teaching, I am really focused on working smarter not harder. The days of hunting down the just-right text to support my teaching needs to end. Riveting Read-Alouds for Middle School, written by Janet Allen and Patrick Daley offers invaluable insights to make the process of reading to upper grades easier to implement. At first glance, one might think that the book is just a collection of text to read to students. It is so much more than that.

    Yes, it does have a collection of short stories, articles, poetry, and even a mythology text. In addition to the collection of texts, however, the authors walk you through the entire read-aloud process, offering additional resources to integrate into any literacy classroom. Each text has the following teaching tips:

    • Short summary/overview of the text

    • Language and vocabulary activity (use this for small group instruction)

    • Think and Talk about the text (use this for small group instruction)

    Most texts have a literary term connection that can also be used to support reading and writing workshop. I did a little extra legwork to make my life a little easier when planning what text to use with my lessons. I created a chart and organized the text by genre, format, title, and author. I also included the other curriculum areas such as social studies and science where students would greatly benefit from hearing the text read aloud. See below for a sample of my Read Aloud Reference Sheet using Riveting Read-Alouds.

    Riveting Read-Alouds for Middle School Reference Sheet

    Now that I have my reference sheet, I am able to efficiently integrate my read-alouds with my required district curriculum. Using this resource cemented the idea that literacy is not just taught by literacy teachers but needs the support of the other subject area teachers. 

    As we all get ready for the end of this school year, I wish all of you an amazing and restful summer. I have truly enjoyed sharing my teaching journey with you and look forward to sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier! 

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