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June 16, 2017

Read-Alouds in the Middle Grades

By Stacey Burt
Grades 6–8

    The interest of today’s students seems largely to be technology driven. However, I still find read-alouds one of the best ways to capture and hold the digital natives’ attention. Read-alouds in the middle grades provide the teacher with an opportunity to accomplish many objectives at one time. When executed intentionally and with planning, they can transform learning in the following manner:

    ·      Introducing students to a new genre and/or author based on student interest

    ·      Providing a segue for content integration

    ·      Leveling the playing field by providing an entry point for all learners via exposure to ideas and new content

    ·      Giving readers a chance to think deeply and manipulate their conceptual knowledge of a standard or skill

    ·      Delivering options for differentiation through varying products

     

    One of the best resources I have found is Janet Allen and Patrick Daley’s book, Riveting Read-Alouds for Middle School. Their book provides teachers with immediate access to high-interest read-alouds that have been chosen specifically for middle grade students. The topics are varied and on point, and cover a wide range of science and historical topics. Allen and Daley point out that the read-alouds in their book are structured in a predictable and reliable way. Their read-alouds give the educator a chance to build background knowledge through language and vocabulary previewing and a short summary of the text. Teachers will also find a Think, Talk, and Write About Text section for the read-alouds. Additionally, they suggest educators explore interest inventories and take time to get to know students. This effort will enhance decision making when choosing a text to read to students.

    Finally, Allen and Daley assert that nothing can affect the impact of a read-aloud like preparedness. Practicing the selection before reading to students lets the teacher know if things like profanity are in the text, and a practice read can help also help with the creation of higher-level comprehension questions.

    Read-alouds have always been part of my routine. Reading and the application of critical thinking and comprehension are embedded in all content areas. Helping students make that connection is imperative to me as a math and science teacher. Using read-alouds in my classroom offers me a way to introduce a topic or standard in a manner that is based on students’ interests. Beyond modeling fluent reading, I can easily differentiate for my students by focusing on products I want my students to produce after a read-aloud. Attached is a list of some ideas for varying student products when differentiating:

     

    Student Product Options

      Audio Recording (try Vocaroo)

      Google Earth Tour

      Sculpture

     

      Acceptance Speech

      Graph

      Simulation (digital and non-digital)

       Advertisement

       Graphic Organizer

      Slide Show (PowerPoint)

       Avatar (try Voki)

       Infomercial

      Socratic Discussion

       Blog (try Edublogs)

       Infographic (try Canva)

      Song

       Book Jacket

       Interview

      Story Map

       Brochure

       Photo

      Speech

       Cartoon/Graphic Novel

       Portfolio (try Evernote or Seesaw)

      Tag Cloud (try Wordle)

       Collage (digital and non-digital)

       Puppet Show    Theatrical Play

       Commercial

       Literature Circle

       Timeline (try Timeglider)

       Dance

       Magazine

       Video

       Debate

       Maps

       Webpage (try Weebly)

       Demonstration

       Mind Map (try bubbl.us)

       Word Splash

       Discussion (try VoiceThread)

       Mural

       Word Wall (try Word Workshop)

       Discussion with Backchannel

       Music

       Wiki (try Wikispaces)

       Diorama

       News Report (try Fodey)

     

       Drawing

       Poetry

     

       Experiment

       Reenactment

     

       Flow Chart

       Scavenger Hunt

     

       Games (digital and non-digital)

       Scrapbook

     

    Finally, Dr. Sandra Kaplan asserts that helping students make connections between learning and themselves is the key. If students can relate reading topics to something they can directly associate with, the learning and conceptual knowledge becomes “sticky.” Reading aloud to students (of all ages) is a method for deep instruction and connections. For ready-to-go read-alouds, I highly recommend Janet Allen and Patrick Daley’s new book, Riveting Read-Alouds for Middle School.

     

    The interest of today’s students seems largely to be technology driven. However, I still find read-alouds one of the best ways to capture and hold the digital natives’ attention. Read-alouds in the middle grades provide the teacher with an opportunity to accomplish many objectives at one time. When executed intentionally and with planning, they can transform learning in the following manner:

    ·      Introducing students to a new genre and/or author based on student interest

    ·      Providing a segue for content integration

    ·      Leveling the playing field by providing an entry point for all learners via exposure to ideas and new content

    ·      Giving readers a chance to think deeply and manipulate their conceptual knowledge of a standard or skill

    ·      Delivering options for differentiation through varying products

     

    One of the best resources I have found is Janet Allen and Patrick Daley’s book, Riveting Read-Alouds for Middle School. Their book provides teachers with immediate access to high-interest read-alouds that have been chosen specifically for middle grade students. The topics are varied and on point, and cover a wide range of science and historical topics. Allen and Daley point out that the read-alouds in their book are structured in a predictable and reliable way. Their read-alouds give the educator a chance to build background knowledge through language and vocabulary previewing and a short summary of the text. Teachers will also find a Think, Talk, and Write About Text section for the read-alouds. Additionally, they suggest educators explore interest inventories and take time to get to know students. This effort will enhance decision making when choosing a text to read to students.

    Finally, Allen and Daley assert that nothing can affect the impact of a read-aloud like preparedness. Practicing the selection before reading to students lets the teacher know if things like profanity are in the text, and a practice read can help also help with the creation of higher-level comprehension questions.

    Read-alouds have always been part of my routine. Reading and the application of critical thinking and comprehension are embedded in all content areas. Helping students make that connection is imperative to me as a math and science teacher. Using read-alouds in my classroom offers me a way to introduce a topic or standard in a manner that is based on students’ interests. Beyond modeling fluent reading, I can easily differentiate for my students by focusing on products I want my students to produce after a read-aloud. Attached is a list of some ideas for varying student products when differentiating:

     

    Student Product Options

      Audio Recording (try Vocaroo)

      Google Earth Tour

      Sculpture

     

      Acceptance Speech

      Graph

      Simulation (digital and non-digital)

       Advertisement

       Graphic Organizer

      Slide Show (PowerPoint)

       Avatar (try Voki)

       Infomercial

      Socratic Discussion

       Blog (try Edublogs)

       Infographic (try Canva)

      Song

       Book Jacket

       Interview

      Story Map

       Brochure

       Photo

      Speech

       Cartoon/Graphic Novel

       Portfolio (try Evernote or Seesaw)

      Tag Cloud (try Wordle)

       Collage (digital and non-digital)

       Puppet Show    Theatrical Play

       Commercial

       Literature Circle

       Timeline (try Timeglider)

       Dance

       Magazine

       Video

       Debate

       Maps

       Webpage (try Weebly)

       Demonstration

       Mind Map (try bubbl.us)

       Word Splash

       Discussion (try VoiceThread)

       Mural

       Word Wall (try Word Workshop)

       Discussion with Backchannel

       Music

       Wiki (try Wikispaces)

       Diorama

       News Report (try Fodey)

     

       Drawing

       Poetry

     

       Experiment

       Reenactment

     

       Flow Chart

       Scavenger Hunt

     

       Games (digital and non-digital)

       Scrapbook

     

    Finally, Dr. Sandra Kaplan asserts that helping students make connections between learning and themselves is the key. If students can relate reading topics to something they can directly associate with, the learning and conceptual knowledge becomes “sticky.” Reading aloud to students (of all ages) is a method for deep instruction and connections. For ready-to-go read-alouds, I highly recommend Janet Allen and Patrick Daley’s new book, Riveting Read-Alouds for Middle School.

     

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