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Reading Out Loud

I was very interested in suggestion #5 on p. 217 about what to do when students are struggling to read out loud. I struggle with this issue, especially in two areas. First, at Harding, I often have difficulty getting any students to volunteer to read, so I hesitate to slow them down once they get going. I also am reluctant to slow students down when they are trying to read Shakespeare. That's already a challenge. I like Beers' suggested prompts and will try to incorporate them. I try not to let students just bleep over a word, and I try to make sure that my classmates know that I am the only one who should help a struggling student in a whole class situation. I will face the issue this year because students have to read a portion of their assigned passage out loud prior to doing an IB commentary. What do the rest of you do?


Hi, Charles. I just want to share that I used Beers prompting techniques with a certain student who reads far below grade level. In just a couple of sessions, his fluency improved dramatically. We read one on one over lunch or in the afternoon. He would read a page to me, during which I used the prompting questions. Then, he would read independently for a while, and when I saw him losing focus, we would do a page aloud again. After a couple of months, he was reading a novel independently. Using the questions in the whole group seemed to diffuse potentially embarrassing moments for some kids because everybody heard the mistake and they were waiting to see what I would do about it.

We encourage our students to read aloud every day, during their independent reading time. In teaching both first and sixth graders, I see that we encourage "reading out loud" in the primary grades, because that's the only way kids can do it. Once they learn how to keep the text internal, it is left by the wayside. Then reading aloud in class becomes somewhat of a performance, or an anxiety, rather than a strategy the student can employ on their own.

I struggle with students reading aloud in my classroom too. I conducted an informal poll of five teachers in my department this year about how they handle teaching a play or reading aloud in general. This is not representative of our department (we have 18 English teachers of varying experience and educational level). All five veterans (over 20 years experience each) said the key is student choice and no one is forced to read out loud. It sounds easy, but that creates a huge hole in meeting my objective of challenging students with Shakespeare or old English. I suppose you have more power to require do so becasue of the IB standards.

I like what you said about setting up expectations for reading a play. I have a talk about listening while others are reading that includes 1)The language is difficult 2)It is okay to feel frustrated--meaning will emerge eventually 3)Listen, listen, listen and respond 4)Laughing at another's reading is not okay 5)Don't be afraid to move slowly 6)Don't be offended if I ask you to pause or if I insert a clarification

Once I set up the expectations like that, I think I get a few more volunteers. If I can't get anyone to read when it is necessary, then I start using extra credit.

I can hear myself correcting, not prompting. Uh-oh!