When in doubt, read aloud.
|Yes, even 8th graders love being read to|
We know we're preaching to the choir, but - considering you may be experiencing the same information-overload we are and are fried and don't know what day it is and maybe just ran your dryer without clothes in it *raises hand* - we figured it couldn't hurt to reiterate what can be accomplished during a read aloud.
When you read aloud, what you provide your students includes but is not limited to:
- Vital SEL connections
- Awareness of decision making skills (masked as discussion of character choices and behavior)
- Mini-lessons on figurative language, dialogue, narration, etc.
- Instruction of writing techniques (point out varying sentence structure, or use of flashbacks or internal dialogue)
- Extension to history or science (research real-life humans, experiences, and events!)
- Vocabulary (Who knows what this clairvoyant means?)
- Comprehension skills (Stop and ask questions. They won't even know they're learning.)
- Author's purpose (Why do you think the author included that scene?)
- Quote analysis
- Theme development (What is the author saying about belonging?)
- Meta-cognition of the act of reading (Say aloud, "Oh, this must be a new character. Haven't heard of him before. Let's see where he fits in."
Look at all that teaching work you're doing! Put your cape on! You're a superhero! You win at life!
Read alouds have been our salvation - personally and professionally- these last few weeks. Whether live or pre-recorded, a comfy read aloud allows your kids to see you in messy hair and sweatpants, your cats wandering in the background, your dog playing with toys, your kids making a mess. It allows you to look human! That's a good thing!
|Before: not even close to six feet apart|
Erin has been hosting live read-aloud sessions every day (Saturdays, too!) at 9am and noon. She's using Google Meet to connect with kids live from her couch. She's got her breakfast crew and her lunch bunch. She's even attracted younger siblings and parents.
Now, we're not talking massive numbers of kids here, either. There are about 40 students in the book club Mary guest-read for - and most don't use the teacher-read option. Erin regularly has 8-12 kids sit in on her read alouds. But THAT'S OKAY. It's like the starfish story. (Don't know it? Google it. It could make for a cool lesson with your kids.) It doesn't matter if you don't reach ALL the kids...you just have to reach one.
These read-alouds may be a life line for a child who needs one. They may be a blessed respite for a parent who is trying to juggle working from home and being an online school coordinator. They may be downtime for a family who is exhausted by anxiety and uncertainty. So if it's only a handful, that's okay.
|After: Don't judge. We warned you it wasn't pretty.|
And here's another thing that shouldn't be overlooked...these read aloud sessions help teachers maintain normalcy. It helps us feel like we're doing something familiar and comforting. That's important, too! We've been tossed into the new world of online teaching with precious little warning and training. So there is absolutely nothing wrong with engaging in something that is simple and familiar.
Erin recently finished her "breakfast book:" a super-popular 295-page middle-grade novel, and it was completed in under two weeks. Hallelujah! FINALLY! We are showing our kids how novels should be read. How many times have we fought to balance our read-alouds amid curriculum requirements and dragged the thing on for six, eight, fourteen weeks?
You've heard us preach before: The books you read may be the only books a child is exposed to all year long. That's why we have to make them good ones.
But here's a new thought: the way you read could be the only model a child sees for how one should experience the gift of reading.
Many authors and publishers have granted their permission for teacher read alouds during this unexpected time. Find a book you want to read (Now is your chance! Pick the good stuff!), Google the publisher (we've linked a list here) and follow the guidelines.
But be prepared for the kids to ask you to read on the weekends or to "Keep going! Pllleeeeeeease!"