How to make reading aloud MORE ENGAGING AND FUN in a high school English class?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by pinkcupcake90, Apr 4, 2016.

  1. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    Apr 4, 2016

    Hi, everybody.

    This is the number one thing I am struggling with as a new, alternate route English teacher: my sophomores.

    They immensely despise reading the story out loud together. My lesson plan usually consists of vocabulary, then reading a portion of the story, then answering questions (Exit Slip). It's quite boring for them, and more than anything, I want them to love the story and love what they read.

    So, tomorrow we are going to be reading and analyzing "To Build a Fire" by Jack London. How can I make "story time" more fun for them? What techniques do you use to grab their attention during reading?

    I am in great appreciation. Thank you guys so much! :heart:
     
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  3. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Apr 4, 2016

    Why do they have to read out loud?
     
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  4. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    When I read aloud to students, I try to "get into" it as much as I can, with gestures, voices (to some extent), expression, etc. Within reason -- don't make them feel like little kids at storytime! I also stop frequently and ask questions to check for understanding and engagement. My students actually applauded after my dramatic reading of Camus' "Myth of Sisyhus" :)

    If you want the students to read aloud, one option is to do "popcorn reading" in which you call on a student to read a certain amount (one full paragraph, to the next full stop, etc) and then *that* student gets to call on the next student. I find that certain groups like the "fun" of getting to call on someone, but I honestly feel it distracts from the text. You can also do read-around this way (the student sitting next to the reader continues after the next full-stop, for example). This is how I usually read Shakespeare aloud, unless I am doing the third option...

    The third option is to do reader's theater in which you treat the text like a scene and have the readers get up on their feet and act it out as if on stage. This works best with texts with a lot of interaction between characters -- not sure that this approach would work for "To Build a Fire," though, unless you have a student willing to play the part of the dog...
     
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  5. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    I can see a few reasons why reading aloud is vital with certain classes even at the high school level. Some high school classes consist of students who read at the second or third grade level and have never mastered the skill of reading on their own. Because these students lack the skill of reading and comprehending any text on their own, it's probably a good idea to plan for reading aloud during class time.
     
  6. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Are there at least a couple of students who enjoy performing arts to some extent? If so, perhaps you can talk to them about the possibility of performing the story in front of the class. They should be given time to rehearse the story before performing. When they're ready, these few students can come up to the front of the classroom and take turns reading and even acting out the story to the rest of the class.

    Audios of some literature selections also seem to make reading enjoyable for some students. The actors who perform the readings always read with dramatic flair and pronounce difficult words precisely.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
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  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Agree with the above...also, think about your purpose for reading aloud. If you are just making them read aloud to "force" them to actually read, this is not going to foster a great love of reading.
     
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  8. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Apr 4, 2016

    The methods you use to teach your class would have worked just fine years ago. Unfortunately, this generation of children are used to more stimulation. Can you have the students complete projects related to the story to show their understanding of the story and the vocabulary? Doesn't have to be major projects, just things that can be completed in class individually or in small groups.

    Especially this time of year, school is winding down and boredom sets in with everyone. Granted, I don't teach children that old, but I try to change things up every day so my students are kept guessing about what we will be doing to make the lesson interesting.
     
  9. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I agree with Swansong that we probably have to do more to grab students' attention than in the past. However, you still do need to have some good strategies to get kids to engage with the text. You could do a project at the end of the unit, but you still need to get them to read in the first place. Ay, there's the rub! As a new teacher especially, it is a good idea to have routines in place, and it's good that you are doing explicit vocabulary development (I need to spend more time on this -- developing the vocabulary explicitly, not explicit vocabulary!). The #1 best strategy I have found so far to get students to actually read and engage with a text is the Harkness discussion method which I have mentioned before -- PM me if you want more info!
     
  10. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I don't teach high school, but in 4th grade choosing the right ideas to analyze have a lot to do with how well the students will read and engage in the text. I would think about what moral or ethical issues present themselves in the text or what kinds of cause and effect relationships you can connect to.
     
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  11. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    In "To Build A Fire," another concept for the students to discuss is which lessons they can learn from the man who refused to heed the advice he receives from the old timer (who is named as such by the man)? We know that the man later regrets that he didn't heed the advice, but it was too late for him save himself while he still could. Several of my at-risk students were able to relate to this lesson because they would share how they regretted their choice to ignore the good advice that they received from their teachers, counselors, and social workers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
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  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Apr 4, 2016

    Although some of my students complain about reading (some will always complain no matter what) most of them are doing great with reading and out lessons go well. This year we've read 2 books (Night and Dawn by Elie Wiesel) and will will read quite a few short stories in the next few weeks. Your story is one of them.

    This is what works for me and have been doing it like this for a few years:
    - I don't pick them to read, they volunteer. I have varying levels of readers and don't want to have anyone embarrassed. This creates a safe environment for them, some will never volunteer but I've seen struggling readers do because they feel safe. There's usually plenty of readers wanting to read, I read as well.
    - they get participation points, weather they read out loud or follow along (I use Class Dojo).
    - I chunk the reading. After a few paragraphs or so or no more than a page I stop and ask them to summarize what we've just read. I basically ask "so what happened here?" and have them retell what we've read. This clarifies any confusion, as sometimes they just read, read but don't really pay attention.
    - I often stop to ask questions such as "why did he say that?" What do you think he meant by that?" Basically higher level questions that make them think. Other times I stop to clarify vocabulary, and of course to make sure they don't miss a major point. Other times have them predict, form an opinion, etc.
    - Stopping every so often break up the reading before it gets boring. This ensures that they stay engaged and pay attention, they don't have time to doze off or day dream.

    The best time we've ever had with a reading was when we read 12 Angry Men and I assigned roles and we read it in reader's theater style. That was so great, the kids got into it, had ownership over the characters, even almost fought over who was getting what role. It was great.
     
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  13. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Linguist92021, I'm happy that you had so much success with those great literature works, especially considering that you teach alternative ed. It has been my experience that many students in these classes have little to no prior interest in reading and writing.

    In the past, I likewise have read 12 Angry Men with at-risk students. We discussed how we ourselves would want someone like Juror #8 to listen to all sides of the story especially if we were ever in the protagonist's situation (although we hope that we never get falsely accused of a crime like the protagonist did). Another topic that came up was in regards to how we shouldn't be so judgmental because we wouldn't want someone to do the same thing to us.

    Even though there were some students who initially had the attitude, "It's just a story and it doesn't work that way in the real world," I still saw an improvement in the way they treated other people. We discussed how the stories we read in class ARE NOT just stories; they all say something about the human condition and are usually based on real people's experiences.
     
  14. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    Apr 5, 2016

    Thank you so much, everybody! I feel like I'm getting better at this, but I could definitely use the extra guidance. My Alternate Route class isn't prepping me for teaching much like teaching itself. :D
     
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  15. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    It's true...nothing prepares you for the classroom like the classroom itself! Your first year is a real trial by fire.
     
  16. Jamie Rosen

    Jamie Rosen Guest

    Apr 7, 2016

    I'm constantly trying to find interesting reading material for my students. I took a chance this year and it paid off big! One of my students is really into the paranormal. She constantly discusses the paranormal shows she watches on Destination America and the Sci-Fi Channel.
    I asked her if she ever read anything regarding the paranormal. Even though we are from Austin, she was heavily into a book called Haunted East Los Angeles. One night, as I sat home drinking some wine and grading papers, I decided I'd buy a class set of the book. My students went bonkers for it!! In my 13 years of teaching, I've never seen students more enthusiastic about reading. I read the short book aloud to the class and every student followed along. I recently ordered, through the school this time, another book called Haunted America. I hope I have the same success. You should try some books on the paranormal. Students really love reading about ghosts!
     
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