Reading aloud clowning

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by fifthmonkee, Sep 21, 2006.

  1. fifthmonkee

    fifthmonkee Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2006

    I'm working with some difficult, unmotivated kids under some unusual circumstances, and I could use some advice.

    I teach in a yeshiva (all-boys, Jewish day-school) where we cannot assign homework in secular classes. All reading, writing, etc. must be done in our 45 minute hour. I like to do "round robin" reading where we each take turns with a paragraph, but so far, I'm having difficulty in at least two areas.

    1. How to keep the kids who are not reading at any given time engaged or even just paying attention

    2. What to do with kids who won't read the text "straight." Don't get me wrong, I would love it if they would use some inflection, but instead some kids intentionally mispronounce words, play games with tone, volume etc all the for the purpose of turning the text into nonsense, being a clown, or simply being disruptive. How do I deal with such students?

    Finally, is round-robin reading simply a bad idea? Maybe I should just have them read silently? But then how can I get a sense of their fluency?

    Please advise!
     
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  3. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Sep 21, 2006

    Round-robin is a good idea in theory but it assumes a lot of maturity on the part of the students--they have to want to attend to their peers' reading, and it doesn't sound like that is the case. You might find a variation where you randomly select students (they don't go in a predictable order, as is the case with round-robin)--students would be more forced to attend to the text then. You could use names pulled from a hat, sticks from a can, etc. or just name people as you go (from a hat or a can might be "fun").

    Do you have any kind of management system in your class, a reinforcement system or something they are earning? If not, I might look into trying something (depending on your school). While it would be great if all students came to school intrinsically motivated to learn and behave, it simply isn't the reality, and students who have a patchy history in school sometimes need some external motivators to get them into an intrinsic motivation groove. If you did incorporate something like that, you might find it easier to "force" them to attend while using a more random round-robin method.

    Also, one thing that might sound crazy, but I would consider bringing an audio recorder in the classroom. First, I'd check with administration, making it clear that the students would be aware of the recording. I used to do this with some of my less fluent reading students, we would record ourselves reading aloud, and then play the tapes back to listen for strong and weak points. This sort of technology, even though it is very simple, can prove really motivating for some students, and it might prompt your students to read more appropriately (or it might do the complete opposite and only make them want to goof off more). You could also try incorporating that into some further project, such as recording the readings for use in your school library--books on tape, etc. that future students in your course could make use of. That might help students take things more seriously.

    Just a few suggestions, maybe none will help, but good luck regardless!
     
  4. mshutchinson

    mshutchinson Comrade

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    Sep 21, 2006

    Some people believe round robin is a bad deal all around, but I love it. I don't go 'in order' (so I guess it's not a true round robin). When I was a tutor/aide in remedial reading, the teacher shared a thought - it's cruel to force a person to do something they suck at - with an audience. I never will. There are a lot of ways to work with and around the 'weak readers'.

    Are these kids really weak readers covering up, or are they behavior problems waiting for the chance to act up?

    I have students volunteer to read most of the time. I have some VERY difficult kids, and in some classes kids don't want to volunteer, I tell them, If I don't get two more volunteers, I will have to start choosing people.

    I've also threatened them with a real round robin (where everyone must read). I have only had to follow through on that once or twice in 3 years. I also take part by reading a chunk myself. There have been times when I rea 3/4 of the text and had a few students finish it up.

    I think the thing that makes the biggest difference is that I tell the kids they can read as much or as little as they'd like, but they must end at the end of a paragraph. Which really forces them to read one paragraph, but believe it or not, almost all the time they go 2, 3 or even 4+ paragraphs.

    I also thank them quickly or praise and give a big smile as soon as they finish. (Thank you Tracy, :) Ron?)

    Also, sometimes I just read *to* the kids. They will say it's for babies, but they love it. IT shows them how to pronounce and used inflections and navigate punctuation. If you get the story going using your superior reading, it can get the kids much more 'hooked', and when you're tired, pause, discuss to get them more 'riled up', THEN ask who wants to read. This works really well with suspenseful stories, but you can create suspense in most stories.
     
  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    Sep 22, 2006

    I've found that any "goof offs" I have during oral reading come from kids who aren't confident in their reading abilities, so they try being funny to cover it up.

    I don't do round-robin reading. I sometimes use "popcorn" reading where the kids call on each other to read, but they only pick from volunteers who raise a hand. Sometimes I'll have one student who will volunteer to read the entire time. I read to mine a lot, too. I have 7th graders and they love to be read to!
     
  6. fifthmonkee

    fifthmonkee Rookie

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    Sep 22, 2006

    But how to help the "goof offs?"

    I understand that some kids lack confidence in reading, but if we don't call on them to read aloud, how can they improve their fluency?

    Also, in my case, one of my classes only has two students, one of whom does indeed lack reading confidence (and who "goofs off". But I can't just have the one read all the time and the other not. Suggestions?

     
  7. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    Sep 22, 2006

    Reading aloud doesn't mean that the student has to read aloud with an audience. Have the student read aloud to only you, to another teacher/assistant/volunteer, to a non-judgemental peer, or even into a microphone/tape recorder. That way he can improve fluency without being put "on the spot." I know that I'd hate to have to try to improve something I don't do well in front of a group of people who do it well.

    I deal with classes of 20-30 students, so I don't know about two.
     
  8. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Sep 22, 2006

    I teach 10th grade English, and I've had some students use silly voices or deliberately slow reading too. One infamous incident this past year involved two honors girls reading Julius Caesar in these ridiculous attempts at British accents and giggling between every word. Finally I became angry and announced that I was just going to show them the movie if they were going to make a joke of it. I pushed the tape into the VC-R with too much force, and the VC-R ate my difficult-to-locate copy of Marlon Brando's 1953 Julius Caesar . . . on the Ides of March, no less!

    You're in a tough situation because you can't assign homework. I'd personally assign most reading outside of class, but you can't do that.

    I also use popcorn when reading in class. This keeps them on their toes because they never know if they'll get called on. If someone is a particularly poor reader, I'll probably interject to make a point and then resume reading myself. I discovered during the first week of school this year that I had a boy who literally couldn't read by this method. :( He would just make the sound of the first letter of each word, and he was fidgeting nervously a lot. Although I'm sorry that he had to have an embarrassing experience, I don't think I would have found this out any other way. I was able to get him switched into a special ed classroom right away.

    Some of my ESL students in my remedial classes mentioned in their introductory letters that they hate reading aloud. I can imagine they feel that their accents and uncertaintly about how to pronounce certain words are obvious to all the other kids. But I've found that with the kids with thick accents and the boy who really couldn't read, the kids have a certain amount of kindness. Just today a few other students in the class were whispering patiently how to pronounce words to an ESL student (this could be an embarrassing situation too, but it seemed like the kids weren't impatient with her; they just wanted to help).

    It's the kids in the middle and upper level classes who feel the need to turn reading into a joke, who snicker when they make a mistake, and who purposely mispronounce or read slowly. Given the fact that you cannot assign outside reading, I would give them time to read silently.

    What is it that they're reading from every day? If it's the textbook, I would recommend varying how the information is presented. Monday, they have to read silently, completing a "scavenger hunt" of questions to answer in groups at the end. Tuesday, give a lecture that summarizes the reading and show them related pictures and primary source documents. Wednesday, have them round robin through the text and then answer the questions from it silently afterwards. Thursday, assign each boy a section of the text to read and summarize for the others either verbally or in notes on the board. Friday, give them a quiz on what they've learned that week and have a socratic seminar about what it all means.

    In 9th and 10th grades I had a lot of projects in history class. I remember turning our classroom into medieval Venice once. We built a big gondola out of cardboard and made little passports for all of our classmates. Students of that age can get very excited when asked to be creative.
     

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