Read Aloud Activities That Work Well in Any Classroom
About the Research & Planning Tips
Reading aloud can help students improve their reading skills, vocabulary acquisition and language skills. Research indicates improvement for at risk students and the concept works well with kindergartens to high school students.
In the article Impact of Read-Aloud in the Classroom: A Case Study by Hanane Oueini, Rima Bahous, and Mona Nabhani, kindergarten students ages five to six who were from economically disadvantaged homes were able to improve vocabulary and comprehension skills. These students were learning French as a second language. When the students participated in discussion of the read aloud stories, they were able to use their newly learned vocabulary and complete analysis and synthesis tasks.
To help students to acquire new vocabulary and improve their comprehension skills, the teachers discussed the story events and students wrote about each story that was read aloud to them. Teachers read storybooks aloud to them, explain unfamiliar words, and lead them in discussions about the story.
To improve the read aloud lessons, another group added small group read aloud activities. The article "Read Alouds Enhanced with Tier 2 Instruction: Closing the Vocabulary and Comprehension Gap in First Grade" in the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness by Scott Baker, Hank Fien, Yonghan Park, Priti Haria, Lana Santoro, David Chard, Janet Otterstedt, and Susanna Williams found that at-risk students with low vocabulary and language skills benefited from small group instruction after interactive read alouds during regular classroom instruction. The small group read alouds included pre-teaching and review activities.
The Purpose for Elementary Students
If one takes a peek inside many classrooms, there may be read aloud books for retelling. Reading aloud helps students to learn to read, retell the story and improve vocabulary through sequencing activities or graphic organizers.
The read aloud for pre-school students can help students learn about the concepts of print, such as book format, title of the book, reading left to right and so forth and the style of the author.
In the English as a Second Language classroom, (ESL) classroom, teachers employ read alouds to help students learn the second language through puppetry, finding the "big idea" in the story and through reading out loud independently.
In addition, there are think aloud activities. Think alouds are more focused than regular read aloud activities. Students are taught predictions, character traits, and story elements while the teacher "thinks" about the text and meanings out loud, thereby modeling how to comprehend the text.
Planning Read Aloud Lesson Plans
Step 1: When planning read aloud lessons, the first thing a teacher needs to decide if the teacher or the students will be reading. Sometimes, older students can do buddy reading activities with younger students; each can improve reading. Or, the students can read to large groups or small groups.
Step 2: Next, teachers need to decide the focus of the activity.
- Will the focus be vocabulary acquisition or comprehension?
- Do students need to learn how to work in a group?
- Will teachers focus on predicting future events, identifying plot elements or discussing the author's purpose, etc.?
Step 3: Teachers need to decide what students will do after the reading the book or magazine.
- Will there be a plot graphic organizer to fill out about the plot?
- Do students need to keep a read aloud journal to summarize what they hear each day?
- Do students need to meet in small groups to make predictions about future readings, to discuss character development, to figure out the author's purpose for the selection, to discuss the mood, etc.?
Step 4: If this is the teacher’s first time doing a read aloud, students need to understand the process and how to behave during the read aloud. If students will be reading, they need to learn how to show the pages with pictures, talk loudly and slowly, and bring the characters in the reading to life.
Step 5: Last, teachers will need to decide how this activity will be assessed.
- Will it just be a participation grade?
- Will students need to complete a journal of their experiences?
- Will there be a rubric created for students completing a read aloud?
Read Aloud for Middle to High School Students
These activities are not for elementary students only; middle school and high school students can benefit from it as well.
Beth Hurst, Kathleen B. Scales, Elizabeth Frecks, Kayla Lewis in the article "Sign Up for Reading: Students Read Aloud to the Class" in The Reading Teacher magazine suggest that giving students the opportunity for daily reading aloud activities gives them practice, which improves their reading. They suggest having a reading list of students so that a different student reads each day in class.
Suggestions for the read alouds in class:
- At the beginning of the year, teachers need to model how to do the read aloud. This includes showing students how to select material, how they will be assessed, how much time the students should read, and how the class should act as an audience.
- Teachers also discuss delivery, which includes volume, tone, and voice.
- Students select a book or magazine to real aloud to the class. They know in advance which day they will read in class.
- Students are encouraged to explain the reason for the reading selection, which allows the class to become more interested in the reading.
The authors of this activity have noticed that when students read aloud that a whole class or small group discussion will ensue, which encourages additional reading. It cultivates a classroom where literacy is a focus. In addition, students feel like they have ownership in the classroom activities.
Read aloud lessons in a classroom can improve reading skills such as comprehension, fluency, character development, learning new vocabulary, understanding story elements, the author's purpose and so forth in preschoolers to high school students, and there is research to prove it.