Say it with me… Reading Aloud is Great for Kids!

Reading Aloud

When you are good at reading, it is easy enough to be called on in class to read aloud. As a student who enjoyed books and reading, this was never a cringe-worthy moment for me.

However, as a student who joined late into learning a new language, I experienced the other side of the coin. Reading aloud in a language I was still learning, with a group that was far ahead was stressful and embarrassing.

As an adult, while reading aloud to my young daughter I’ve noticed the following benefits. Several of these are, I think, applicable in classroom reading as well:

  • Reading Aloud helps you quickly gauge your reading fluency. How fast you read, and whether you pause at the right places, cues the listener into both your reading and comprehension level at the same time.
  • Reading Aloud makes you conscious of pronunciation. Words that make you hesitate or slow you down (even as an adult!) are because of the uncertainty in pronunciation. Just as I used to look up the meaning of a word, I also find myself looking up correct pronunciation these days.
  • Reading Aloud ensures you don’t skip words or meanings. Sometimes when we read, we get the gist without taking in all the words. Reading aloud slows the reading process down and ensures you are reading complete sentences, thereby internalizing sentence construction and story structure.
  • Grammar and punctuation errors are often more obvious to the ear than the eye. When I worked as a copywriter and proofreader, I would regularly read aloud some paragraphs to check if they “sounded” right.
  • Reading Aloud can expand a child’s vocabulary. Words that are commonly used in speech can often be found in books. Young children exposed to these “big words” which they cannot read, helps raise comprehension and add new words to their vocabulary.
  • Reading Aloud tends to hold your focus deeply on the text. By physically vocalizing each word, ensuring right pause and pronunciation, the whole of your attention is on the reading material. This is an excellent way to train mental concentration, particularly, for young readers.

I was probably in the 5th grade before I was able to comparatively reflect on my lack of reading confidence in one class for the same task in the other. And I found my solution as well. Practice. When we were reading aloud in class, I would start counting the number of students to my turn, and then count the paragraph I would have to read aloud, and practiced silently till it was my turn.

And my teacher noticed… “VERY good, Vidya! Next.” Amazing what a small, yet timely praise could serve to encourage a student.

In hindsight, it also solidified my confidence to read and write in a new language.

National Reading Panel Findings on Reading Instruction

In 1997, Congress asked the NICHD, along with the U.S. Department of Education, to form the National Reading Panel to review research on how children learn to read and determine which methods of teaching reading are most effective based on the research evidence.

What are the findings of the National Reading Panel?

The National Reading Panel’s analysis made it clear that the best approach to reading instruction is one that incorporates explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, systematic phonics instruction, methods to improve fluency, and ways to enhance comprehension.

The following is a summary of the panel’s findings:

Concept

Description

Finding

Phonemic Awareness

Means knowing that spoken words are made up of smaller parts called phonemes. Teaching phonemic awareness gives children a basic foundation that helps them learn to read and spell.

The panel found that children who learned to read through specific instruction in phonemic awareness improved their reading skills more than those who learned without attention to phonemic awareness.

Phonics Instruction

Phonics teaches students about the relationship between phonemes and printed letters and explains how to use this knowledge to read and spell.

The panel found that students show marked benefits from explicit phonics instruction, from kindergarten through 6th grade.

Fluency

Fluency means being able to read quickly, knowing what the words are and what they mean, and properly expressing certain words – putting the right feeling, emotion, or emphasis on the right word or phrase. Teaching fluency includes guided oral reading, in which students read out loud to someone who corrects their mistakes and provides them with feedback, and independent silent reading where students read silently to themselves.

The panel found that reading fluently improved the students’ abilities to recognize new words; read with greater speed, accuracy, and expression; and better understand what they read.

Comprehension: Vocabulary instruction

Teaches students how to recognize words and understand them.

The panel found that vocabulary instruction and repeated contact with vocabulary words is important.

Comprehension: Text comprehension instruction

Teaches specific plans or strategies students can use to help them understand what they are reading.

The panel identified seven ways of teaching text comprehension that helped improve reading strategies in children who didn’t have learning disabilities. For instance, creating and answering questions and cooperative learning helped to improve reading outcomes.

Comprehension: Teacher Preparation and comprehension strategies instruction

Refers to how well a teacher knows things such as the content of the text, comprehension strategies to teach the students, and how to keep students interested.

The panel found that teachers were better prepared to use and teach comprehension strategies if they themselves received formal instruction on reading comprehension strategies.

Teacher Education in Reading Instruction

Includes how reading teachers are taught, how effective their methods of teaching reading are, and how research can improve their knowledge of teaching students to read.

In general, the panel found that studies related to teacher education were broader than the criteria used by the panel. Because the studies didn’t focus on specific variables, the panel could not draw conclusions. Therefore, the panel recommended more research on this subject.

Computer Technology in Reading Instruction

Examines how well computer technology can be used to deliver reading instruction.

Because few studies focused on the use of computers in reading education, the panel could draw few conclusions. But, it noted that all of the 21 studies on this topic reported positive results from using computers for reading instruction.

Source: http://reading.uoregon.edu/big_ideas/

To learn more about the National Reading Panel, visit: http://www.nationalreadingpanel.org/default.htm

Five Great Back2School Reading Ideas

Time to get those young readers back into the grove of reading? Here are a few fun activities that can help you get those little gears moving!

Book Stack Bar Charts
Create a book outline or picture and write the actual title for each book and story, which a student has read. Then pin these books like a (growing) stack over the name of the student who has read it. Over the year you can add incentives to help the book stack grow high, and work like a visual bar chart of reading activity for each of your students. Students will be able to see who reads the most, compete to add to theirs, and view each others book titles.

Interactive Map Reading
Organize the students into groups and let each student read the instructions, and work together to find the shortest possible route on the interactive map.

Read a Funny Limerick
Limericks are hilarious if you know how to rhyme. With only four lines to a limerick, your students can get lots of reading and writing practice. Not to mention, lots of laughter.  Alternately print funny limericks with the required vocabulary level, and let students pick one from a box. They can first practice reading it to themselves and then read aloud to the class. The kids will soon figure out the pause, and speed that makes for a good limerick reading!

Put the Story in Order
Creates sets of simple stories with one sentence on every card. Bring a small group (equal to the number of sentences) to the front of the class and have them read their lines in jumbled order. Work with the rest of the class, to put them in sequence. Then get your students to read their sentences again so that the story makes sense.

Fun Word Games
Word scramble, hangman and word search games can all be played using the vocabulary words your students need to be familiar with.