Reading, Teaching, Learning

Friday, March 13, 2015

Slice of Life Story Challenge - What I Know For Sure - Read Alouds

     It's Day 13 of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, started by Two Writing Teachers.  I am writing around the theme topic of "What I Know For Sure." (See Day 1 for a full explanation.)

World Read Aloud Day 2013

     Libby called last night, and we got to talking about her children's literature class she's taking.  She's a marketing major, but she had heard from a couple of her friends that the lit class was great, and she's a reader, so she thought it would be fun.  She just finished Rules by Cynthia Lord and loved it.  She had never read it before.  Now she's reading Number the Stars.  This is a reread for her.  I remember being the guest reader when her class was reading it aloud in 4th grade.  I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and jumped at the chance to read aloud to a class.  During our phone call last night, we reminisced over the read alouds we enjoyed together and talked about how important books were in her childhood. 

     Reading aloud is a non-negotiable in my classroom.  I try to read aloud every day.  This is another reason why PARCC testing was so difficult over these past 12 days.  It interrupted my regular schedule, and I wasn't able to read aloud to all my classes on a daily basis.  The flow of Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin for my 5th graders, and The Giver for my 6th graders was rudely interrupted!  No wonder I was a little cranky all week.  Reading aloud is magical.  It creates community and a shared experience, builds vocabulary and background knowledge, models fluency, gives readers a sense of story, and is just plain fun.  Every literacy cycle I plan includes a read aloud, usually around the theme topic we're exploring. (Rump is for our JOURNEY unit, and The Giver is for our LIBERTY unit.)  Our read alouds provide rich material to talk and write about, and a common text to use for modeling various skills I want to teach.  The read aloud becomes a mentor text for students' own writing and a pathway to study authors' decisions about structure, word choice, characterization, etc. We've Skyped with authors of read alouds and have learned about their writing processes and inspirations.  I can't imagine teaching language arts without a read aloud.

     I've cried and laughed with my students over read alouds and tortured them with
cliffhangers.  We've debated what makes a good read aloud and started series that inspired them to keep reading.  We've argued over our favorite characters and wondered about what might happen after the book ends.  I've perfected various voices for different characters and tweeted authors about what kids think of their books.  A social action project at our school was inspired by a read aloud (A Long Walk to Water).  I am an audio book fanatic, so I, too, still find a way to be read aloud to; I'm listening to David Sedaris narrate his own humorous essays in Me Talk Pretty One Day, which has kept me laughing aloud on my commute to and from school.

     Reading aloud to my own children and to my students is imperative to me as a mom and educator.  Memories are made.  Communities are built.  Writers are inspired.

     One of my students, Cassandra, wrote a Slice of Life about how a read aloud was a gateway into truly loving reading.  You can read it here.

     At the end of our conversation last night, Libby said, "I don't know what it's going to be like to parent someday or what to do,  but I know one thing for sure  I will have to do for my kids: read aloud to them."

What I Know For Sure:  If that's what Libby does, a new generation of readers will be born!

 P.S. I missed the #ReadAloud Twitter chat with Steven Layne on the 11th, but I reviewed it later.  Take look here if you missed it, too.
    

13 comments:

  1. Exactly right, Holly. I love to read aloud to my middle school class now that I'm back in the classroom, and read picture books to my granddaughter's class (I sneak away for that bit of fun.) I read to my own children well into high school. You're making such good memories.

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  2. If we were only allowed 1 activity, or 1 lesson, or 1 subject each day, it would be read aloud for us. It is where we come together, and voyage into worlds unknown. It is where we build community, and begin early seeds of our independence. I'm with you, and Libby. This I know for sure.

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  3. Great post (not just because it echos my beliefs!) and I am glad to read about others who try to always find a way to read more aloud.

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  4. Why is it that the read aloud is almost always the first thing to go in most classrooms? It's always been a non-negotiable for me, too, and one thing I'm now adamant about in my coaching role and as a parent. The only way to get kids to love and keep loving books is to share them with them. I really love your post today!

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  5. Love this slice. Read aloud was always non-negotiable for me as a fourth grade teacher, and now as a librarian. Can I ask how often you see each class for library? I find that with my older students who I read chapter books to, it's taking forever to get through a book. We are reading Flora and Ulysses right now, and only seeing them once every six day cycle is stretching the story out forever! Any suggestions? Also, I'm really interested to hear more about your themed units...have you written about it anywhere on your blog?

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    1. Dear Brittinandsalay (is it Jennifer?),
      I'm not a librarian. It teach 5th and 6th grade gifted ELA. That would be tough to string out a book that long - I'm not sure how you would solve that dilemma. Do you follow Mr. Schu? I wonder what he would say about that since he has older kids visit his library, too. I have the luxury of reading every day with every class.

      I've written about my themed units several times, but not at length on my blog. Most of my writing about it has been for Choice Literacy. Are you a member of that website? If so, you can just search my name. My colleague and I have a Prezi on our empathy unit you can access. It gives some details about it: https://prezi.com/8a046yor1w68/empathy-literacy-contract-walk-a-mile-in-someone-elses-sho/

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    2. Hi,
      Thanks! For some reason I had it in my mind that you were a librarian, sorry. I remembered Mr. Schu saying he read Flora and Ulysses to some of his classes, so I gave it a try...students love the book, but I just feel it's not working. Thanks for the info. I am a Choice Literacy member, and I will be sure to search your name. Happy slicing!
      Jen

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    3. That's okay, Jen! Being a librarian would be another dream job of mine! ;-) I wonder if just short stories would be better. Or picture books. Seeing kids once a week is definitely a challenge!

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  6. Read aloud is wonderful. I finished Crossover recently and haven't found the next book. We have testing all next week. I struggle with students who come and go at different times. I need to have an alarm that goes off for us to gather so that we can get it in while everyone is still in the room. Multi-grades can cause an issue, too. But that all doesn't mean I will ever quite trying to make it work.

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    1. I loved hearing about your experience with reading Crossover to your students and will definitely keep it mind for a future read aloud. I know it's so hard to have kids coming and going to try to fit in a read aloud. It's been SO challenging with testing! Spring is FULL of scheduling changes, so I'm hoping that I can still keep it up!

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  7. I love how you think. I, too, say that reading aloud is a non-negotiable item during the day. I read two picture books a day plus one chapter. Other teachers ask me how I fit it in with all the new obligations. I reply, "how can you not?"

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  8. I want to print off this post and post it all around my school, and send it to every person who makes choices about testing and teaching! Thank you for sharing.
    I had to fight to get my read aloud time back. It is my favorite time of the day. I am currently reading Rain Rein to my students and they are enthralled and ask for it everyday!
    P.S I am super jealous that you are reading The Nightingale! I can't wait ot get my hands on it!

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  9. My favorite parts of the day...when we gather together for a read aloud...especially on the crazy days...

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