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Should students read out loud in class?

I have worked with thousands of student over the past twenty years who lack basic critical reading skills. Some of this can be attributed to a lack of reading outside of school. However, I have come to wonder if some of the basic reading experiences students have in school lead to passive and non-critical reading in the future.

Do you remember being required to read out loud in class? What was that experience like for you? I believe that for many students it is very stressful experience. The goal for most students is to get through the reading without making a mistake in pronunciation. They will read as smoothly as they can until the teacher lets them know they are done. Having successfully made it through their section of reading, they breath a sigh of relief and relax now that they know they won’t be called on again. However, if you were to ask them what they just read, I bet the majority of students would not be able to tell you. Comprehension was not their focus, their focus was on not sounding like a poor reading in front of their peers. I believe that those reading out loud experiences in classroom contributes to students’ passive reading. Students who read passively have little hope of getting much value out of a post-secondary education.

When I work with students on critical reading skills, I also have them read out loud. However, after they have read a few sentences, I’ll stop them and cover up the page. “What did you just read?” The student often looks surprised when they can’t tell me what they just read. Those that answer typically miss the key idea the author was conveying. I keep it light. We laugh at the situation and begin to work on ways they can engage more with the text for better comprehension.

What does engaged active reading look like and how can parents support their children in developing these habits?

To be a great critical reader is to engage in a conversation with the author. How can we have a conversation with the author? By asking questions. If you have read my other posts, you will notice a theme around the power of questions. Questions engage our intelligence and curiosity. The key to powerful reading is to ask questions which direct us to gaining insight into the author’s meaning and intent. Questions help us to understand when we are on the right track and when our ideas about the author’s purpose need to be adjusted.

Reading out loud in class is really not the problem. The problem is failing to engage with the student while they are reading. The student needs to feel safe to admit what they don’t understand and be encouraged to get curious and ask questions. Questions are not for students who don’t know how to read well. Questions are the tools that great readers use to create meaning. Check out these great strategies for reading out loud in class from an article in Education World.

  • Strategy 1: Think about the story. “When I read the story, I stop at various points. My students and I then discuss what’s happening and what we think will happen next.”
  • Strategy 2: Map the characters. “As we read the story, we continually refer back to what we already know about the characters and add new information. The children make predictions based on this information.”
  • Strategy 3: Map the story. The story map includes information about the characters, setting, problem, main events, and resolution. The students review the story map before reading a new chapter.

You can help your children to develop much better reading skills by engaging them in conversations while they read. It can be fiction, op ed articles, blog posts, or whatever interests them. Resist telling them the answers. Instead, ask questions and go on a journey with them.

Check out these articles if you are interested in learning more about different perspectives on reading out loud in class.

Reading out loud in class is a complete waste of time.  Ken Wilson
Reading out loud. Is it worth it? Education World

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  • SARAFror on July 19, 2019

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