10 Reasons Why You Should Read Aloud to Your Students


Reading aloud to your students has so many benefits.  Students learn how to be better readers by listening to others read aloud to them.


Research shows that reading aloud to your child or students is the single most important activity for reading success (Bredekamp, Copple, & Neuman, 2000).   Reading aloud is the first step toward building reading comprehension skills.  That’s why I hate seeing it squeezed out of the crowded daily schedule in so many classrooms.  Before you take out your daily read-aloud, consider these benefits.


Establish a sense of community with shared experiences.  One of the goals during the first few weeks of school is to bring your students together as a community.  This can be a challenge for students who are meeting for the first time and come from different home situations.  I know of no better way to begin building a community of learners than to bring them together for a read-aloud.  Listening to a story gives your students a shared experience. You’ve just given them something they have in common.  For the rest of the year, you can say, "Remember when we read about . . . "

Build background knowledge.  Our students come from such varied backgrounds we don't always know if they have the schema, or background knowledge, to understand the topic you’re about to teach.  You can build that background knowledge with your read-aloud texts.  Not only are you giving them basic background knowledge you’ll be gaining a better understanding of your students' past experiences.  Through the discussions, you’ll be able to assess how much experience they’ve had with this topic. 

Acquire vocabulary.  Our listening vocabulary comes first.  We learn so many new words when we're listening.  When you’re reading aloud, make sure you take time to point out a few important or interesting words. You can even jot the word onto a sticky note, along with the definition, and/or sample sentence.  Stick that word on a “Words We Love” poster.  You’ll be surprised how many times your students will visit that poster and begin using the words in their discussions, or even their writing.  Your students will soon start listening for new words and offering suggestions for your “Words We Love” poster.

Advertise great books and authors.  Kids love to read the books you've read aloud to them.  They want to experience the story or characters again.  Sometimes you need to choose a book that is one of a series, or by an author who has written other books at the same level.  Try to have some of these books available for your students to check out to read on their own.

Model fluent reading.  Kids learn from role models.  As you read you'll be showing them how good readers have a good pace and their voice shows an understanding of the text.  Make sure you’re modeling fluency in both fiction and nonfiction text.  

Model thinking strategies.  Reading aloud is the best time to show students what good readers are thinking as they read. As you read each day, pick one thinking strategy.  Once in a while, pause in your reading to tell students what you’re thinking.  Tell them something you’ve figured out from the clues the author has given, or the details that helped you figure out the main idea.  It might help if you plan the think-aloud moments ahead of time. Mark the spots you want to stop and share your thinking.


Give students access to quality literature in a wide range of genres.  We all have our favorite genre. Sometimes students don't know that other genres even exist.  Make sure you choose read-alouds from many different genres.  You never know when you'll spark new interests in your students.

Introduce new topics, concepts in science, and social studies.  Picture books are a wonderful way to introduce new topics and concepts in the content areas.  Not only do you get to discuss the facts, events, and information, you'll see which students have strong or weak background knowledge in the area.

It’s fun!  Students connect reading to an enjoyable experience.  How many of you still remember one of your teachers reading aloud to you?  I think if you ask any adult they will tell you that the read-aloud time is one of their fondest memories from elementary school.



COVID 19 Update, July 2020

With most schools looking at beginning the school year with distance lessons, some publishers have given permission for their books to be read online.  School Library Journal has compiled a list of publishers' websites.  You need to check with each publisher to see if reading one of their books online is allowed.

Click on this image to go to this extensive list of publishers.



Two of my favorite books to read aloud at the beginning of the school year are by Patricia Polacco.  You can click on each image below to check out the free activities for these wonderful books.


T

When Lightning Comes in a Jar, by Patricia Polacco, is a wonderful book for the beginning of the school year.  The story about a family reunion is the perfect way to begin student stories about their families. Your students will learn about the importance of books as you read about Aunt Chip.   Aunt Chip knew there would be consequences when her town knocked down the town library.





                          Studies show that reading aloud to your students will help them become better readers.







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Get Your Writers Organized!

Learn how to make your own writer's folders.  Super simple and super effective way to help writers stay organized.





Using writing folders saved my writing block.  It's so frustrating (for me and the students) to be in the middle of a writing project, only to have a student say, "I can't find my paper."   Writing folders have helped us all stay on track and organized!

In late summer, as soon as Walmart and Target stock their Back-to-School aisle I look for their specials on pocket folders.  I can usually find them priced at 10 for $1.  That's when I put my writing folders together. They are a super handy way for students to keep their writing projects organized.  Putting two folders together gives you 4 pockets, which is perfect for the steps in the writing project. 

What I love the most about these folders is they are so easy for the students to use.  Whether they're working on their pre-writing with graphic organizers, drawing a picture, or working with a partner during the revising stage, they can store all of the pages they need in a writing folder.  

The pockets hold everything they need as they work through the writing process.  The first pocket holds the writing prompt, organizers, sketches, or anything else they need to begin planning their writing piece.  

The second pocket holds the pages they use for writing the first draft of their writing.  This pocket can also hold any notes or special instructions they need for a particular writing assignment.  As they move through each step of the process they move their paper to the next pocket.  

Writing folder.  A pocket for each step in the writing process - prewriting, drafting, revising/editing, and publishing.


The center of the folder (between pocket 2 and 3) is a great place to affix any writing tips or lists the writer may need.  I like to include characteristics of the traits of good writing, along with common synonyms and homophone lists.


Writing folder, the center holds writer's tips and lists.

The third pocket is where students keep their writing as they work on revising and editing.  The pocket can hold any checklists the writer needs as they work on improving their writing.  


Writing Folder,  pockets for revising/editing and publishing

The fourth and final pocket will hold whatever the student needs as they work on publishing their piece of writing.    After the final copy is finished, either rewritten by hand or printed from a computer, it can be placed in this pocket.  The students turn in their entire folder when it's ready to be evaluated.  It's nice to see all of the parts of the writing process as you evaluate their final writing.  

Once this writing project is completed, the pieces of work for this writing process can be stapled together.  It's a great way for students to see how their writing grew and improved throughout the writing process. This completed packet can be kept in a portfolio until the end of the year.   

The folders can be stored in a box or basket. Storing the student writing folders in a central location makes it convenient for both students and the teacher.  I often look through the folders to check on a student's progress.  One of the best things about these folders is fewer students mysteriously lose their papers through the writing process. 

Making the Writing Folders

To make the writing folder you need:
  • 2 pocket folders without the center prongs.
  • long-arm stapler
  • pocket labels for Pre-writing, Drafting, Revising/Editing, and Publishing.
  • Optional for the center,  writer's tips and word lists

Writing Folder,  Using two pocket folders and a stapler you can easily make folders that will keep writers organized all year!

Open the folders and put them together with the pockets facing each other.  Staple along the fold, from the outside folder.  That way, the staple ends will be on the inside of the finished folder.   The folder should open up so you see two pockets, then the blank center section, and finally, two more pockets.

Now you can add a cover, the pocket labels.  The blank center section is a great place to add any word lists or writer's tips your students might need.  These references are handy for your students to use all year.
 

Writing Folder, printable labels, cover and writer's tips and lists
 

Another option is to laminate the pocket folders before you staple them together.  If you choose to do this, make sure you add the labels, cover, and writer's tips and lists before you laminate.  After you laminate them, staple the two folders together. You may be able to use the laminated folders for two or three years.

The printable labels, tips, lists, and folder covers are included in my Writer's Folder and Checklists resource.  It has lots of choices for the cover, plus checklists your writers can use when they're revising and editing their work.  


Writer's folder with Checklists



Find out how you can keep your writers organized with these easy-to-make folders.  All you need is two pocket folders and a long-arm stapler.  The four pockets are great for holding all the papers student writers need as they work through the writing process;  prewriting, drafting, revising/editing, and publishing.  Your students will be so organized they'll be able to complete their writing projects on time!




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