Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Read Alouds in Middle School

As I was getting ready to move up from grades 4-5 to grades 7-8, I had to make some plans to adjust some of my teaching approaches to older students.  One aspect that I love about teaching Language Arts is reading aloud to kids.  Reading great books aloud to kids does so many wonderful things.  You get to model fluency, and it gives you room to discuss all of the elements of literature and reading strategies.

With elementary students, I usually used a mix of novels and picture books for read alouds.  As I was planning for middle school, I remembered a presenter from a workshop I went to years ago.  It was a workshop on balanced literacy.  The presenter was a middle school teacher who said she read the first part of a different novel to her students every week.  If they wanted to know what happened next, they had to pick up the book and read.

After thinking about it, I decided to try this for this year with my 7th and 8th graders.  Every week I will read the first couple chapters of a different book to them.  Occasionally, we may choose to read an entire novel all together.  Reading a couple chapters gives enough plot to discuss characters, plot, literary elements, good introductions to writing, etc.  It also is a fabulous way to introduce kids to different genres and hopefully get them excited about reading. I will have my students record different concepts in their language arts notebook as we read.  We will use some foldables and some just drawing different graphic organizers.

What we have read so far this year:

1. Wonder

The first week of school, we read Wonder by RJ Palacio.  We discussed what makes all of us unique an also how we want to be perceived by others.  I had them write their first essay of the year on how they wanted others to perceive them.

2. If I Stay

Then, we read the first couple chapters of If I Stay.  I won't always choose books that are movies, but I know a lot of times the kids are interested in the books that are movies.  For If I Stay, we discussed the differences between external and internal conflict.

3. The Maze Runner

When we started reading The Maze Runner, this is when I really saw my plan come to life.  The kids were so intrigued with the story from the first two chapters, they voted unanimously to have us read the entire book. I happened to have the audiobook on my iPad, so we are listening to the audio version of the book for about 30 minutes per day.  Of course, some of them went out and saw the movie.  I had a few rush out and buy the book and read it right away.  Some have started the second book.  Ultimately, it got many of them excited about reading.

During the first two chapters, I had my students write down descriptions of the setting and also listen for new words and guess their meanings using context clues.  The boys in the glade have a very interesting set of slang words, but it is a great demonstration of using context clues to determine meanings of words. As we are listening to the audio book, I will have them do some tasks in their notebooks, but most of the time we will listen just for pleasure. We will also probably do some writing assignments using the novel.

How do you use read alouds in middle school?

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