Sunday, July 8, 2012

How to Use Read-Alouds in Elementary School By Dorit Sasson

Elementary teachers, especially those teaching young ELLs (English Language Learners), are hungry for learning how to teach reading. Teachers can use read alouds to teach letter-sound correspondences, words, sentences, and eventually, other stories.
Oral Instruction and Read-Alouds
Oral instruction enhances the process of early literacy by providing direct explicit instruction on reading, thinking and learning strategies, word and meaning recognition, and early reading skills. While every teacher's approach to oral work differs, the principles for strengthening an at-risk performance in the early stages of a read-aloud remain the same.
Identifying the Type of Read-Alouds
Teachers begin by identifying the type of read-aloud (expository or narrative) and how much oral work will be done prior to the read-aloud. As the teacher reads the story, s/he encourages students to predict. Non-verbal clues such as gestures, and verbal clues such as pictures, help facilitate the process of reading the story aloud. Discussing vocabulary is an important linking stage between hearing words and seeing them in their contexts before students have the necessary reading skills to acquire vocabulary independently.
Teaching Vocabulary
Using the popular read-aloud Bear Snores On, [Karma Wilson, 2003] the teacher presents new vocabulary by showing the cover. and asks "Who is 'snoring'?"
While reading the story, teacher refers to the word snoring using guiding questions: "Where is the bear snoring?" "Who comes into the cave when bear is snoring?"
Building Emerging Literacy Skills
The look-read-say method (otherwise known as the whole word approach) helps ELLs learn early decoding and early reading according to word patterns which were previously introduced in the read-aloud. It is up to the teacher to choose 4-6 target vocabulary that can be explicitly taught from sound and meaning.
  • Stage 1: the teacher presents the word in a sentence strip.
  • Stage 2: The teacher says: "The word X sounds like Y."
  • Stage 3: ELLs hear the pattern.
  • Stage 4: Students say the word and spell out the word.

Predicting the contents of a read-aloud is an important pre-reading technique. It should follow the vocabulary presentation stage. ELLs with limited oral vocabulary can supply a few words. Later, they can confirm their predictions in terms of plot, characters, and story sequence. Modeling predictions provide discussions from which student predictions play a crucial role.Read-alouds represent an appropriate oral language program suitable for the language learning development of early literacy and second language learners. The read-aloud is not completely an oral experience. Teachers should connect the oral experiences with early reading components of early literacy
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Dorit Sasson is a freelance writer, educator and founder and director of the New Teacher Resource Center.
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