Last month I was invited to read a chapter of Surviving Bear Island at the Alaska Literacy Council’s Annual Conference. As I dug into the themes of the conference I discovered that a big focus was the value of reading out loud to students of all ages. The keynote speaker, Steven Layne, had just published a book, In Defense of Read Aloud, exploring the benefits of reading out loud.
When I started teaching English at an alternative school program for at risk teens in the mid 1990’s, I had a classroom full of reluctant and struggling readers and writers in 9th through 12th grades, and I built my instruction around reading out loud.
I read whole novels, short stories and essays to my students and designed writing assignments around our readings. With some of the fiction I read, I’d often stop at a particularly suspenseful moment have the students write the next part of the story and then invite them to share what they’d written.
I did every assignment along with my students and it was then that I discovered that I liked writing fiction.
So, I thought it was fitting that I got read a chapter of Surviving Bear Island out loud to a conference focusing on the value of reading out loud, since the book’s creation is rooted in reading out loud.
Reading out loud to my older students helped some of them to connect with the written word and lessened their resistance to engaging in independent reading.
One of my most memorable read aloud experiences as a teacher was reading Anthem by Ayn Rand. I was team teaching with a very talented social studies teacher who suggested the title. While I read the book and did some writing exercises with the class, he put it in historical context for the students, and then played the Rush album 2112 for the class and did a few lessons on the lyrics as they related to the book.
Do you have any memorable read aloud experiences as students or as teachers?