Teachers across the High Prairie School Division kicked off a new semester on Feb. 1, 2019 by celebrating the ten year anniversary of ‘World Read-Aloud Day.’
It was great seeing so many participants across schools and curriculums involved in the event. Read-alouds are valuable activities to bring into any classroom, as they provide “the foundation for literacy development” (Bredekamp, Copple, & Neuman, 2000). Equally valuable, is ensuring opportunities for ALL students to participate in reading aloud in the classroom, despite anxieties, hesitations or abilities. It is important to overcome, in order to build confidence and expand vocabulary.
One strategy that seems to work in ensuring the success of student read-alouds is instilling classroom values at the beginning of the year that include expectations that all students will speak and read from time to time, and that it is okay to make mistakes and even have fun with it. Of course there is a few students in the classroom who get nervous when called upon to read, so on the first couple of read-alouds, tell students they need only read a minimum of one sentence when it’s their turn, but can read more if they wish. Those few students will take you to task on the offer, but not to worry because some of the other students really want the attention, and will gladly read longer passages. Next time through, challenge them to read a minimum of two sentences, and provide positive reinforcement to students.
On World Read-Aloud Day 2019, I had the opportunity to spend three classes with grade 7 Social Studies students at Roland Michener Secondary School, and facilitate the following read-aloud activity:
Activity: Collaborate on a Social Studies 7 video celebrating ‘World Read-Aloud Day,’ in which students read aloud various quotations related to early Canadian history, colonization in North America, and other pre-Confederation events.
Materials: Camera, Tripod, Video Editing Software, History of Canada Quotes
Social Studies Curriculum Outcomes (Alberta):
7.1.1 – appreciate the influence of diverse Aboriginal, French and British peoples on events leading to Confederation
7.1.2 – appreciate the challenges of co-existence among peoples
7.S.5 – demonstrate skills of cooperation, conflict resolution and consensus building
7.S.6 – develop age-appropriate behaviour for social involvement as responsible citizens contributing to their community
7.S.8 – demonstrate skills of oral, written and visual literacy
- Make students aware of ‘World Read-Aloud Day.’
- Tell students they are going to collaborate as a class on a video celebrating the origins of Canada through read-alouds.
- Distribute selected quotations, derived from primary sources, to students. When distributing these, ask students if there is any special requests for a particularly short one, and honour those requests as best you can, as well as any requests for a longer passage.
- Tell students to takes 3-4 minutes to read over their quotations and identify any words they may have trouble with, don’t know how to say or don’t understand. While they are doing this, prepare the camera to record video in a selected location in the classroom.
- Check in with each of the students to see if there is any words they need to know how to pronounce properly for the video.
- Once all students feel comfortable with their quotation, start taking volunteers to appear on camera, and let the fun begin.
- Compile student read-alouds into a video, using video editing software (i.e. Adobe Premiere Pro) and share with students.
Differentiation: Student option to read shorter or longer quotes, Take volunteers for who goes first, Allow a student to read-aloud their piece after class, when the rest of the students leave, if needed.
Alberta Education says literacy “is a shared responsibility among all educators.” Regardless of subject, every teacher should pay attention to ensure they are further developing, strengthening, and enhancing literacy knowledge and skills in their classroom.