Welcome back to school! I hope you are all settling back into your classrooms and getting to know your wonderful middles. I love this time of year because it feels like fresh beginnings. It can also be a little crazy as we work on getting our new students into our routines. Routines are the life and sanity savers for the beginning of the year. They also play a huge role in creating an effective classroom for the entire year, beginning and beyond!
One of my favorite routines that I love to implement even in the first week is read aloud. You might wonder how read aloud fits into the middle school classroom. Most of the time we think of read aloud with little kids sitting on a colorful rug in an elementary classroom. I’m here to tell you that read aloud is great for our middles too! Here are some of the benefits and power of read alouds in the middle school classroom.
The best way to teach students vocabulary is to teach it to them within the context of books and stories. Vocabulary words isolated from their context can often be confusing for students and rarely help them learn and remember new words. When you read aloud in your classroom, you have the opportunity to present your students with some amazing vocabulary words!
Strategically choose books that you know are full of rich language and allow your students to be immersed in the language. Model using context clues both inside and outside the words to determine meaning. You can also talk about specific words that you find meaningful and important. Read alouds give access to rich vocabulary words to ALL your students, regardless of their reading level.
Models Reading Strategies
Right along with building vocabulary, read alouds also allow you to model great reading strategies! In order to do this, you will need to talk as you read, modeling the strategies that you choose. There are so many different strategies that you can model including; summarizing, inference, citing evidence, connections, vocabulary context, asking questions, visualizing and predicting.
Make sure that you don’t model too many strategies at once. I would choose one to focus on each day or week and really dive deep into that strategy. Have students participate after you have modeled a few times. It is also important to make sure that while you are modeling strategies that you don’t stop too frequently. This can interrupt the flow of the story and leave students more confused.
Improves Active Listening
Choosing engaging and exciting read alouds will help your students improve their active listening as well. Listening is one of those skills we don’t often think about teaching directly, but read alouds is a great way to hit this expectation. I have found that many of my students listen better when they are able to keep their hands busy. I let my students colour or doodle while listening. I love having my students doodle and colour my doodle bookmarks. You can grab them here!
Middle school classrooms can be stressful for many students. There is a lot of work to do and a lot that is expected of students. Allowing students to just listen and think without an assignment, can help to reduce their stress. It is low stakes learning and frees them from the stress of needing to finish an assignment. Don’t let this make you think they aren’t learning though! Just by listening to you read and model strategies they will be going back to their own work with more strategies!
Enriches Classroom Community
One of my favorite things in the world is sharing a book as a classroom. There is something really uniting about discussing and loving a book together as a class. Because you are reading the book, all students have access to the story and you are able to lead some thoughtful discussions to get students thinking. Students will often rally behind certain characters and hope for certain outcomes as a whole class.
You may have some students who disagree and that is great too! This allows you to create a classroom community of respect and listening even while disagreeing. Make sure that you take the time to teach your students how to respectfully disagree!
There are so many benefits to read aloud even in the middle school classroom! Don’t be deceived into believing it is only for Elementary classrooms. There are so many benefits to read aloud and your middles will love it and learn a lot! So go find a great read aloud book and start with your class today! You don’t have to spend a lot of time, just 10-20 minutes will be enough and you will be amazed at how it transforms your class!