Margin Notes

THE POWER OF THE READ-ALOUD

Jan
16

Read-Alouds are a powerful, and we believe essential, component to building an engaged and empowered community of readers in the literacy classroom. Frank Seragini and Suzette Serafini-Youngs say it best in their professional resource Around the Reading Workshop in 180 Days:

“What occurs during reading aloud and discussing literature affects how individuals transact with texts independently. How literature is discussed during the read-aloud provides the most concrete demonstration of the ways we want students to read and think on their own and in small groups. If things don’t happen during whole-group instructions, why would we expect them to happen when we send students off on their own to read?”

When we are reading aloud, we want our students to be engaged and captivated. Anne Elliott and Mary Lynch, in their book Cultivating Readers, discuss the ways students are drawn in by a read-aloud: “Students need to hear and see a reader who reads with great pace, tone, phrasing, expression, and intonation.” They also explore the many purposes a read aloud can have in our classrooms:

• Exposure to different genres
• Reading for enjoyment
• As a mentor text for writing
• For making thinking visible
• As opportunities for dialogue and discussion about rich text and topics
• As fuel for higher-order thinking questions

Knowing our purpose, selecting quality texts, planning how the read-aloud will benefit the readers in front of us, and responding to the “teachable moments” that arise during the authentic discussions all work together in creating a community of readers in our classrooms.

When selecting a read-aloud for your classroom, keep in mind all of the rich, quality types of text that are available aside from an engaging full-length novel:

• Sections from novels
• Non-fiction
• Poetry
• Short stories
• Images
• Articles
• Videos
• Comics
• Infographics
• Artwork
• Picture Books

To help you get started in exploring options for read-alouds in your classroom, we put together this Read-Aloud Padlet of resources that includes a variety of texts you might consider. If you are interested in learning more about how read-alouds can contribute to growing an engaged community of readers in your classroom, we suggest checking out the following:

Article: “The Power and Promise of Read-Alouds and Independent Reading” by The International Literacy Association
Blog Post: “Never too old: Reading aloud to independent readers” by Donalyn Miler
Blog Post: “Reading Books Aloud – Teaching Readers, Knitting Hearts” by Valinda Kimmel
Podcast: “Why Read Aloud Matters” with Rebecca Bellingham
Podcast: “A Novel-Approach Read Aloud” with Kate Roberts

As always, if you are looking for support or want to chat further about how to use read-alouds in your classroom, please send us an email!

Guest Writer Devin McLaughlin Recommends Warcross by Marie Lu

Aug
01

Every locked door has a key. These words have stayed with Emika Chen since the moment her father said them. Ever since his death, she has been dealing with debt and struggling to make ends meet. The story begins with Emika, bounty hunter and hacker, mere days before eviction, hunting down petty criminals in the hopes of scoring some extra cash.

When she is not hunting criminals, Emika, along with the rest of the world, spends her time escaping reality and living in Warcross – a virtual world created by 21-year-old tech mogul, Hideo Tanaka. On the opening night of the annual Warcross Tournament, Emika decides to hack into the game and attempt to steal a power-up in an effort to one day sell it for real cash.  This starts her on an exciting adventure, beyond her wildest dreams.

In the notes about the author, it mentions that Marie Lu was previously an artist in the video game industry and this comes across in every paragraph of Warcross. Her ability to paint a colourful dystopian future is matched by few other authors and the opportunities to apply this to lessons on descriptive writing are endless. Despite many claiming this is Ready Player One meets The Hunger Games, Marie Lu has managed to create something both unique and like Warcross itself, addictive.

I am already using this book as a read-aloud to grade 7’s and 8’s and they are begging for me to keep reading every single day. Whether you are a fan of action/adventure, video games, or incredible world-building, there is something in Warcross for just about everyone. Many students in middle and high school will be pleased to have this on the class bookshelf or used as a read-aloud but, of course, you know your students best.

My name is Devin McLaughlin and I am a middle school Language Arts teacher at Harold Peterson Middle School in Oromocto, NB. I love reading and my favourite aspect of teaching is introducing students to new and exciting books and seeing their reactions as they make their way through them.

 

Restart by Gordon Korman

Apr
06

A bad fall has left eighth-grade Chase Ambrose with amnesia.  He can’t remember anything about his life before the accident.  As he slowly pieces together clues about his life, Chase realizes that he was a star athlete, team captain, and a bully.  He is horrified to discover that people are afraid of him.  As he becomes reacquainted with his two best friends, Chase wonders what they ever had in common.

Sidelined from the football field by his concussion, Chase begins spending time making videos with one of his former targets, Brendan Espinoza.  He joins the video club and finds himself facing the wrath of Shoshanna Webber, whose twin brother was so victimized by Chase and his friends that he left home to attend music school.

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