MAT Blog

Read alouds benefit older students, too.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Nov 17, 2011 3:31:00 PM

Marygrove MAT asks teachers to read aloud to their older students for greater reading success.In her cornerstone text for teaching reading, The Art of Teaching Reading, Lucy McCormick Calkins says there are “only a handful of things” that everyone agrees as being essential for teaching reading. “Perhaps the most important of these is the fact that children need to listen to the best of children’s literature read aloud to them.” Calkins explains that the benefits of read alouds aren't exclusive to younger students. Rather, all readers, regardless of age, can benefit from strategic read alouds as part of their reading instruction.

Many times, as children become older and more proficient readers, the emphasis on read alouds in the elementary classroom wanes. Teachers may tend to have students read to themselves more than reading to them, yet there are multiple benefits that teachers can find in reading aloud to their students:

  1. Teacher read alouds are an opportunity for students to learn and practice advanced comprehension skills, regardless of reading ability.  Advanced comprehension skills, including synthesizing, inferring, and evaluating, are crucial to an intermediate student's reading success.  When strategically taught during a read aloud, the burden of physically reading the text is lifted. Students are able to practice the comprehension skills within the teacher's gradual release of responsibility, which is key as students begin to implement these skills within their independent reading. Additionally, struggling intermediate readers have an opportunity during a read aloud to practice grade level comprehension skills without having to access grade level text.

  2. Students will be exposed to new authors or genres of text. Many students have a list of favorite authors, book series, or literary genres once they are in fourth or fifth grade.  Using read alouds, teachers can provide exposure and pique interest in books students wouldn't necessarily choose on their own.  It is also a great way to highlight similarities between certain authors or discuss the plot across several books in a series. Each read aloud is an opportunity for teachers to add to a student's reading repertoire.

  3. Discussion during a read aloud session promotes collaborative learning and increases comprehension. Teachers can establish multiple cooperative structures so that students can talk in pairs, between small groups, or as a whole class about the reading. One such structure, think/pair/share, asks students to first independently consider a comprehension question, share their answer with a partner, and then participate in a small group or whole class discussion about their thoughts.

For more ways to engage students of all ages for optimal reading comprehension, download our best practices guide on K-6 Reading Comprehension, today!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, Marygrove MAT, read alouds, strategic read alouds for older students

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