We are starting a new unit in English right now that involves a read aloud novel that WILL be really good and intriguing but there is some getting used to with the style of language first. This means that although I wish the class was hooked from my first words, there was a lot of uninterested faces today…
How can we make sure read aloud time is engaging for students?
1. Choose the right book. (I know this book will work for the class once we get a few chapters in) I think it’s important to choose a book that is either at or higher than grade level so that they are engaged and maybe it is something that they wouldn’t be able to read on there own.
2. Discuss expectations. I find that in middle school this is very important (elementary kids seem to grab this read aloud time easier). Middle school students sometimes – most times – will choose any opportunity possible to turn class time into chat about the weekend time and read aloud can seem like an opportunity for this if you don’t discuss the reasons and expectations with them.
3. Allow for differences in listening style. Some students need to keep their hands busy, some need to put their head down, some just sit and listen, and some nod along. All of these ways CAN show that a student is listening as long as you have discussed expectations first and they know things like putting your head down does not mean nap time!
4. Give an easy activity for students to complete. Some things you can try are vocabulary hunts, key idea organizers, question developing, short summaries, AB Partner talk, doodle responses, etc. There are many ways to give students a small assignment that keeps them on task without it taking away from the reading experience.
5. Don’t be afraid to pause and ask questions. “What do you think they mean by that?” or another simple question can go a long way in engagement. Students will quickly understand that there is an expectation to be paying attention but they are also gaining a deeper understanding of the text this way.
What do you do to keep read aloud time engaging for your students?
Any suggestions for getting through those (sometimes boring) introduction chapters?