World Read Aloud Day – We Are Middle School, Hear Us Read!
March 23, 2011
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This post is coming a little bit later than intended, but the message is still important! On March 9th, my middle school students participated in World Read Aloud Day. It is orchestrated by an organization called Lit World, and you can learn more about the event here. You can also follow the organization on Twitter using @litworldsays. To hear how it worked in my classroom, keep reading!
We started two weeks out with a journaling session on the importance of literacy. We brainstormed what our lives would be like both today and a few years down the road if we could not read. In our English Journals, we answered LitWorld’s question: “What would you miss most if you could not read or write?” This time of brainstorming and writing resulted in some really solid classroom dialogue.
The next day, I presented a special read aloud. Using a picture book, I modeled a cold reading, difficult because it was with a text with which I was unfamiliar, a dry reading, and a theatrical reading. I like to use The Fox by Margaret Wild. This title is great because it has a wide variety of emotional levels to be expressed through reading out loud. The themes present are also engaging and contain enough depth for a middle grade audience. Another great book for this activity is Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! by Dr. Seuss. This Seuss book is likely one with which students are less familiar. Additionally, Seuss books frequently provide great examples of why cold readings are not always wise, and previewing is an important read aloud skill.
In the coming weeks we made library visits to check out our own picture books and students practiced reading to each other, practicing their fluency and expression while reading. It was quite refreshing for all of us to spend time with picture books and reading out loud. Can you picture a room full of thirteen-year-olds spread around in groups of two and three joyously meeting the likes of Dr. Seuss, Jan Brett, and Eric Carle for the second time.
When the day of the big even arrived, we paired up with several elementary school classrooms ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade. In these classrooms, my middle school students were placed in groups with two to four elementary students and together they took turns reading aloud to each other. Over the course of a school day, we read out loud for 800 minutes!
Overall, I think we all got a lot out of the event and increased our general awareness the importance of literacy and the fact that it is a skill to which not all privileged enough to have educational access. We decided that we would donate a book to an after school program in need for every 50 minutes read aloud.