National Writing Project

Reading Aloud to Teens Gains Favor Among Teachers

Publication: Education Week
Date: January 15, 2010

Summary: Reading aloud to students isn't just for teachers in the early grades. Increasingly, teachers are reading aloud to students across content areas and grade levels—and getting results. Debra Schneider, a teacher-consultant with the Great Valley Writing Project, is profiled in this Education Week article.


Reading to students in middle and high schools is becoming more commonplace, and some education researchers say more teachers of adolescents ought to be using the same strategy.

In this article from Education Week, Reading Aloud to Teens Gains Favor Among Teachers , teachers discuss their strategies for reading aloud to teens in different content areas.

Some teachers say they read aloud for special populations of students, such as English language learners or students with disabilities, who may have trouble understanding a text. Some teachers have read books to illustrate math instruction, and others to guide students through historical primary sources that are written in a language that is hard to grasp.

And some teachers read aloud simply to make literature come alive.

"The technique is getting attention amid a bigger push for improvement in adolescent literacy, as educators emphasize that literacy is not just a concern for the elementary grades," Education Week reports.

Lettie K. Albright, an associate professor in literacy at Texas Woman's University, presented findings showing that the practice builds middle school students' knowledge in content areas, helps them have positive attitudes toward reading, and helps increase their reading fluency.

The practice isn't without its critics, however. Some caution that a teacher's reading aloud shouldn't become a crutch for students who don't want to read anything on their own.

Read about how Debra Schneider, a teacher-consultant with the Great Valley Writing Project, reads aloud to her 11th grade history students.

Excerpt: Reading Aloud to Illustrate History

Debra Schneider, a history teacher at Merrill West High School in Tracy, Calif., said she uses picture books to supplement the U.S. history curriculum for her 11th graders because such books communicate a lot of basic information in a concise way.

She said she builds her lessons around themes and finds that picture books help her to bring extra content into the classroom, since the school library doesn't have enough books to enable all of her 105 U.S. history students to check out a book on the same theme. She's read to them, for example, a picture book about Japanese internment during World War II.

Ms. Schneider also read excerpts from the 1987 book Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam to her students, and "you could have heard a pin drop," she said.

The students, she said, told her it was much better than having to read about the Vietnam War from a textbook.

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