Introduction – Modeling fluent reading
Children begin developing their reading skills as soon as parents begin reading aloud to them. With the assistance of voice, intonation, gestures, visuals and controlled speed parents, teachers or capable peers convey meaning through written texts and help learners understand more than they can read on their own. In other words, because language learners have a higher level of listening comprehension than reading comprehension, reading aloud to them at a level slightly above their current level exposes them to texts that challenge their current reading ability and expands their vocabulary. AND, because they have an adult guiding their conversations and answering questions, they can comprehend texts they would not usually comprehend on their own. For more information see: Developing Heritage Language Literacy: Cracking the code vs reading with understanding, Using Stories in Language Classrooms and The Value of reading aloud in Heritage Language Development at https://sites.educ.ualberta.ca/staff/olenka.bilash/Best%20of%20Bilash/dr.bilash_readings_articles.html
Teacher read-alouds also foreshadow for learners what they will be expected to read on their own. By listening to texts read by the teacher students gain confidence in their comprehension so that when they come to that book/text later, or books/texts on similar topics, they will be able to read them more independently – which is why teachers of all grades (yes, even an eleventh-grade teacher!) should still be reading to students aloud. Further, by following along and seeing how the teacher emphasizes different words, pauses at commas and periods, and pronounces difficult words, students can increase their own reading fluency. This simple practice is part of scaffolding challenge in the language classroom, and has real impact on all reading levels.
Stories and books offer access to a larger vocabulary than daily oral interaction and conversation and expose learners to new ideas through Ukrainian. Thus, instead of ‘learning Ukrainian’, learners are ‘learning through Ukrainian’. This engagement immediately changes the students’ interest and attitude toward literacy and its ends. These are the goals of oral literature.
During and after reading-aloud or oral literature teachers can establish two goals for students: 1. To understand the text; and 2. To make personal meaning from the text. Understanding the text can begin with the 5Ws. Asking questions that are appropriate to the level of the text, learner, and language – such as who, what, where, when, why and how – will help to insure that students understand the text. However, most learners find this the least interesting way to demonstrate their understanding. Making personal meaning through discussion or projects is much more effective and typically reveals that students have closely listened to the text and been influenced in a significant way by something therein.
Classroom discussion is essential for making a classroom read-aloud effective. If the teacher is not guiding discussion and providing the vocabulary and context necessary for students to understand texts that are above their independent reading level, reading aloud to students will not build their reading level. To build collaboration surrounding classroom reading-alouds, you need to think about what type of discussions you want learners to have about the texts they are reading. Some ideas follow.
Read-alouds should always be understood as precursors for independent reading. They can be seen as an activity that acts both as a support or scaffold and an experience of pleasure reading/listening.
Engaged reading – Making connections
It is important for students to recognize when they have a thought or idea that is evoked by something they read/hear, and then for them to be able to provide textual support for that idea. This can be done through a task such as Turn and Talk.
Turn and Talk is a reading strategy. After the teacher reads a passage aloud, they say to students “turn and talk” and the students then discuss the passage that has just been read to them.
To assist with this, the following template could be used (projected on a screen, whiteboard, blackboard, or on a classroom or personal electronic/digital device):
First student: “When the book said ________ I was thinking ________ because ________.
Partner: “I agree with you because ___________.” –OR– “I disagree with you because __________.”
To demonstrate making personal meaning students might be asked to produce and share story reviews, learn more about the authors, create posters or brochures or multi-modal projects combining art, music, language and technology. Such concrete creations can be displayed for further discussion and will long be remembered by students.
The following goals and strategies can help you plan and maximize the benefits of the literacy component of your language development program for your students.
Goals for improved language acquisition through read alouds and independent reading
General goal for student reading fluency: Teacher modelling helps students to understand reading fluency or the ability to read words aloud with expression that conveys meaning and understanding of the text. For students to confidently read aloud, they need well-developed word recognition and word attack skills.
Comprehension – By listening to stories students will increase in the use of cognitive strategies to build knowledge from text. This can then be carried forward to independent reading. Evidence of strategy use will be based on frequency, appropriateness and effectiveness of the use of strategies, and the complexity of texts to which strategies are applied.
Activating background knowledge – Read alouds begin with teachers asking students about a title or topic or showing them visuals associated with text. Student recall increases when they know about the topic of a text before, during, and after oral reading, understand the purpose of learning the content as fully as possible, and are given opportunities to link the new content to prior understanding.
Self-Questioning – Questioning refers to students asking or writing self-initiated questions about the content of the text before, during and after oral reading to help them understand the text and topic. The K-W-L is a good example of how to apply this strategy. Students write what they know and want to learn about a topic before a reading and then what they learned after listening to (or independently reading) the text.
Summarizing – Summarizing refers to students forming an accurate abstract representation (summary) of the text after hearing an oral reading of all or a portion of material.
Integrating graphically – Integrating graphically refers to students’ construction of a spatial representation of oral reading knowledge, which may include drawings/sketches, concept maps, diagrams, photos or other visual images.
Structuring story – Structuring story refers to student understanding of setting, plot, character, motives, themes, and their relationships in the read-aloud text.
Elaborative interrogation – Elaborative interrogation refers to asking and answering “why” questions to make connections in the read-aloud text.
Question-Answer relations – This strategy consists of identifying the relationship between a read-aloud text, a question related to that text, and the answer to the question. Possible relationships include: (a) explicit (answer is in the read text itself), (b) implicit (answer is inferred from a sentence or possibly two), and (c) combined information (answer requires integration of read text information with prior knowledge).
Teachers need to provide strategic guidance daily, which consists of:
- modeling oral language through reading aloud
- scaffolding readings, and helping students practice oral reading to become independent readers
- reviewing vocabulary, supporting word recognition, pronunciation, and spelling
- assuring students record outcomes of oral reading progress in their personal portfolios
- have students collaborate within teams and the whole class on comprehension activities
- offer struggling readers small group/one-on-one oral reading opportunities
Readers’ theater can be a motivating way to improve fluency. Students read aloud scripts prepared by the teacher from a text in the Nova collection, and create a play to perform for the class (and even an invited audience, such as students from an earlier grade, or parents).
Guided oral reading OUTSIDE the classroom: anytime oral reading practice and support
- In general, an adult, family member, or peer reads a passage aloud, modeling fluent reading. Then, the student rereads the text quietly, on their own, sometimes several times, and with the assistance of a peer, if required. Next, the student reads aloud, and then rereads aloud the same passage, with encouragement and feedback by the adult or peer. Usually reading the same text four times is sufficient.
- The student reads with a peer partner. Each partner takes a turn reading to the other. A more fluent reader can be paired with a less fluent reader to model fluent reading. The more fluent reader can provide feedback and encouragement to the less fluent reader. Students of similar reading skills can also be paired, particularly if the teacher has modeled fluent reading and the partner reading involves practice.
- A student listens to an audio recording of a fluent reader reading text at a measured pace. The student listens to the recording the first time, and then practices reading out loud along with the recording until the student is able to read fluently.
All these exercises can be done in person, over the computer, telephone or another ICT device. They can be audio or video-taped and also uploaded.
Please refer to the following guidelines, to assist you with incorporating the NOVA 5 and NOVA 6 ORAL LITERATURE ONLINE SUPPLEMENTS into your Ukrainian language program. (These supplements were pre-selected by certified Alberta teachers of grades 5 and 6).