High school, college teachers reading aloud to students

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by MIMI JUNG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MimiJungKING5

KING5.com

Posted on March 22, 2010 at 4:13 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 22 at 5:30 PM

Storytime is common practice for teachers and kids in elementary school. But now, many teachers of older students are reading aloud, too.

"I think it's pretty easy when you read to kind of just really focus in on the story and what it's about," said high school teacher Trista Lepore, who reads to her students every day.

She says the story comes alive more for those who listen rather than read it. And she's not alone. Literacy professor Dr. Lettie Albright reads out loud to her college students and her survey shows most middle school teachers are doing this too.

"The majority of teachers responding said they read aloud to students to promote a love of reading and a love of books and the second most frequent answer was to enhance comprehension and understanding," said Albright.

It's not just reading. Math, science and social studies teachers are getting vocal, too.

"What we found was that the read-alouds and the discussion that go along with the read aloud engage the students more in the learning," said Albright.

But not everyone embraces the idea. Robert Pondiscio is with core knowledge foundation, a non-profit that promotes a core academic curriculum.

"In this country we used to learn to read and then read to learn," said Pondiscio. He believes reading aloud to older students strays from that. "The problem is using it all the time. If we're reading aloud to kids because they don't understand or don't have the ability to understand when they read to themselves then reading aloud is really treating the symptom and not the disease."

He believes we should be focused on teaching students to comprehend what they read. But what do students think?

"I just relate better to it. Whenever I'm like reading myself I just lose track," said high school student Parker Evins.

"You might envision it in a different way when somebody else is reading it than you would if you were concentrating on the words yourself," said college student Katherine Barrett.

There's very little research to document the drawbacks or benefits. But Dr. Albright uses an analogy to explain why she believes in reading aloud.

"I think about music students and how they might be able to read a sheet of music and play it, but you wouldn't want them to never go to the symphony and enjoy an afternoon of listening to the music because they can do it themselves," said Albright.

Experts say one thing that is often no longer recommended in high school classes is what teachers call a 'round robin'. Research shows weaker readers get so stressed out about taking turns to read aloud that anxiety interferes with their ability to concentrate.

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