The Power of Reading Aloud in Middle School Classrooms By Timothy Dolan

The Power of Reading Aloud in Middle School Classrooms

—Source: Image by Flickr user Peter Taylor, under Creative Commons
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Four years ago, after I accepted an offer to teach language arts to 8th graders, my teaching partner asked me to read up on a few novels that we would be reading aloud to our students throughout the year. I was a bit taken aback because I assumed we would be assigning readings and the students would complete them on their own.

As we started to map out the year, he asked if I had any suggestions for a novel read aloud. Thinking back to my own middle school years, I suggested the first novel I really fell in love with: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. After reading this book as a 7th grader, my friends and I assigned each other names from characters in the novel. I was Ponyboy. I give a reading survey at the end of the year, and the students consistently choose the 1960s classic as their favorite.

My teaching partner had been using the short story "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes as a segue into the science fiction unit, which focused on Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. After talking with the district reading specialist at an in-service, we decided to try to bring continuity to our entire year with reading aloud. The reading specialist suggested that we find a common thread that would connect all the readings.

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