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Oral reading

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Last updated by Jill Hammonds

Reading aloud

Gone, hopefully, are the days of reading lessons where students struggled their way through reading part of the text aloud, while the rest of the group supposedly followed along.  But now in, also hopefully, are the days when students collaborate and share online and off, as part of inquiry studies or other class activities.  The ability to read fluently and with approprate expression is an important skill for 21st century learners.  Modern Learning Environments encourage this collaborative way of learning, thus creating great opportunities for students to be engaged in some oral reading from time to time.

My experience of this oral reading in many classrooms, is that dreadful slow monotone reading, and no wonder as this is not an easy skill to achieve the 'easy on the ear' style of reading.  This takes practice, practice, feedback and more practice.  It takes teacher and peer modelling and critique.  It requires deliberate acts of teaching.  Hopefully you have followed this link because you recognise that this is part of your literacy teaching responsibility, and are looking for some ideas to inspire you.

Oral reading practice can be part of your reading rotation with students working in pairs or small groups to share something they enjoyed reading, found interesting, or need for their current inquiry information.  However there are also some great web 2.0 tools and apps that can make the oral reading practice 'rewindable' so that students can self and/or peer critique to improve their flow, speed, modulation, expression, book position for sharing graphics etc.  They can also be used to make running record recording more acurate, easy to record and accessible when you are not busy with a group.

eBook makers

If you want to make the text visible to the audience simultaneously with the oral reading, then eBook tools with a recording function are the most suitable.  Here are some that you can try out.

  • Book Creator - iPad and Android app - Lite version available but you can only make one book so the full version is preferable.
  • Story Buddy - similar to Book Creator but iPad only.  Full version $2.99
  • For those PC users who loved Photostory during the days of Microsoft XP, you can now check out Extra Photo SlideShow FreePhoto Flash MakerWOW Slider or Photomania
  • Voicethread - all platforms and app version also.  No longer free.  Upload your photos or screenshots of text and then record.  Students can provide feedback in recorded or typed form.
  • PowerPoint or Keynote - (You should have one of these on your classroom computers and they're available in app versions also) - Insert photos or screenshots of the text, then use "Insert sound or video" to capture a recording or video of the text being read.  With sound you can record direct onto the Powerpoint or select a sound file from your computer.  With video this needs to be pre-recorded and inserted as a file. 

eBook Readers

Before students make recordings of their own oral reading, they should listen to good examples and unpack what makes for interesting oral reading.  You can check out some commercial eBooks apps or web 2.0 tools.  Here are a few to try: