Reading aloud to small groups of children is considered as a teaching tool that is gaining popularity. Hence, as an individual that has the role of both a teacher and a reader, it is of importance to learn from experience gained during read aloud sessions. Personally, through the read aloud session conducted with a group of five children, I have been able to assess my capabilities in holding such an activity. In relation to this, I was not only able to realize both my strengths in speech clarity and book selection, but I was also able to experience certain challenges that one might face.
Therefore, based on my personal assessment of how I did during the read aloud, which was mainly positive, I have realized the importance of reading aloud and what I must do in order to become even more effective in doing such a task.
Read Aloud Assignment: Personal Reflection
Reading aloud, a process wherein a story is presented or told to a group through oral means has been known to have become more popular as of late and has even been considered to be a vital tool in teaching (Booth, 1992).
Although is it quite a well known fact that reading aloud may be practiced for groups of different ages, it is also rather perceivable that children are among those that benefit most from such events. The reason for this is that children most often have limitations regarding their capability to read and comprehend, which means that having someone else to tell a story for them broadens the number of stories or books which they may learn from and possibly appreciate (Booth, 1992). With such a reason it is not difficult for one to realize how vital read aloud sessions may be for the development of children. And in this sense, it is of importance to a teacher and a reader to reflect upon read aloud sessions to be able to improve and become even more effective in reading aloud.
During my last attempt at reading aloud, I was able to present a book to a group of five children which were of different ages albeit the differences were minimal. Specifically, the group was composed of John, Shawn, Mackie, Michelle, and Jeff. The children were from four to six years old. Aside from similarities based on age, the children were from the same community. The book that I have chosen was suited for such a group of children and as required was entirely multicultural. The book used is entitled Our Big Home: an Earth Poem, and was written by Linda Glaser. Aside from the fact that the book was chosen for being multicultural for it was centered on the how humans in general are linked to the different aspects and components of the planet, the book was also an appealing choice due to the fact that each portion of the book is beautifully illustrated and is colorful which is of value in maintaining the interest of the children. Also, since various poems on humans and the environment comprise the book, the children were expected to develop a greater level of curiosity since more than a single topic would be presented.
In the read aloud, the basic process was used to ensure optimal effectiveness. First, the children were called forth and grouped together in a calm and pleasing manner. Afterwards, I presented the book and introduced the general topics which they may find to be interesting and exciting during the read aloud session in order to increase their anticipation and to build up interest, attention, and curiosity as well. In reading the book, I made sure that I was at a good distance from the children so that the illustrations and the words may still be seen by the group. In addition, the height of the book was also made sure to be at a good level so that everyone in the group will be able to see it clearly. It was also important to hold the book with a stable hand so that the children would not get annoyed. Throughout the reading process, a steady pace was maintained so that each word and each concept that was presented were understood. In order to further increase understanding, the responses of the children were asked from time to time during the read aloud process. In general, the read aloud in its conclusion, may be considered as a pleasing process for all the participants.
Since the process planned for the read aloud was generally effectively carried out, the reaction of the children to the session was mainly positive. For one, during the read aloud, as previously pointed out frequent breaks were made after each page was presented so as to gain insights into the reaction or interest of the children to the story and how it was told. Most of the time, the children responded by asking questions of where do certain animals drink and how do such animals drink. Besides that, children were also curious if it was indeed a good thing to share the planet with animals and such questions were addressed accordingly. Since the children were responsive to the book and the details that was presented, probably also due to the colorful illustrations presented on each page, then it was proven that throughout the read aloud, the children were mostly interested. During certain times though, Jeff started to irritate his seatmate by doing various things. Thus, it is possible that one of the children was not as interested as the others.
Personally, since the read out session may be considered to be a success, I have realized my strengths in leading such an activity. A personal strength that I have identified is my clear voice and efficient pace in reading. Since the children did not make me repeat any part and was able to give appropriate response during the read aloud then it is most probable that they have understood each word that I have said. In addition, to being able to speak and relay the contents of the book clearly, another personal strength in relation to the read aloud is based on choosing the right book for the activity. Not settling for the easiest way out, which is by choosing something most familiar to children due to popular characters, my approach in finding an appropriate multicultural book was focused on what may be learned from reading it. Aside from such a goal, I also made sure that the book was indeed for children by viewing reviews about it, focusing on the target age and how the illustrations throughout the book are drawn or presented. Again, since the interests of most of the children were maintained and they evidently looked at the pictures with amusement and curiosity, it is undeniable that book selection was a success.
Although it is important to realize and reflect on one’s strong points in the read aloud, it is also of equal significance to remember the aspects of the activity which made it challenging. In relation to the difficulties faced during the activity, the most immediate memory that comes into mind is Jeff’s disruptive behavior. Although the behavior was quite sporadic and Jeff was indeed attentive during most parts of the read aloud, it cannot be refuted that there is a possibility that Jeff was not interested with certain parts and thus irritated his seatmate in order to keep himself occupied. The challenge of such an event is that such a disruptive behavior grabs the attention of the other children and not of the two alone. Thus, the problem with handling such children is that choosing from different approaches in controlling them may end up with unexpected results (Booth, 1992). In my case though, I opted to calmly tell Jeff to stop what he is doing and just focus on the interesting things being told just like his peers.
In general, through the experience, I have also thought about what I may further improve upon to become even more effective the next time a read aloud is to be done. For one, although I believe that my tone, volume, and pacing in presenting the book was generally effective, I also sense that I may still improve in terms of how feelings may be efficiently conveyed through words. If emotions are represented in the best possible way in terms of reading, then the interest of children may also be further maintained. In addition, developing methods of coping with certain challenges during the read aloud session may also be an advantage if developed. In this sense, even if troublemakers within the group make their presence felt, then methods may be used so that such children will be successfully managed without slowing down the session or irritating the other children as well. Hence, even though the read aloud conducted may be perceived as a general success, there are still points and issues wherein I may improve upon and be better prepared for.
Since read aloud sessions are of importance to children, as from it they are able to encounter certain thoughts for the first time and even initially trigger the development for a liking towards literature (Peterson and Swarts, 2008), I have realized that read aloud sessions must be approached and conducted in the best possible way. As a teacher and a reader, reading aloud to groups of children are both stressing and gratifying at the same time. Read aloud sessions may be stressing due to thoughts of how the activity will be received; on the other hand, it is gratifying when one realizes that the children are genuinely interested and are benefiting from the activity. Therefore, every teacher should be prepared for and be able to best conduct read aloud activities, not only to be capable in one important tool for teaching but also to positively influence the intellectual development and awareness of children.
Booth, D. (1992). Stories to Read Aloud. Ontario, Canada: Pembroke Publishing Limited.
Peterson, S.S. and Swartz, L. (2008). Good Books Matter: How to Choose and Use
Children’s Literature to Help Students Grow as Readers. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
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