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Choral Reading

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Becca Creamer

on 2 May 2013

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Transcript of Choral Reading

By Becca Creamer Choral Reading What is Choral Reading? A detailed look at choral reading, its research-based benefits, and a real-life application. Essentially, choral reading is the act of multiple voices reading aloud together in unison with a whole class or group of students. This strategy requires repeated reading of text out loud, which proves to provide many benefits for both mainstream and ELL students of all ages. Choral reading can be used to help students interpret and become experts of poetry, or it can be used across the curriculum to help students learn subject content. Fluency Development Choral reading has proven to be an effective strategy to improve oral reading fluency skills in students. Through a six week long study of the effects of whole class choral reading in a sixth grade language arts class, Paige (2011) found that when the students read text aloud for 16 minutes per week, significant phonological decoding and fluency gains were made in the majority of the students. With continual practice in choral reading, students are really able improve their reading comprehension, word recognition, reading rate, intonation, and speaking skills (Gangel, 1995). Commonly Used Methods General Steps to Teaching Choral Reading Throughout the year, I would try to have the students engage in one choral reading per day, whether it be with a poem, content text, or simply reading directions in unison. If I choose a poem for students to read, I would present it on chart paper to allow the students to view it throughout the day, and then we would read it together at the end of the day. When choosing poems, I will use a variety of both humorous and serious writings to relate to all students (Farris & Werderich, 2011). I will integrate choral reading into other subjects and have them read together content text sometimes in subjects such as science or social studies. As much as possible, I would have my students read content text that is a week or two ahead of the curriculum. That way, students are practicing their oral language fluency while also developing vocabulary and background knowledge necessary for upcoming content. When its time to teach the content, my students will already be familiar with its basics and I will be able to go deeper into my teaching (Paige, 2011). Washington (1983) brings to mind the simile that a choral reading group is like a choir or orchestra, as both groups vary between reading in unison, in duets, in trios, and in solos to make up the arrangement. There are a variety of methods of arranging poems for choral reading, which students can experiment with over time. Evidently, choral reading is beneficial for English language learners and their second language acquisition. These students are able to practice their English along with other voices, allowing them to hear the correct pronunciation, rhythm, pitch, volume, and tone of English words. McCauley and McCauley (1992) write that with repeated reading of text, ELL students will be able to improve their reading rate and expression, increase understanding, and decrease the number of oral reading errors, leading them to feel more confident. Classroom Application
4th Grade What Does the Research Say? Active Participation Cooperative Learning Self-Confidence Trousdale and Harris (1993), Tompkins (2011), and Gangel (1995) identify the following common methods for choral reading:
Echo reading: a leader reads each line and the group repeats it
Soloist and chorus reading: a reader reads the main part, and the group reads the refrain together
Antiphonal (dialogue): the class divides into two groups, each reading alternate lines
Cumulative reading: One child reads the first line or stanza, and another child joins in as each line or stanza is read to create a cumulative effect.
Unison: the whole group speaks as one

Additional arrangements that can be explored include:
Increasing or decreasing volume or tempo: voices are added or subtracted, the rate is increased or decreased
Accompanied by music, movement, or sound effects Trousdale and Harris (1993) and Tompkins (2011) make note of the following instructional procedure that is commonly used with choral reading in the classroom:
1. Select a text to use. Choose a poem or other short text and copy it onto a chart, SMART board, or make copies for children to read.
2. Arrange the text for choral reading. Teachers work with children to decide how to arrange the text. Various methods should be tried and discussed.
3. Rehearse the text. Teachers read the text with children several times at natural speed, pronouncing words carefully.
4. Perform the text. Students read the text expressively, following the arrangement they have rehearsed. The teacher can tape-record the performance, so children can review it and make revisions if necessary. Choral reading is a strategy that allows all students to be actively involved in their learning. It can be used with a wide age range of students, can be adjusted to meet the skills and interests of individual students, and involves whole class participation. There is common agreement that students who are shy, have weaker reading skills, or are ELLs can take part in choral reading without fear of failure, as their individual mispronunciations are hidden by the overriding voices of the group (Gangel, 1995; McCauley & McCauley, 1992; Paige, 2011; Trousdale & Harris, 1993). A low anxiety environment is created as students are given many opportunities to read with others and they know what is expected of them before they read on their own. Participation of ELL students has also been seen to increase during choral reading with use of additional strategies such as demonstrations, gestures, manipulatives, facial expressions, and movement, which help children start to really “feel” the text and fill in any comprehension gaps they may have (McCauley & McCauley, 1992). Trousdale and Harris (1993) state, “In choral reading, students are not just learning about poetry, students are doing poetry” (p. 201). Choral reading really invites students to directly experience texts by experimenting with different ways to read it and exploring its meaning and structure.

Multiple intelligences are supported in choral reading. Along with expressing verbal skills, students may want express their musical or kinesthetic learning styles by accompanying music, sounds effects, or movement to the choral reading. Students who are visual learners may also draw pictures of objects, characters, or scenes to be held up at different times during a choral reading performance (Trousdale & Harris, 1993). Another key aspect of choral reading is the enhancement of cooperative learning it creates. When planning for choral reading, students really need to work together and be open to each other’s unique ideas to create a successful performance. Trousdale et al. (2010) examined the benefits of talk during choral reading, and found that as students communicated with each other in a small group setting, their interpretations of poems were enriched, deepened, and expanded upon. As students worked in small groups to experiment with ways to read the poem together, try out different methods, and negotiate about how the mood and tone should be communicated, a close-knit group was formed where students felt free to express their ideas and feelings. Students feel valued and motivated to contribute their ideas when a group effort is needed in activities such as choral reading. References Apol, L., & Harris, J. (1999). Joyful noises: Creating poems for voices and ears. Language Arts, 76(4), 314-22.

Farris, P. J., & Werderich, D. E. (2011). Language arts: Process, product, and assessment for diverse classrooms. Long Grove, Ill: Waveland Press.

Gangel, K. A. (1995). Confetti: A crazy, corny collection of choral reading activities for the classroom. Bothnell, WA: Wright Group.

McCauley, J. K., & McCauley, D. S. (1992). Using choral reading to promote language learning for ESL students. Reading Teacher, 45(7), 526-33.

Paige, D. D. (2011). 16 minutes of “eyes-on-text” can make a difference: Whole-class choral reading as an adolescent fluency strategy. Reading Horizons, 51(1), 1-20.

Paige, D. D. (2011). “That sounded good!”: Using whole-class choral reading to improve fluency. Reading Teacher, 64(6), 435-438.

Tompkins, G. E. (2011). Literacy in the early grades: A successful start for PreK-4 readers and writers. Boston, Mass: Allyn and Bacon.

Trousdale, A., Bach, J., & Willis, E. (2010). Freedom, physicality, friendship and feeling: Aspects of children's spirituality expressed through the choral reading of poetry. International Journal of Children's Spirituality, 15(4), 317-329.

Trousdale, A., Bach, J., Willis, E., Hathaway, J., Wood, K., & Fink, L. (2010). “One question leads to another”: The value of talk in the choral reading of poetry. Voices from the Middle, 18(2), 46-54.

Trousdale, A. M., & Harris, V. J. (1993). Missing links in literary response: Group interpretation of literature. Children's Literature in Education, 24(3), 195-207.

Washington, E. M. (1983). Choral reading, an aid to teaching novice oral interpretation students. Communication Education, 32(1), 117-21. There are additional ways that choral reading has been shown to boost confidence in ELLs, students who are hesitant in their oral speech, and students in general who are hesitant to use poetry. Washington (1983) writes about using choral reading as a way to diminish stage fright of students in his oral interpretation classes. As a group self-monitors and constructively evaluates itself, individual members tend to become more confident and competent. As a result of the knowledge gained from working with a group, the individual will be better able to cope with stage fright later on when having to take part in solo performances (Washington, 1983). Gangel (1995) adds the idea that weaker readers will gain confidence in their individual oral reading abilities as they are able to read along and keep up with the whole class, including the more advanced readers. A poet and a teacher wrote about working together to use choral reading in a 5th grade class as a means of getting students excited about poetry. The students initially had an incomplete and unsophisticated view of poetry, but after the choral reading process, they gained confidence and began to realize that they have what it takes to really analyze the meaning, structure, and other elements of a poem and engage in performing it. This even led them to find the courage to create their own choral poetry (Apol & Harris, 1999). I would first introduce choral reading towards the beginning of the school year (during the first couple of weeks). I am assuming that my 4th grade class has a significant number of ELLs in it, and I would have choral reading in mind to help develop their oral language fluency. We could start our language arts time doing a unit on poetry. Choral reading would be the main strategy during this poetry unit as a way to gets students knowledgeable about poetry and comfortable with using it. They have had previous experiences with poetry and understanding rhythm and rhyme, but this will really help them think of poetry in a new way. Routine Day 1: I would choose a poem or short text and model how to read aloud fluently while the students read along silently. Next, I would go over any vocabulary words students may not know to aid in their comprehension. The students would then read the poem aloud with me, practicing it a few times until students get the hang of it. The students would give one final performance of the poem for the day, which I would record. Day 2: I would introduce the different arrangements that can be used during choral reading. This would encourage the students to think about which arrangements convey the meaning of the poem most effectively. We would then practice the poem several times, trying out the different arrangements and deciding as a whole group which one to use. Days 3 and 4: I would give the students a new poem and split them up into groups to analyze the poem together. The students would discuss the poem’s structure, rhythm, and how it should be performed (if movement should be added, the tone and volume to use, etc.) Each group would then present the arrangement they came up with. Another activity I would do is introduce them to poems that could be chorally read with two voices, such as Paul Fleischman’s Joyful Noises: Poems for Two Voices. The students would pair up and practice their parts, then perform them to another partner pair. Last Day: I would give students the opportunity to write their own poems for choral reading. We would choose a couple of poems to read aloud as a class together with a specific arrangement. I would then record the students’ performances and have students compare them with the beginning recording to listen to how much progress they have made. To include parent involvement, I can ask one student per week to work with their parents to come up with a favorite poem that they could bring to class for us to chorally read together. Also, after our unit on poetry and choral reading, it would be fun if we could find a time for parents to come and see our class performance of a chorally reading that we have been practicing.
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