Reading Aloud to ELL Students

read aloudA strategic and engaging read aloud experience is an effective way to model fluent reading and develop language, vocabulary and comprehension for ELL students. Here are some steps to making read aloud beneficial for students who are learning English.

1. Choose interesting books that have some words and content new to the students. The choice of book depends on the English level of the student. I would suggest teaching five to ten new words during a read aloud.

2. Activate prior knowledge by finding out what students already know about the topic. In a narrative text have students make predictions about what might happen in the story by looking at the pictures.

3. Preteach new vocabulary by bringing in actual objects or photos of objects from the text. During the reading explain and discuss vocabulary  in context. Encourage students to let you know if they do not understand a word.

4. During the reading make comments and explain ideas in the text. Encourage discussion by asking questions and allowing students to ask questions. Share the strategies good readers use to make meaning of text.

5. Provide a closing activity that provides practice and review of  vocabulary and content. Creating a graphic organizer,  writing and/or drawing  about the story and oral retelling with a partner are some good closing activities.

There are many, many wonderful read aloud books to choose from. Because of the great visuals and cultural content, I like to read aloud to my English language learners from multicultural picture books.

Click here for a list of some of my favorite multicultural picture books.

Informational Reading and Writing with Adventure Brochures

Here is an exciting informational reading activity. Collect a variety of adventure brochures from hotel lobbies and tourist centers. You can also encourage students to collect brochure when they go on trips. Have students choose a brochure of an adventure that interests them. Students can read the brochure and complete the writing and drawing activity. This is a great open-ended activity for literacy centers and also for homework. Click here to download these adventure writing frames.

adventure examples small.jpg

5 Ways to Make Reading Aloud Amazing

Readiread-aloud-quoteng aloud to students is probably the most important activity to instill love of literature and also increase listening, comprehension and vocabulary skills. It is important to read aloud every day to all ages of  students. Here are some guidelines to make your read aloud time engaging and amazing for yourself and your students.

1. Choose books you love. Your enthusiasm for a book will spread to the students.  I love reading books I have just discovered and also favorite classics from my childhood. Some of my favorite books were the Little House Series. I tell them how I would cuddle under my quilt  and read until my parents made me go to bed. Often my favorite books are also some of my students’ favorite books. Click here for a list of some of my favorite read aloud books.

2. Choose high interest books that will capture the attention of the students. If a book is not working, it is okay to stop reading it and get another book. You can tell students are loving a picture book when they want you to read it again and again, or a chapter book when they don’t want you to stop reading. High interest books are the greatest advertisement for reading. It teaches children to associate reading with pleasure.

3. Read from a variety of genres and expose students to different types of literature.  I like to read aloud a different literature genre each month and teach students the characteristics of the genre. Here are the nine literature genres we did: fairy tales, folktales, mysteries, classics, historical fiction, poetry, realistic fiction, fantasies, science fiction. Reading aloud from a variety of informative text should be sprinkled in often.

4. Talk about what you are reading. Children listen at a higher reading level than they can read independently. This is a good way to teach critical comprehension skills. It is important to allow time for class discussion during or after a read aloud. It is also important to share your own connections, opinions, inferences and predictions about the story.

5. Read with expression. It is essential to use a lot of emotion and voice changes when reading a book. Don’t be afraid to be dramatic! One day a substitute teacher in my fifth grade class read from the chapter book I had been reading to the students. When I returned to class the next day, my students were upset and asked me to reread the chapter, because the substitute did not read it the right way. This showed me how much students become accustomed to your voice and your read aloud style. In my class, read aloud time is a bonding experience.

Effective Guided Reading Lessons

guided-reading-groupI believe effective guided reading lessons are the most powerful way to increase reading enjoyment and achievement. I’m super excited to present at the National Guided Reading Train-the-Trainers Institute this summer.

Click here for a Guided Reading Lesson Plan frame and Response Guides for literature and informational text to greatly enhance guided reading lessons and discussions.

A guided reading group consists of 2-6 students with similar reading skills or needs. The teacher decides what concepts or skills to focus on during a guided reading lesson. Each student has a copy of the instructional-level text to read with the support and coaching of the guided reading teacher.

There are three basic components of an effective guided reading lesson:

Before Reading – The teacher introduces the focus skill and the text. Here are some ideas:

  • Build background knowledge about the topic
  • Talk about the title and front cover of the text
  • Generate predictions or questions about what will be in the text
  • Word study: phonics, sight or vocabulary
  • Talk about a reading strategy
  • Picture or text feature walk through the book

During Reading – Students all read a section of the text either out loud or silently depending on the reading level of the students. During the lesson the teacher listens and coaches each individual child as they read aloud, while the rest of the students are reading at their own pace.

After Reading  – Return to the focus skill and encourage deeper level thinking and discussion about the text. Here are some ideas:

  • Ask and answer questions about the text
  • Reread parts of text to confirm thoughts and ideas
  • Discuss use of reading strategies
  • Share favorite passages
  • Discuss the author’s purpose
  • Reread sections that caused confusion
  • Review words: phonics, sight, vocabulary


Retelling Literature and Information Text with Story Gloves


Story gloves are a “hands on” approach for retelling a story with visual clues. Using the story gloves helps students successfully construct meaning from text and also helps them identify the difference between literature and informational text.

Informational Text Story Glove: Talk about the main idea from text then each supporting idea

Literature Story Glove: Talk about the characters, setting, problem, events and ending of the story. (Ending card is on back of glove)

story-gloves-writingHow to Use Story Gloves

  • Modeling: The teacher reads a story to the students then puts on the story glove and retells the story, pointing to the visuals on the glove.
  • Interactive: The visuals for the story glove are placed in a bag. After the teacher reads a story students take turns drawing a visual from the bag and telling about that part of the story. Then the student can attach the visual to the glove.
  • Small Group: Students are divided in small groups with a book and a glove. Assign one student to be the leader. Students read the story together or listen to a story on a tape recorder. Then the leader puts on the story glove and uses it to guide the discussion of the story.
  • Independent: Have story gloves available at the class library for students to use when reading independently or with a buddy.
  • Writing: Have students write the retelling of the story on a paper story glove.

Click here for Story Glove directions, colored images, and writing black lines.

“Something From Nothing” Magic Book


Something From Nothing is a wonderful story about a grandfather who makes his grandson, Josef, a blanket.  As Josef grows and the blanket wears out, the grandfather recycles it, turning it into a jacket, a vest, a tie and, finally, a cloth-covered button. But when Joseph loses the button, even his grandfather cannot make something from nothing.

Magic Book Project
Follow these directions to make a magic book. Have students create a blanket, jacket, vest, tie, handkerchief and button from the same color of construction paper to glue into the sections of the book. Students can draw and tell the ending of the story inside the magic panel. Have student decorate the cover and the inside flaps.

s from n 1

s from n 2s from n 3