Making the most of your read aloud

Kriscia Cabral

Growing up I was a fan of all things school. I went every day. I listened and followed directions. Yes, I was 'that' student. It wasn’t until college that I really turned the page and started asking the question “Why?” about the information I was learning. It is because of this inquiry that I have landed in the position I am in today.

My name is Kriscia Cabral. I teach a combination 4th and 5th grade class in a San Diego suburb called Poway. I’ve been working for the Poway Unified School District for eight years. Over time, I’ve grown as an educator, as learner, as an individual. Each year brings new reflections and learning experiences I look at as growing opportunities. My goal is to teach my students to think for themselves, ask questions, and teach me something new. I look at my role in the classroom as their motivator, their supporter, their partner in learning.

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Every year I make the attempt to alter my voice to become characters in stories that I read to the class. Every year I try to set the tone for our reading with pictures, lights, and sounds. Every year I some how fall short. I either forget the dialect I originally used, I play the wrong kind of music in the background, or I’m honestly just having an off day.

Being a mother of two children, I turned to audio books for my reading because my time is so limited. If you haven’t heard a book via audiobooks or iBooks, please do give it a try. They give different voices to characters, and the music matches the time period. The book comes alive in the classroom. The kids feel as though the characters are upon us as their voices hail within our classroom walls. Connections and emotions come alive because students feel like the book is real.

Besides the benefits listed above, I’ve found other innovative ways to use audiobooks in the classroom. Many of my students work at their own pace. There is a checklist they follow throughout the week. If there is a reading assignment on the list and some students are ready to read and others are not, they can take the Bluetooth speaker and my device into another room to read and follow along without me being there. This of course can only happen after modeling and expectations are set, but is such a sight to see the story going off at different times throughout the day.

Often times we just listen to the chapters as a class. The sound of characters voices and the steady flow of the readers is quite soothing. It is a nice auditory reminder for when we go back and read it ourselves without the audio.

The kids enjoy the sound and authenticity. I enjoy the variety and opportunity to truly bring the book to life in the classroom. Listening to audiobooks in class is not the only way we read aloud. It is however, one way that has sparked the reading bug for my students. It’s an innovative way to share the love of learning.

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