Oral reading fluency is an important skill for students to develop. However, it can be difficult to foster in the classroom. Choral reading is a strategy that can help build fluency by having students read texts aloud together in unison.
When done correctly, choral reading can be an engaging and effective way to improve both fluency and comprehension. In fact, it is listed as one of the best practices, along with repeated reading, for fluency instruction.
Choral reading can be done with the whole class, in small groups, or even with just one student reading while the rest of the class echoes. In addition to being low-prep and easy to implement, the research indicates it has several benefits. In this blog post, I'll share how implementing choral reading can help your readers.
1. Choral reading helps students to develop a stronger sense of rhythm and fluency.
When students read aloud together, they can hear the rhythm of the words and learn to read with expression. While many people believe fluent reading is synonymous with the speed at which students read, the ability to incorporate phrasing and expression are both key to being fluent. Choral reading allows students to hear how the words should sound when read aloud. This can help them to internalize the proper rhythm and become more fluent readers.
A decodable reading comprehension passage can make a great choral reading lesson for younger students. Some classrooms have older students choral read with a given poem of the week. Others use the reading of a text you've identified in advance, such as a class novel study.
2. The strategy encourages engagement by allowing all students to practice reading aloud.
Many students may be shy or reluctant to read aloud in front of the class. This can be especially true for those struggling with literacy or with a low reading level. Choral reading allows all students to practice reading aloud without the pressure of being in the spotlight.
This can be a great tool for keeping students on-task and focused during a whole class novel study. Just be sure all students have a copy of the text. In this situation, an alternative to ineffective strategies, such as round-robin reading, use choral reading. Have one group of readers read one paragraph together. Another group can read the next paragraph aloud. Then return to the first group for the following paragraph. Continue to go back and forth between groups until you've finished the selection. In this way, both groups get plenty of opportunities to read aloud and but no student is singled out to read.
By reading together as a group, students can mask any hesitations or mistakes they may make while still being active participants in the lesson. This can be especially beneficial for students who struggle with confidence in their reading abilities.
3. Choral reading can improve comprehension.
When done correctly, choral reading can actually help improve comprehension. This is because it forces students to slow down and pay attention to the words on the page. Choral reading can also help clarify the correct pronunciation of difficult words or vocabulary in context for English Language Learners and struggling learners.
In addition, having the chance to listen to the text being read aloud can also help build greater comprehension of the text. Students who may not be able to read the words on the page can still follow along. They're also more likely to understand the story when it's being read aloud by the group.
4. Choral reading can be used with any level of reader.
Choral reading can be used with readers of all levels, from beginner to advanced. This makes it a versatile and effective strategy for any classroom. Whether you're working with a group of struggling readers or want to challenge your more advanced students, choral reading can be adapted to meet the needs of any group.
For example, you can use choral reading to help struggling readers by choosing books at their level or below. This way, they won't feel overwhelmed or discouraged and will be likelier to stick with it. You can also provide support by using echo reading and having them do a second read as part of a group after the first group has read the passage aloud. This will allow them to practice reading aloud without the pressure of being in the spotlight.
That being said, you'll want to be sure you do this in a way that doesn't make it clear who the better readers are. For example, you might create a group of students by splitting the entire class in half by even and odd number birthdays.
Conversely, you can use this strategy to challenge your more advanced readers by choosing books slightly above their level. This will help them to push themselves and expand their reading skills.
You can also provide a challenge by having them read ahead of the group and then lead the choral reading. This will allow them to practice fluency and expression while helping lead the group.
Try Choral Reading in Your Classroom
Choral reading is a simple but effective teaching strategy that can greatly impact your students' literacy skills. Next time you're looking for a way to engage your class and help them improve their fluency, rhythm, and confidence, try it! You may just find that it's one of your new favorite teaching strategies.