December 5, 2014

Reading aloud to model voice by Margaret McKanna

Making great children's literature come alive through highly charged read alouds is a wonderful way to model voice. Read alouds are a gift that broadens language experiences in sentence structure, vocabulary, sense of story and character development, and deepens meaningful connections to literature.

Vicki Spandel is a great advocate for the voices of emergent writers. Drawings are full of voice: the size, color, juxtaposition of people and objects tell the "reader" how students feel about a topic. I also think that story telling and story dictating is a wonderful way to capture voice. Spandel also suggests celebrating the collective voice of a class by writing a whole group story, each student adding a new detail and illustrating a page of the book. These books are placed on classroom shelves with other picture books.

Occasionally, I have the privilege of working 1:1 with students who struggle with print. We have a lot of fun rereading passages with different voices, pretending to be a baby or an old man, someone who is very sleepy, a kid who can't stop laughing or can't stop crying, a very serious adult, or the all-time favorite pretending to be someone from Texas or a country western star.

I know a now retired 2nd grade teacher who did dozens of short plays throughout the year. Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock comes to mind. There are so many great trickster tales with surprise twists, fables that teach lessons and really come alive in a student play.These plays were more Readers Theater than staged play. Students practiced the voices of different characters; they also experienced reading fluency and connections with text.

These literary engagements are a great way to build a sense of voice and the emotions and personalities behind a variety of voices. ~ Margaret

(Based on a discussion reply by Margaret McKanna Summer 2013.)

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