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Reading with a chaotic class



Anyone got good ideas for strong class reading with about 22 ESL students? I have kids who sulk if they can't read all the time, kids who are inaudible, and kids who think I'm making fun of them if I correct pronunciation. Even after a lot of clear direction, no one follows along, or knows where we are when they get called on.

I've tried having them read in pairs or groups, and they like that better, they certainly look better doing it. But they read quickly, ask each other inane questions, and score lousy on the reading comprehensions our program provides.

Tricks? Ideas? I'm going crazy.


a thing or two

Having kids read orally round robin style is not considered a "best practice." It would be better to have the kids read in pairs or on their own. Guided reading using a recording is also a way to read as a group. You could also read orally.

I have an overhead with two columns: big questions and little questions. The little questions are found in the text like, "What did Hansel use to mark the trail when his dad led him into the woods?" The big questions are not so easy to answer. They require students to think on higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy. The answers are not necessarily in the text although the students must use the text to formulate the answer.

In a book called Memorizing Strategies published by Scholastic there is a question spinner I have used with small groups. Kids read a piece of the assignment then operate the spinner. The indicator lands on summarize, question, clarify & elaborate, or predict. The spinning student must perform one of these tasks. These strategies make the students do more than the minimum response to what they read.


Forget about Reading Level - Think INTEREST

You failed to identify the grade level you teach and the population of students you have the privilege to work with. If they are students in an urban setting think of using texts written by Sharon Draper especically Forged by Fire. It's a high interest level book on a 4.7 reading level. Every child who hears this story or reads it automatically loves to read as a result.



I teach 6th grade in a poverty stricken, Eng Lang Learner classroom & I've had days like you mention... It's easy to go crazy... I agree that choosing pieces that grab their attention & interest will help. I start my year teaching biographies (because I have to teach genres and I find this the most boring so I like to get it over with!) I use books about Tupac, Oprah, Hillary Duff, Will Smith, etc. They LOVE learning about popular celebrities so they are more into learning about non-fiction. That was back in August & they still beg me to read biographies to them. I'm amazed! I use it to get the other subjects to integrate reading into their classes now- Science reads about a scientist in spare time, Math reads about inventors, Social Studies has a ton they can read & so on! I have to go get those books for those teachers, but they do read about famous people. :)
As for pronounciation/making fun of them- I tell them that my job is to help them. I chose my job b/c I want to help them. I also copy short stories with a word I don't know (even a name) that way they can see & hear how I work through that. I explain that even I don't know everything and I think that helps them realize we are trying to help them. I also do poem of the week. I start out with very easy poems and only focus on fluency and work up to famous poems. By the end of the week, they are experts at the poem & it helps their self-esteem. I read aloud, have them read aloud, choral read, and group read. I think they all offer something good.
Even if you've already tried these things, don't get discouraged! :)


LA/Math/ESL 6-8

Start class with short pattern poems that you read to them, then choral read, then have individuals read. These are also good for them to write to..