Literary Techniques: What is Choral Reading?

If you’re looking for a unique way to keep your child engaged in reading over the summer, you might want to consider doing some choral reading at home.  In case you’ve never heard of it, choral reading is a literacy technique that helps students build their fluency, self-confidence, and motivation to read.  It takes a minimum of two people to participate, but the entire family can join the fun! 

During choral reading activities, the teacher is an active participant and helps set the pace and model proper pronunciation.  As participants rehearse a particular passage aloud in unison, they will learn to assimilate the following important reading skills:  (a.) decoding skills, (b.) effective and fluent oral reading skills, (c.) sight vocabulary, and (d.) pronunciation skills. 

It is important to make sure that choral reading is a fun learning experience, so you must find appropriate materials to use.  Rhymes, poetry, and lyrics are especially suited to choral reading because of their rhythm, meter, patterns, rhymes, and characters, but the choice is up to you. 

Here are some simple suggestions to help you get started:

1. Choose material that will be fun to read and have a printed copy available for each participant. One person reads aloud to the group or all read silently.

2.  Make sure the participants understand the meaning of the piece thoroughly by discussing the selection.

-Who is the speaker?

-What is the setting?

-Under what conditions was the piece written?

-What is the theme?  What is the author trying to say?  Explain the central idea of the piece.

-Define new words.

-Clear up vague meanings.

 3.  Teach the participants to:

- Begin together,

- Speak at the same rate of speed, and

- Finish at the same split second.

4. As you read the passage together, avoid the pitfall of a sing-song, dull, monotonous reading.  Work for variety.

5. Make it fun.


Here’s a great piece to help you get started with choral reading today.  I hope you’ll be inspired to look for more selections!

What Shall I Pack in the Box Marked "Summer"? 

by Bobbi Katz

A handful of wind that I caught with a kite

A firefly’s flame in the dark of the night

The green grass of June that I tasted with toes

The flowers I knew from the tip of my nose

The clink of ice cubes in pink lemonade

The Fourth of July Independence Parade!

The sizzle of hot dogs, the fizzle of coke

Some pickles and mustard and barbecue smoke

The print of my fist in the palm of my mitt,

As I watched for the batter to strike out or hit

The splash of the water, the top-to-toe cool

Of a stretch-and-kick trip through a blue swimming pool

The tangle of night songs that slipped through my screen

Of crickets and insects too small to be seen

The seed pods that formed on the flowers to say

That Summer was packing her treasures away.

Would you like additional information on Choral Reading? Take a look at this great resource…

A Chorus of Cultures: Developing Literacy Through Multicultural Poetry

Summer Learning: How to create a positive summer reading experience

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Summer vacation is supposed to be a break from the usual routine of school, but many parents worry their kid’s reading skills will digress without some sort of action plan.  According to the "Kids and Family Reading Report," a survey done by Scholastic, an American publishing company, those fears might not be far from the truth for some.

Scholastic’s most recent report showed that among kids ages 9-11, 14% did not read any books during the summer of 2018, compared with 7% in 2016. Among kids ages 15-17, 32% did not ready any books during the summer of 2018, compared with 22% in 2016. 

Now, before you hit the panic button, it’s important to let you know that the same report found that nearly 60% of kids ages 6-17 did have a positive experience reading books over the summer.  So, what can you do as a parent to help increase your child’s odds of having a positive reading experience during their time off from school? 

First, give your child permission to read as many books as possible this summer for pleasure.  Let them choose their own books whether they are easy or hard, long or short.  The truth is that it doesn’t matter as long as they enjoy them.   Also, let them know that you are not going to ask them questions to find out whether they understood the books or not.  If they can understand enough of a book to enjoy it and want to go on reading it, then let them!

Secondly, if a child doesn’t want to finish a book they’ve started, that’s okay!  They should give an author a chance to get the story going, but if they don’t like the characters and don’t care what happens to them, it’s perfectly okay to find a different book.

Lastly, you must keep in mind that reading is reading regardless of the venue.  Let your child select what they want to read from hard cover books and magazines to online versions.  Giving a child permission to read for pleasure will be the best thing you can do for them over the summer!  Too often, reading is associated with comprehension questions and vocabulary checks.  When you remove them, reading for pleasure becomes the focus!

Summer Learning: Taking a Brain Break with Meditation

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If you’ve been following our Shurley English Blog posts, you know we’ve been flooding you with creative ideas on how to continue supporting your students’ academic progress throughout the summer.  We are aware that with the high demands placed upon our children in today’s U.S. classrooms, it’s evident that children (and adults) have fewer opportunities to truly unwind and relax. 

Today, my suggestion is to remember to INCLUDE some “DOWNTIME” into your child’s daily summer schedule, and here’s why:

  • Research shows that time off-task is important for proper brain function and health.

  • The brain uses 20% of the body’s energy while on-task.

  • Napping 10-30 minutes can increase alertness and improve performance.

  • Meditation is a way to give the brain a break from work and refresh the ability to concentrate.

  • Resting mental states help us process our experiences, consolidate memories, reinforce learning, regulate our attention and emotions, and keep us productive!

Downtime will give the brain an opportunity to make sense of what has just been learned, and shifting off-task can actually help learners refresh their minds, gain insight, and return to the task with more focus.

Brain Break Exercise: Meditation with Mindful Breathing

I mentioned meditation as a way to give the brain a break, so show your students how to tap into their own superhero relaxation powers with this simple breathing exercise.  Teach your students that their breath is an amazing tool that can help them relax or calm down at any given moment.  It can help them manage the ups and downs of school and life—all they have to do is breathe.

The purpose of a breathing meditation is to calm the mind and develop inner peace.  We can use breathing meditations to reduce our distractions and feel a deep sense of relaxation.  Allow this breathing exercise to bring more calmness into your classroom while your students learn a valuable tool that helps them relax.

  • Mindful Breathing Exercise (2-5 minutes)

  • Students can stand or sit for this activity.

  • Ask students to put both hands on their belly.

  • Students should close their eyes, or look down to their hands.

  • Guide students in taking three slow deep breaths in and out to see if they can feel their hands being moved.

  • You may like to count “1, 2, 3” for each breath in and “1, 2, 3” for each breath out, pausing slightly at the end of each exhale.

  • Encourage students to think about how the breath feels, answering the following questions silently, in their mind.

    What is moving your hands? Is it the air filling your lungs?
    Can you feel the air moving in through your nose?
    Can you feel it moving out through your nose?
    Does the air feel a little colder on the way in and warmer on the way out?
    Can you hear your breath?
    What does it sound like?

Remember, time off-task isn’t always wasted time or a sign of laziness. I encourage you to create the balance between being a “human-being” and a “human-doing” this summer!