Oh Baby: Teachers tout benefits of reading aloud to teens - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Oh Baby: Teachers tout benefits of reading aloud to teens

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Of course it's common practice for teachers to read to kids in elementary school. You can see the images of kids sitting on the rug looking up for story time.

But now, many teachers of older students are reading aloud, too. Is it a smart strategy to reach teens or a way to create lazy learners?

High school teacher Trista Lepore reads to her high school students every day.

That's right.  High school.

"I think it's pretty easy when you're read to, kind of just really focus in on the story and what it's about," she said.

The way she explains it, the story comes alive more for those who listen to it rather than read it.  And she's not alone.

Dr. Lettie Albright reads out loud to her college students. She conducted a survey of middle school teachers around the country. Seventy percent said they use the practice too.

"The majority of teachers responding said they read aloud to students to promote a love of reading and a love of books and the second most frequent answer was to enhance comprehension and understanding," Albright said.

It's not just in reading, English and language arts classes. Math, science and social studies teachers are getting vocal, too.

"What we found was that the read-alouds and the discussion that go along with the read aloud engage the students more in the learning," Albright said.

But not everyone embraces the idea. Robert Pondiscio is with Core Knowledge Foundation, a non-profit that promotes a core academic curriculum. He's concerned that this may be a crutch.

"In this country we used to learn to read and then read to learn," he said.

He believes this strays from that. He doesn't have an issue with reading aloud when it's appropriate, but says it should be limited.

"The problem is using it all the time. If we're reading aloud to kids because they don't understand or don't have the ability to understand when they read to themselves then reading aloud is really treating the symptom and not the disease," he said.

Pondiscio believes we should be focused on giving students a broader education so they can comprehend what they're reading instead of being read to.

Dr. Albright stresses that for most teachers the reading aloud is just part of an overall program with students reading other materials on their own.

So what do students think of being read to?

"I just relate better to it. Whenever I'm like reading myself I just lose track," high school student Parker Evins said.

"You might envision it in a different way when somebody else is reading it than you would if you were concentrating on the words yourself," college student Katherine Barrett said.

There's very little research to document the drawbacks or benefits. But Dr. Albright uses an analogy to explain why she believes in reading aloud.

"I think about music students and how they might be able to read a sheet of music and play it, but you wouldn't want them to never go to the symphony and enjoy an afternoon of listening to the music because they can do it themselves," Albright said.

Experts say one thing that is often no longer recommended in high school classes is what teachers refer to as 'round robin' where students are asked to read aloud to the class.

She says studies show strong readers read ahead of the class while weaker readers are so stressed about their turn to read aloud that the anxiety keeps them from being able to concentrate.

Online Anchor: Sunny Layne

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