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Read Aloud Activities for High School

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

High school students can enjoy a good read aloud just as much as younger children. This lesson offers some ideas for activities that will keep high school students engaged and learning as you read to them.

Reading Aloud in High School

It is a myth that reading aloud should stop at a certain age. Almost all students love to be read to, and they can do learning and thinking with read alouds that they might not be able to do when reading on their own. As a high school teacher, you might read aloud to your students simply as a way to enjoy a good story as a community. A read aloud can also be a good way to supplement students' understanding of topics in history or science, and listening to a read aloud can calm students down when they are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed. Regardless of the reason for the read aloud, your students will get more out of it when you incorporate activities into your instruction. The activities in this lesson will help your high school students get as much as possible out of a read aloud.

Pre-Reading Activities

This section offers activities you can do with your high school students before reading a book to them.

Vocabulary Webs

It can be really important to preview vocabulary before a read aloud. This is especially important if you are going to be reading a content area book with specialized vocabulary. Choose five to ten words for your students to learn. Break students into small groups, and give each group three words to focus on. Some words will repeat across groups. Have them find each word's definition, then write the word in the middle of the page. They should draw three to five lines out from the word. At the end of each line, they should use it in a sentence that makes sense. Display these vocabulary webs around our classroom.

Image of a Theme

This is a great activity for activating students' prior knowledge while appealing to their visual sensibilities. Tell your students one of the major themes in the book you are about to read. Then, have them use water colors or oil pastels to create an image that relates to this theme in some way. It might be an image of a personal experience or a more general association. You can display these images and revisit them once they see how the theme is addressed in the text.

During Reading Activities

The activities offered here can be done over the course of your read-aloud.

Tracking Major Events or Ideas

Sometimes, high school students will benefit from a visual organizer that helps them keep track of questions, events and ideas that come up as they listen. Have students do this activity independently, in reading notebooks. After every page or two, stop and ask students to jot down either:

  • an idea they had while listening
  • a major event that occurred
  • a question that popped into their minds.

At the end of the whole read aloud session, ask for volunteers to share some of what they jotted down.

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