Choral Reading with Dyslexic Students
by Yvonna Graham, M.Ed.
WHAT IS CHORAL READING?
Choral reading, also know as unison reading, is simply reading together aloud. This can be done by a tutor and a student, a parent and a child, or a teacher in a classroom. It’s especially effective in a classroom, because there are enough students reading to make it easy for dyslexic students to join in at any level they can.
WHY CHORAL READING IS IMPORTANT
The test-intensive school environment has produced not only worried students, but “testy” teachers, who get into a habit of presenting material in a test-like format, both verbally and on paper. The feeling that one is being tested and must give the right answer, or read perfectly, produces stress. Stress floods the brain with the “fight or flight” hormone, cortisol, shutting down learning. Students who find reading difficult do better in an environment that doesn’t put them on the spot. Choral reading meets this need. Choral reading allows the use of interesting material written at a higher level, so dyslexic students aren’t forced to read only at their independent reading level, which can be extremely boring.
HOW TO USE CHORAL READING
To use choral reading the teacher, tutor or parent says, “Watch the words as I read aloud. Say the words with me, right after me, or in your head. I will not ask you to read out loud all alone. If you ever want to read aloud to me, just let me know.” Choral reading opens up the opportunity to use newspapers, magazines, high interest books, comics, or graphic novels. Thus, reading becomes interesting to students who are completely unmotivated by the simplistic fare available at their tested reading level. While participating in choral reading, the student repeatedly sees words in context. Repetition in context is one key to dyslexic reading.
NO SHAME, NO STRESS
The student needs to participate at his or her own level of comfort, so it’s important not to push the student to say the words aloud. Let the students know that silent reading is real reading — and you just want to see them looking at the right page, joining in when they feel comfortable doing so. For some dyslexic students, verbalizing the words actually impedes comprehension, so silent reading needs to come first! Freed from the stress of reading aloud by themselves, the student can concentrate on the text and meaning instead of looking for ways to escape a stressful situation! You can find out more in this book: