1. Read them aloud
Yes. You read that correctly. Reading aloud to the class. Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘come on Kylie, you said primary, not preschool’. But why stop the joy of being read to just because our learners can now read themselves? Think about all the reasons we read to pre-schoolers. I could quote numerous things to you about promoting oral language and concept development, helping students build a sense of story, supporting syntactic and vocabulary development, increasing a desire to read and motivation to learn English etc. but I’m sure you already know this, and let’s face it, one of the best reasons is because it’s enjoyable. Children of all ages can enjoy and learn from being read to, so why stop when they get to primary age? Huddle them in close, set a predictive task (for example guessing what the story might be about based on the cover, title or pictures) and off you go!
2. Rhymes and chants
When we use graded readers in the primary classroom, one of the things we hope to foster is the development of phonemic awareness. We can help further encourage this by taking key words from the text and together as and class, creating rhymes and chants. Poems, songs, jazz chants and raps would work equally well. Helping learners to notice the sounds of the words and how they link together helps promote literacy skills.
3. Mad libs
Mad libs are great for so many things. They give students a good giggle for a start, but also; personalise the text, make the story memorable, and help learners to increase their metacognitive awareness. What do I mean by using a mad lib with graded readers?
4. ‘Real’ reading
As I mentioned earlier, curling up in bed with a good book can be a real pleasure. Extensive reading isn’t just something for higher level or older students. Younger students just need some more support. Consider spending the lesson time preparing students by pre-teaching the vocabulary, working on any important grammar or structures they might need for the story, setting the context, teaching them how to deduce meaning from context and reminding them that they don’t need to know every word to enjoy a story. Focus on fully preparing them to read without actually reading in in the lesson. Then tell learners their homework is to curl up on the sofa or bed and just read the story. No questions. No tasks. No need to worry if there are some words they don’t know. Follow up in the next lesson should be quite open with no right or wrong answers e.g. asking them their favourite character, where they read the book (sofa? Bed? Garden?).
5. Story of the month
More often than not primary level coursebooks have ongoing stories featured in each unit and characters which join learners on their journey throughout the year/book. Coursebook writers must be on to something, right? Why not have a graded reader of the month. At the beginning of each month the teacher can do something with the book e.g. read it together in class or prepare learners as above and set it for homework. Throughout each month, readers can be integrated into other classroom activities. E.g. vocabulary can be used for team names during games, characters can be used for example sentences when practicing language, learners can write to characters, do role pays involving characters, use contexts from the story etc. Providing not only variety each month but yet another way to reinforce language and provide opportunities for new contexts.
There are loads of resources online for pre-during and post reading tasks to use with graded readers and extensive support in the form of guidelines and tips and activities from numerous publishers. So what are you waiting for? Turn of those devices (even if just for a moment) and get your learners reading! Graded readers that is