Do you notice that students are starting to glaze over each time you read science, social studies, or even math text in class? Try the tips below to pump up the volume, and make content-area reading manageable and fun.

Bring the Enthusiasm!

Every opportunity to read should be exciting. Whether you’re reading about mitochondria, or the directions to tonight’s homework assignment, you should read the text aloud like it’s the climax of a story, and you’re on the edge of your seat. Take your voice on an inflection rollercoaster and make each word count. Also, experiment with changing the volume of your voice to emphasize words or even a perfectly placed long pause and see what an impact it has on your audience. If you’re excited about isotopes, the kids will be excited...or they’ll at least have a good laugh at your over enthusiasm.

Time to Perform!

Now that you’ve got the vocal inflection down, it’s time to put on a show with your body as well! Move around while you read, gesticulate, stand on a chair, throw your fist in the air! Put on a show, and your students will be hanging on every word. As students begin to feel safe in your classroom, invite them to practice reading nonfiction text in this purposeful and exciting way as well. They can do this with partners, or even in front of the whole class. Any time you can get kids to smile about reading nonfiction text it’s a success!

Chunk the text!

Content-area text is typically nonfiction, and as a result it can be intimidating, so creating smaller, manageable pieces of text can help. Model what this looks like when you’re reading the text aloud to students. Chunk the text with your class, stop after a chunk, and check for understanding by posing a question and then turning and talking to a partner. This technique can easily be transferred into independent reading. Remind students before reading that they should stop after every paragraph or so and check to see if they’ve understood what they read. If not, it’s time to go back and reread the chunk! Making challenging reading tasks more manageable can help even our most reluctant readers feel capable of success.