Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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the expanding canon teaching multicultural literature
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Reader Response: Pat Mora and James Welch Reader Response: Keith Gilyard and Mourning Dove Inquiry: Rudolfo Anaya and James Baldwin Inquiry: Tomás Rivera and Esmeralda Santiago Cultural Studies: Ishmael Reed and Graciela Limón Cultural Studies: N. Scott Momaday and Russell Leong Critical Pedagogy: Octavia E. Butler and Ruthanne Lum McCunn Critical Pedagogy: Abiodun Oyewole and Lawson Fusao Inada
Theory Overview Lesson Plans Teaching Strategies Authors and Literary Works Resources
Session 5 Cultural Studies: Ishmael Reed and Graciela Limón - Teaching Strategies

Choral Reading
Literature Circles
Bilingual and Intertextual Reading


REFLECTION - Interactive Forum

Explore two poems using four approaches.


Share your views on the discussion

Download the Session 5 Guide


Choral Reading


"Choral reading," also referred to as "unison reading," simply means reading aloud as a group. Together, students speak or chant the words of a common text.

This method is particularly effective for teaching poetry, because reading aloud helps students understand the rhythm, meter, patterns, rhymes, and vocal characterizations of a poem. In addition, choral reading helps introduce students to the concept of oral tradition: They learn how poetry can be shaped by communities and passed on from generation to generation without being written down. (By listening to other students add their own inflections to a text, for instance, students are better able to understand how texts can be shaped cumulatively by continued retelling.)

To use choral reading most effectively, teachers should choose readings that are relatively short – a poem of two to 10 pages is plenty. Also, teachers should look for a text that will put imaginations to work. "Railroad Bill, A Conjure Man," for example, is a dramatic multi-character poem with lots of repetition; it's almost like a song. Reading a poem like this aloud encourages students to think about the poem's structure and rhythm – and it also encourages students to consider who is supposed to be speaking the lines and why. Teachers may also want to select narrative poems featuring a story with a good plot line and dynamic characters so that students have room to experiment with voices and sound effects. In that vein, teachers should look for texts with unusual sounds, contrasts, a strong mood, or snappy dialogue; all this makes for lively group reading.

In the classroom, teachers should ask students to read the entire selection silently before reading it aloud. This will give them time to become familiar with the content so that when they give their choral reading, they can focus solely on vocal interpretation.


Choral readings offer students a creative way to explore issues of voice, characterization, rhythm, and rhyme, along with the dialects and cadences of the texts. Choral reading can also help students to recognize how poetic structures, such as line breaks and internal rhymes, shape the poem's meaning. Finally, choral reading allows students to actually "feel" the work's aesthetic, putting them in touch with their creative selves and allowing them to interpret the work with their own aesthetic sensibilities.

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