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Top 5 Interesting Reading Activities for Group Classes

Maureen St. George

Reading doesn’t seem to have much middle ground with students –they either like it or they don’t. Luckily for teachers, a gold mine of tips and tricks for teaching reading exists across the Internet and in teachers’ books. From using their strength in numbers to read together to learning about the literary devices and symbolism behind what they’re reading, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to constructing a wholly interesting reading lesson.

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Reading Together
Reading together is a tried-and-true tactic that tests reading and listening skills. Whether the news, a short story or a chapter from a book, students can take turns reading, or the teacher can read to the students. The possibilities are endless: the students can take turns reading the same passage for repetition purposes; one student can read a paragraph aloud and the other(s) can summarize it; the class can each take a part and read/act through a scene in a play. Just sitting in a circle brings everyone physically closer; and reading together helps the class get to know each other on a different level.

Summarizing
In addition to reading together, students can also read alone or in pairs. Each student or pair can read a certain part and then summarize what they’ve read so students can get a view of the whole story rather than just a part. Students should be encouraged to ask questions to each other to get a clearer picture on the details and character development. Afterwards, the class can discuss their feelings on the reading; for example, if they liked their part or would have preferred to read a different section based on the summaries.

Being a Critic
Feelings about the selected readings will vary so teaching students how to critique readings will help them air their feelings in a constructive way. The teacher can show how to refer back to certain passages and key phrases to use when expressing opinions. This opens the floor to teaching about character development, voice, cultural significance, and the arc of action among others, for students to think about when reading.
For a more fun take on reading, teachers can bring up pieces heavy with literary devices like onomatopoeia, allegory, imagery and more. Many of the obvious choices are for the younger set, like Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, although these can also work for adults. Poems by Robert Frost are generally easier to understand than more classic ones, and are a good opportunity to focus on and discuss word choice.

Feelings about the selected readings will vary so teaching students how to critique readings will help them air their feelings in a constructive way.

Skimming and Scanning
In addition to literary devices, teachers can take the time to teach some solid skills like skimming and scanning to the students. Students probably already do this in their own language, but make sure they know the difference between the two and practice doing these skills in class. Skimming is generally best for the news and non-fiction pieces. This is also the time to introduce topic sentences and supporting details if they’re not familiar with them. Scanning is just looking for a specific fact or piece of information. This requires looking at how the reading is structured, and practice with this can range from looking at local TV listings to finding dates and years in a history text.

Movies Based on Books
Finally, many books have been turned into movies, and usually, people like the book version better. For in-depth comparison and contrasting, have students watch a movie based on the book, or simply look at a piece of art, photos, or read a bit about the history or place that the piece revolves around. Did the book live up to the expectations? How was it the same/different? What had they imagined would happen in the book? Which did they prefer? This could be done in one class or expanded over a number of days depending on how deep the group gets into the project.

How do you get your group classes excited about reading? We’d love to hear your thoughts below!

About the author

Maureen is a US-born, Hong Kong-based freelance editor and writer who has taught ESL all over the world. Traveling is her main hobby, and there's nothing she enjoys more than having a carefully planned trip go completely awry.