Using Karaoke to Create Enthusiasm for Reading

Marianne Morin

Yesterday my at-risk readers were weary. It was Friday and they had been working hard on a book called The Courage of Sarah Noble. It’s a chapter book at their "instructional level," which means it was challenging for them, but not impossible to read.

They wanted to watch a video, or in some way take the day off. They in no way wanted to read, which they called "work." I, on the other hand did not think we could afford a day off with the big state tests only a month away.

The solution ……Karaoke!

Several years ago Watkins Glen Elementary purchased several Karaoke machines to be used to encourage children to read and write. On this particular day I got out the Karaoke and told the kids we would take turns reading with the microphone.

Whenever I said "Pass the mic", they passed it on to the next person. The trick was to read fluidly for an audience–each other. They had to first read the chapter silently and understand the vocabulary. My students used reusable colored tape to mark words that gave them trouble and as they read silently, I went around to help them figure out the words.

When they were ready they read aloud, taking turns with the karaoke. They loved it! They all acted like hams, and what’s more, they "worked" without thinking twice about it!

You can buy karaoke machines for as low as $40, or you can purchase Karaoke CD’s for as little as $10. Not a bad investment for getting students enthusiastic about reading!

Karaoke as Part of the Writing Process

Some children have a difficult time writing. They don’t get the idea that one writes to be read. One child told me that her mom keeps everything except her school papers. She uses those "papers" to start the fire in the fireplace. Some written work gets put on the refrigerator to be pointed to and glorified but not to be read.

At our school we use a process in writing that includes prewriting, drafting, editing, revising and publishing. It is in the "publishing" that the author of a story gets to read what he has written to an audience using a Karoake.

We place the best chair in the room, the "Author’s Chair", in a place of honor. The class gathers around and listens to the author with respect. The author waits for eye contact and a respectful audience before he begins to read. The reading is usually fluid because the reader is reading his own story, with which he alone is familiar. [See In Their Own Words.] The audience has no trouble listening because the karaoke machine insures that the reader can be heard.

After the reading, the audience applauds. Students are then allowed to ask questions of the author. The questions are usually very thoughtful because the children really want to understand their classmate’s story. The authors try hard to follow punctuation marks while reading aloud so the others will be able to understand the story. They even try to read with expression to make their performance sparkle. The Karoake has once again brought fun to learning.

The writing process, used in this manner, enables students to practice reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, all at the same time. They begin to understand why they write. They are eager to be celebrated authors!

Using Karaoke to Study Poetry

A third way to use a Karaoke is to share the rhythm of poems with children. We were studying the American Revolution and I wanted children to understand the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. It’s a difficult poem for fourth graders, but it does tell a good story in the form of poetry.

To help my students listen, I took two karaokes into the class. I used one mic to read the poem and I asked one of the students to tap out the sound of a galloping horse on the other mic. I even practiced with the student to be sure we could stay together. The phrasing had to be just right. I wanted the children to hear the beat that the author used AND to get the story. I also wanted to model the "reading " of a poem.

It worked like a charm. The students listened intently. They learned a few things about the elements of a poem. (Poetic elements tell a story, have rhythm, and sometimes rhyme.) The children found out that reading poems in the right way can be fun! They even learned something about the revolution! Afterwards,we looked up Paul Revere on the Internet and got the real story.



About Marianne Morin

I have been a teacher at Watkins Glen Elementary School for 21 years, and I love my job! When my children were little I went to Elmira College to get a Masters degree and a Reading Specialist Certificate. At this same time I had a private Nursery School at home which all of my own children attended for free. I am currently a Reading Teacher working with 3rd and 4th grade at-risk students, and the Elementary School Technology Coordinator. These two occupations, along with a husband who is a technology consultant, have been my inspiration to incorporate technology into the reading and writing process for at risk readers.

Karaoke CD’s

Disney Karaoke Volume 1
Disney Karaoke Volume 2
Disney Karaoke Volume 3
Grease Karaoke
Karaoke Rock’n’Roll
Party Tyme Karaoke-Broadway
Party Tyme Karaoke:  Kids Songs
Party Tyme Karaoke:  Kids, Vol 1
Party Tyme Karaoke:  Country
Party Tyme Karaoke:  Country Legends
Party Tyme Karaoke:  Oldies
Party Tyme Karaoke:  Oldies Vol. 2
Party Tyme Karaoke:  Show Tunes
Party Tyme Karaoke:  Americana