Sunday, September 19, 2004

Reading Parenthetically

In my basic writing class on Friday, we did some reading out loud from the textbook. As I followed along in my book, I noticed the student readers ignoring anything in parenthesis, whether it was a citation or an explanation. I've seen this happen before, and I've become more and more curious about why they glide past explanatory information.
Tomorrow, I'll ask my current students why this is so. My guess is that it's a half-remembered rule or convention, not reading citation information out loud, that they are applying to any occurrence of the parenthesis. If they aren't reading the information out loud, are they reading it at all? Would a student be more inclined to read parenthetical information if she were reading quietly? Or not?

What do you think? Has anyone else noticed this?

6 Comments:

At 7:28 PM, Blogger jocalo said...

I haven't noticed this exact phenomenon, but I do know that many students struggle with reading aloud because it's a method largely abandoned in the schools.

I use oral reading in a range of ways, in both basic classes and more advanced classes. In British Lit, I got everyone (including me) more engaged in The Faery Queen, by devoting an entire class session simply to reading it aloud, each student taking a stanza and going around the circle. The imagery and rhythms came alive in a way I'd never had happen before.

I use a similar read around technique with Sandra Cisneros' "La Fabulosa: A Texas Operetta." Each student reads a sentence, going around until we've read the whole story. Then I read it aloud to give it more flow. Finally, we do a jump-around read: that's where any student can read any sentence from the story at any moment. Invariably, the jump around turns into a kind of dialogue between men and women.

I also tell students that one value to reading aloud is a comprehension check: almost always a reader stumbles or hesitates because they don't know the word or phrase, don't get an allusion or reference, or are having trouble parsing the sytax. It's a sure clue to where you need to go back and work for understanding.

 
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