Absolutely! Joke telling is a fabulous way to provide your students oral fluency practice. Jokes are meant to be read/told aloud. Through joke telling you can help students focus on pacing, stressing the right words, and reading in a smooth, fluid manner.
Slow and laborious readers fail to convey important information about the meaning of the text. Their voices are monotonous. They pause at inappropriate places in the text. They have awkward pacing and speed. They pay little attention to the punctuation marks and how their voices should be changing. With poor fluency, comprehension is almost impossible. Joke telling helps these disfluent readers, not to mention how the inherent interest of the jokes provides great motivation.
Many jokes are short (told in just a couple of sentences) and high-interest for students, so it’s a perfect tool to use when teaching reading. Their goal–make their peers laugh. Your goal–improve their reading fluency.
Focus on pacing & punctuation
Point out punctuation marks (e.g., question marks, commas, periods, exclamation marks, etc.) and how they affect your voice and volume when reading jokes. Then use choral and echo reading strategies to support students as they learn to read punctuation marks. (K-2 teachers should initially utilize Knock-Knock jokes that follow a simple and predictable pattern.)
Advance into vocabulary/word work
Don’t just look at this as a primary-reading activity. Upper grades, this is a fabulous opportunity to work on vocabulary, particularly homophones and multiple meaning words. Joke delivery requires an understanding of word puns and word play. You might even encourage students to attempt writing their own jokes.
Literacy Station/Center (Small-Group Activity)
Once you’ve introduced joke reading strategies and oral fluency skills during whole-class instruction, consider putting jokes into a literacy station.
Partners provide suggestions on how to best deliver the joke, commenting on reading rate, phrasing, volume, inflection, and punctuation attention, in order to maximize the punch line.
You can end the small group activity time with each group delivering one of their four jokes. Or, maybe there is an opportunity to share these jokes occasionally on the school announcements or for classroom visitors.
Joke Book resources
Need some joke books for your classroom? Here are a few new texts we’ve found you might want to try:
Chuckle Squad, Michael Dahl
The Funny Farm, Michael Dahl
Laughs for a Living, Michael Dahl
Screaming with Laughter, Michael Dahl
Wise Crackers, Michael Dahl
Or visit one of these websites to add even more humor to your classroom: