For those of you that know me–know that ONE of my many soapbox discussions is READ ALOUD. This is a crucial element for any classroom–no matter the subject area. (EVEN MATH) So, here is the beginners guide to read aloud.
What is it?
Read Aloud is a strategy where a teacher sets aside time to read aloud to students on a consistent basis from texts that are above their independent level. The importance of it being at a higher level is to expose them to rich text and vocabulary that they cannot access without assistance.
Why do you Read Aloud?
A teacher uses this strategy for MANY reasons including to support social studies and science, to encourage student interests, broaden students exposure to different genres, to encourage reading discussion, for writing and reflection opportunities, to model skills, think aloud and most of all enjoyment!
Reading aloud gives teachers the opportunity to model fluent and expressive reading for students. You can stop and think aloud, model inferring, predictions, and figuring out unknown words. You can help students build background–stop and look up images online as you read. You can help students make connections between topics you are studying and other texts.
What Texts do you Read Aloud?
Fiction: short stories, poetry, picture books, high interest selections, novels, books with absorbing plots/developed characters and books with multiple perspectives.
Informational Text: Biography, Autobiography, speeches, historical documents, newspaper articles, magazine articles
How do you Plan for a Read Aloud?
1. Read and REREAD the selection. Think about your goals and identify where you want to stop–discuss and where you may need to build background. Highlight or put sticky notes on sections with questions or places to stop predict, infer or make connections.
2. Plan things you want to talk about–think aloud opportunities and even activities throughout the text.
3. Build Background knowledge for your students. Activate prior knowledge with a picture walk within the book or with real images if it is a topic such as segregation, immigration or the Civil War. You may even have students complete an Anticipation Guide to determine their ideas on a topic before you begin and to help shape discussions throughout the text.
Taking time to prepare for a Read Aloud will help you provide meaningful conversations around the selection. You can help students make meaning out of tough topics and help to make comparisons to other topics and ideas you have read about. This time also allows you to find ways to infuse opportunities to reinforce skills you are working on in the classroom such as predictions, inferences, comparing and contrasting or drawing conclusions.
How do you Conduct a Read Aloud?
There is no right answer for how to conduct a read aloud. It is simply important to read and discuss with students–however, here are some of the steps I have used to enrich the Read Aloud experience.
1. Build Background as mentioned above when appropriate.
2. As you read it is important to have ongoing interaction with the students and not having them listen passively. You can have students make responses verbally or in written form. They can create story maps, think pair share, partner discussions, act out, reflections, etc. I used to keep a poster in my room with the following words: STOP Draw, STOP Act Out, Stop Jot, and Stop and Talk. These are the options students would participate in as we read and made notes in their reading journals.
The interaction does not have to be seriously intense but ways to help students get involved.
More importantly for students, READ and Enjoy! So many of the homes our students come from do not have books and the chance to hear and enjoy books.
Please post a great read aloud book in the comment section for your colleagues!