How do you teach reading whole group? I use interactive read-alouds and it has been a game-changer in my classroom not only for comprehension but participation! A few years ago my district asked me to go through a year-long training on how to create and teach interactive read-alouds. I was already in a routine for the flow of my day and didn’t really want to be trained on something else that would get put on the back burner but I am ever so thankful I did. I had never seen my students more excited to do a reading lesson than when I started teaching with an interactive read-aloud lesson plan.
What are Interactive Read-Alouds
What is an interactive read aloud you might ask. The interactive read aloud definition states that interactive read–alouds are a literacy event where students are actively engaged in listening and talking about the text throughout the duration of the read-aloud. Interactive read-alouds are a way to teach your whole group reading lesson where the teacher will read aloud a preselected text that is at least 2-3 grade levels above the students’ current grade level and pause at different parts of the text for conversation or written responses. The students will talk about the text or respond to it either as a whole group, or with a partner(s). This process helps readers listen actively in order to process the meaning of the text. You will use the same book for several days and then complete a culminating activity at the end of the week to show mastery.
Benefits of Interactive Read Alouds
Interactive read loud benefits include creating a community of collaboration, students get to read books that they may not be able to read on their own, they enhance creativity, curiosity, and imagination, and students gain background knowledge of universal concepts. Read-alouds are a great way to teach important reading skills while having the students stay focused and involved. When teaching with this method, students will be listening, thinking, talking with a partner, writing, sharing and so much more. There are so many different ways for students to participate that they never get bored. Each week there will be one main standard focused on but other standards will also be tied in just as a brief introduction of that skill or a review.
Books for Interactive Read Alouds
As mentioned above when you choose an interactive read aloud book, it needs to be about 2-3 grade levels above the students’ current grade. You will want to pick a book that is a good fit for the standard you are covering that week. You will be integrating several other standards as review, but you will want one main standard to focus on. It’s very easy to search for books that are good for particular standards.
Make sure you choose one that you enjoy yourself. That will definitely make a difference in how your students respond to it. Plus, you will be using the book all week so it needs to be something engaging. You will want to select high-quality books from great authors and possibly award winners. Choose a mixture of fiction and nonfiction and try to vary genres. Obviously, you will want your books for interactive read alouds to be interesting for your students as well.
Vocabulary for Interactive Read-Alouds
The next step in planning an interactive read aloud lesson is to choose about 3-5 rich vocabulary words. These need to be words that students must know to understand the book. I usually make up hand gestures that go along with the word to help my students remember them. For example, for feast we pretend like we are eating or for curious we tap our head with our finger like we are thinking. Anytime the students hear the word in the book we do the gesture to reinforce its meaning. I also make sure the vocabulary words are up on our interactive read aloud anchor charts. This step will be discussed more below.
Setting the Interactive Read Aloud Purpose
Once you have a great text selected, decide on an essential question. This gives the students something to focus on to understand the meaning of the book and also sets the interactive read aloud purpose. I tell my students they should all be able to answer the essential question by the end of the week. I usually tend to think of the moral or lesson of the story and base my question around that. The essential question will also go on your anchor chart.
Interactive Read Aloud Questions
An interactive read aloud lesson will need several rich questions to ask throughout the book. Students will either answer you by turning and talking with a partner, using private think time to answer individually or writing their answer in their notebook or journal.
The interactive read aloud questions you use need to align to the standards. The majority of the questions should align to the main standard for the week, but you should also sprinkle other standard questions throughout. I like to use standards we have already covered as well as new ones just as a mini introduction.
Tips for Interactive Read-Alouds
Mark the pages you will be stopping to ask questions. A great way to do this is by writing the question on a sticky note and placing it on that page. Save the sticky notes and you’ll have them next year!
Anchor Charts for Interactive Read-Alouds
The interactive read aloud anchor charts are a big piece to an interactive read aloud lesson. At the top you should always list the essential question. You will also need the vocabulary words on the chart as well as the main standard for the week and some questions that can be asked in order to understand the standard better. The majority of the chart will hold your students’ learning for the week. I create some type of graphic organizer that goes along with the main standard we are focusing on and we fill in the information that we learn throughout the week on the chart. I love that the anchor charts allow for student interaction and that they are filled out with the students and not before you teach.
Strategies for Interactive Read-Alouds
I begin every day’s lesson by using a “When we talk poster” to go over our read aloud rules. When we talk we….. *Explain our thinking* *Use a strong voice* *Track the speaker* *Wait our turn.* Students are taught that they can’t just answer without backing up their answer with “because.” They can disagree with someone’s answer but again they have to follow up why they disagree with “because.” They have to speak loud enough for everyone to hear. I randomly call on students to repeat what another student said so everyone has to be able to hear.
Before I call on a student to answer, I say “let’s track (student’s name). That means all eyes should be on that student that is answering to show respectful listening manners. After we review the rules I say the “I can” statement for the day. It’s posted on my anchor chart for the week. Next, we go over our essential question for the week and discuss the weekly vocabulary words.
Each day’s lesson typically takes about 30 minutes. My students have a reading journal they bring to the carpet with them every day to complete their writing responses in.
Interactive Read Aloud Examples
You will mainly focus on just reading the whole book all the way through with little interruptions. Students will listen for vocabulary words and have a writing response to complete. This day is mainly to allow students to listen to and enjoy the book and to briefly introduce the standard for the week.
You will read the first half of the book again. Students will turn and talk with their partner, have a writing response to complete, listen for vocabulary words and this is the first day you will really start discussing the weekly standard.
This day is a copy of Tuesday but you will read the last half of the book. I love that the book and questions get broken down to two separate days. This gives plenty of time for deep discussion and thinking without rushing to get through everything in one day.
Thursday and Friday
These days will be when students complete some type of culminating activity to go along with the book or weekly standard. It may be a project that takes both days to complete or it may be a different activity each day. Some weeks it may be using a different book to do some comparing and contrasting.
What is a Culminating Activity
Culminating activities are what the students will complete after your deep study of the text. They require students to think about the most important things you presented to them during the week aligning to the standard being taught. This gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their level of mastery over the standard. They could be anything from speaking, drawing, writing, etc. but the main purpose is to allow students to show their mastery in a meaningful practice. Most include a cute craft that can go along with the lesson for that day.
Need Help Getting Started with Interactive Read-Alouds
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