Interactive Read Alouds

It is important that students of all ages listen to and comprehend texts read aloud. When a text is read aloud to a student, it frees them from the stress of decoding and focusing on expression. Interactive read alouds give teachers a great opportunity to observe student understanding, assess critical thinking skills, and use academic vocabulary.

It is important that students of all ages listen to and comprehend texts read aloud. When a text is read aloud to a student, it frees them from the stress of decoding and focusing on expression. Interactive read alouds give teachers a great opportunity to observe student understanding, assess critical thinking skills, and use academic vocabulary.

The books you use for interactive read alouds can serve many purposes. When selecting texts, consider your curriculum and the goals you have set for your students. To have a successful read aloud, you must read the texts in advance.


Step 1: Set a Purpose

Sometimes we read books to our students to help them find the joy in reading. Interactive read alouds are not one of those times. Interactive read alouds are meant to help students learn skills through text. The skills can help students learn more about particular authors, explore topics from social studies or science, model and explain social situations, explain different cultures, expand vocabulary, focus on a language arts skill, etc.

Step 2: Select a Text

After you have chosen your focus skill, you can browse your own library or search for books that help teach that particular skill. (There are tons of booklists floating around the internet, just make sure you read the book before you use it!) As you should be using interactive read alouds frequently with your students, you want to make sure you are exposing them to a variety of texts. There are ten factors you should consider when choosing your books.
  1. genre
  2. text structure
  3. content
  4. themes and ideas
  5. language and literary features
  6. sentence complexity
  7. vocabulary
  8. words
  9. illustrations
  10. text features


Step 3: Plan the Read Aloud

READ THE BOOK IN ADVANCE. I know, I sound like a broken record, but this is important. If you don’t read the text and plan in advance, your students will not benefit from the interactive read aloud. You’ve already chosen your skill, so read the book with that skill in mind. Jot down any notes or mark your book with Post-its to help you remember where to stop and discuss.

Structure of Read Aloud

Opening: Don't just jump into the text. Provide your students with background knowledge (if necessary) or simply get them excited about the book.

Read Aloud: As you are reading, remember that you are modeling how you want your students to read. You don't have to be dramatic or silly, but make sure you are using expression as you read. During the reading you may want to stop at a few pre-planned spots briefly. It is important that you don't spend so much time talking during the read aloud that your students lose the meaning of the text or become disengaged.

Discussion: After you are done reading, you will want to really dive into the book. Point out key ideas that you want your students to gain from the read aloud and encourage students to share their thoughts with the class.

Response: If a discussion is not enough or you want to assess your students, have them write or draw a response to the text in general or ask them a specific question to respond to.

Here is an example for A Case of Bad Stripes by David Shannon

Download a FREE sample interactive read aloud lesson for "A Bad Case of Stripes" by David Shannon.

Download a FREE sample interactive read aloud lesson for "A Bad Case of Stripes" by David Shannon.
What books do you like to use for interactive read alouds?

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