Sunday, January 26, 2014

Engaging Students in Read Aloud

Interactive Read Aloud is a great way to add discussion and engagement to your elementary ELA classroom.

Do you read aloud to your students?  Most of us do.  Reading aloud to your students is a great way to model good reading and share books that may be beyond the reading level of the class you are teaching.  Traditionally, read aloud consisted of the teacher with a book in her/his hand and the students sitting quietly listening to the story.  If this is how you are doing read aloud, you are missing out on a HUGE teaching opportunity!
I wanted to use this post to share with you something new I have been doing in my class this year with my read aloud time.  I have always taken the time each day to read aloud to my students.  I teach 4th and 5th graders and find that time to be invaluable!  Through read aloud I am able to model for my students fluency, thinking while reading, and so much more.

I have always chosen the books I will be sharing with the class so that students are exposed to literature that they might not choose themselves or are not able to read on their own.

The students listened while I read.  I would think aloud, stop to ask questions, let students share their ideas, but mostly it was just me reading to them and them listening.  It was good, but it lacked something.

This summer I read this book...

and it was like I had found the ANSWER.  THIS was exactly how I had always wanted my reading workshop to run.

Now, I'm going to be honest and tell you that I don't have it all going smoothly yet, but the one thing that is working out BRILLIANTLY is my interactive read-aloud time.

At the beginning of the year... when the Back-to-School sales were going on, I purchased each of my students a reading journal.
I covered each one with colored paper (except the fun black and white ones) and but labels with student names on them.  Each journal was then divided into three sections: mini-lessons, read aloud, and reading response.

The mini-lesson section is used for taking notes and practicing strategies that aide comprehension.  For example,  I taught my students how to make a quick sketch chart to keep track of the sequence of events in a story.

Another strategy I shared with students is "story mapping".  Students draw a map of the setting of a story and then write in events that happened in each part of the setting.   Here is an example from Dexter the Tough:

Students then take these strategies and use them with their own independent reading books.  Here is a story map a student drew in her "Reading Response" journal sections while reading The Tale of Despereaux:

Back to read aloud.  One of the major changes I have made is that, when possible, each of my students has a copy of the book in his/her hand.  I am reading aloud, but my students are reading along with me.  Another big change is that I bring all of my students to the carpet and we sit in a discussion circle.  Students bring their book, their journal, and a pencil.  During the reading, we stop to discuss confusing parts of the story, make predictions, chart ideas and clues as to what is happening in the story.  

Here is the plot anchor chart we created and filled out while reading Dexter the Tough:
This has been the most valuable change I have made to my teaching this year!  Even though I do all of the reading, my students are now engaged in the text, raising their hands to share ideas, predictions and observations.  It is truly interactive.  

I find I am doing most of my teaching through the read aloud now.  We just finished a unit on recognizing and understanding figurative language and I am able to support that new learning during this 15-20 minute block of time.  

Using interactive read aloud with my class has allowed me to really engage all of my students in the books we read.  We get to be involved in each other's thinking processes and insights and my students still get to hear fluent reading being modeled.  Read aloud has become my students' favorite part of the day!  It is a win-win for all of us!  

We just recently started reading "When I Reach You" as our read-aloud.  In my next blog post I'll be sharing some of the AMAZING thinking and connections I am hearing from my students.  Goose-bump moments I call them.  

Is there anything you have done differently this year that you are excited about?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!  Please comment below! 

Thank you for visiting!  


  1. I really like that anchor chart! Everything looks very engaging!!
    Come Visit Readbox!

    1. Thank you! I love that anchor chart too. I'm re-using it for our latest read aloud. I don't know why I haven't done that before this year. :)

  2. Great post! I will definitely repin and share this one! I loved reading aloud, too!

  3. Thank you so much, Laura. I have always loved read aloud, but implementing it this way has made it 100% better. The students are much more engaged and focused. We are in the middle of reading "Wonder" right now and the students are excited every day for read aloud time. That makes me a happy teacher. :)

  4. I love they way you engage the kids WITH the book via pictures and discussion. This is a great strategy for my special ed kids...that they can feel comfortable with answering aloud and working with their classmates. The pictures will really give them an anchor to understanding to begin with and then evolve into a discussion anchor too. I will definitely be trying this!

  5. I love the interactive anchor chart with post-its! :) I'm so doing this with my second graders!