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Pathways 2.0 The Benefits of Shared Read-Aloud In Your Classroom

April 30, 2018

By: Kendall Hunt RPD with contributions from the writing team of Pathways 2.0 Reading and Language Arts programs 1-8.

How can you foster the enjoyment of reading?

Shared read-aloud is a major component of the Pathways 2.0* program and research has shown that it is an effective strategy for increasing early literacy skills. Before describing the benefits of shared read-alouds, it’s important to clarify some terms:

·         Shared reading involves the class reading the same text together as a group, either from a big book or chart at the front of the classroom or from individual student copies of the same text; the reading material is generally at the students’ grade level.

·         A read-aloud involves the teacher reading aloud to the class while modeling reading and comprehension strategies; the reading material may be above the students’ grade level.

Thus, a shared read-aloud can be defined as an interactive reading activity that combines the elements of shared reading and read-alouds: The teacher and students read the same text together as a class, and the teacher models reading and comprehension strategies during the activity; the amount of teacher guidance is increased when the reading material is above the students’ grade level.

Teachers frequently use shared read-alouds because of their many benefits:

·         They promote enjoyment of reading and positive reading experiences.

·         They provide a safe environment for oral reading; for example, shy students often feel more comfortable reading aloud as part of a group.

·         The teacher can pause to model strategies that focus on skills the class is working on—for example:

                o Word-definition strategies for more difficult words that students may skip over during independent reading—for example, “I’m not sure what acrophobia means, but I know that the word part phobia means ‘fear of.’ Do you see any context clues that suggest what the character might be afraid of?”

                o Comprehension strategies that focus on meaning—for example, “What is the main idea of this paragraph?”

·         The teacher can pause to point out examples that highlight skills the students are working on in writing activities, such as author craft—for example, “Notice how the author uses alliteration here; let’s read the sentence again and focus on the repeated sounds.”

The overarching benefit of shared read-alouds is that because the teacher and students are “on the same page,” the teacher can instantly tailor instruction to the focus of the class and the needs of the students at that particular point in time. Shared read-alouds are thus an important step toward successful independent reading, the overall goal of reading instruction.

To use shared read-alouds effectively in your classroom, consider the following guidelines: 

·         When selecting texts for shared read-alouds, remember that material can be above grade level because students will have teacher support while reading.

·         If using a big book or chart at the front of the classroom, ensure that all students can see the text; experiment with different methods, such as the use of a document camera, to find the method best suited to your classroom.

·         Pause frequently to ask students for predictions; this not only keeps them engaged but also helps them focus on the specific skills you want to emphasize—for example, “Based on the way the author ended this chapter, what do you think will happen in the next chapter?”

·         When pausing to ask questions, ensure that you allow sufficient wait time for students to think about an answer, and try to ask questions that help students connect the reading with prior learning rather than questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no—for example, “What characteristics of expository text that we talked about last week can you find on this page?”

Perhaps the most important guideline is this: Have fun! One of the main purposes of shared read-alouds is fostering enjoyment of reading. As teachers and parents is this a strategy that your child could benefit from?

* Pathways 2.0 Reading and Language Arts program for grades 1-8...Coming to Your Classroom Fall of 2018!

1. National Institute for Literacy, Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel (Jessup, MD: National Institute for Literacy, 2008).