By: Kendall Hunt RPD with contributions from the editorial team of Pathways2.0
Do your students look forward to reading with their friends in class? How can you foster the enjoyment of reading and provide the necessary confidence a student needs?
Shared read-aloud is a major component of the Pathways2.0 program. Research has shown that read-aloud is an effective strategy for increasing early literacy skills as well as helping to provide confidence for new readers. Before describing the benefits of shared read-alouds, it’s important to clarify a few key concepts:
-Shared reading involves the class reading the same text together as a group, either from a book or chart at the front of the classroom. This can also be done from individual student copies; 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.
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. These benefits include:
-The promotion of enjoyment in reading and positive reading experiences.
-The providing of a safe environment for oral reading. Shy students often feel more comfortable reading aloud as part of a group as their confidence grows.
-The teacher can pause to model strategies that focus on skills the class is working on, for example:
-Word-definition strategies for more difficult words that students may skip over during independent reading. An example would be, “I’m not sure what acrophobia means, but I know that phobia means ‘fear of.’ Do you see any context clues that suggest what the character might be afraid of?”
-Comprehension strategies that focus on meanings, like, “What is the main meaning 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. One example of this would be, “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 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 all the students at that point in time. Shared read-alouds are an important step toward successful independent reading, which is the general 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 book or chart at the front of the classroom, make certain 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 fit your classroom needs.
-Pause frequently to ask students for predictions. This not only keeps them engaged but also helps them focused on the specific skills you want to emphasize. One point of emphasis could be, “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. 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. An example would be, “What characteristics of expository text that we talked about last week can you find on this page?”
Shared reading is a great opportunity for students to speak and listen. Students can sit in a circle with all their classmates engaging in rich discourse with the teacher and multiple partners across a wide range of abilities.
Perhaps the most important guideline is to have fun! One of the main objectives of shared read-alouds is to foster enjoyment in reading. As teachers and parents, is this a strategy that your child could benefit from?
1. National Institute for Literacy, Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel (Jessup, MD: National Institute for Literacy, 2008).