The read aloud can be a multifaceted instructional tool. It can be used to sparking the joy of reading and it can also be used to model for students what good readers do naturally when they read. In my work as a literacy coach, I have seen teachers use read alouds as ways to discuss challenging topics, as ways to give students a fun brain break, and as ways to teach ideas for comprehension skills. They have also used the read aloud to model fluent reading and to teach ideas like cause and effect and making inferences and yes, they also take the opportunity to tell student the meanings of unfamiliar words. The read aloud as an instructional tool can be a powerful way to reinforce key ideas that you have worked on during your whole group and small group instruction. I want to discuss ways to get the most out of your read aloud time with students. For your read aloud to be beneficial, students must be willing to engage and interact with you while you read it. They will not learn or experience anything if they are not paying attention to you. So, lets start there. Let's begin by considering the types of books to choose.
Types of Books
One of the first things you should consider is the types of books you choose to read to your students. The books should not only serve your purpose, they should also be books the students would be interested in hearing you read. It is also important that students see themselves reflected positively in those books. I am reminded of a video I saw about diverse books, see it here: Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors. Here are some other tips to think about when choosing a good read aloud:
Keeping Them Engaged
Okay, so you have chosen a book to read and you are excited! The students are excited too, but remember they are 6, 7, or 8-ish. Understand that child development experts say that a reasonable attention span for a child is 2 to 3 minutes per their age so typically able children 6 to 8 years old may have an attention span of about 16 to 18 minutes. Read more about that in the article Normal Attention Span Expected by Age. Here are some things you can do to get and keep their attention while you read.
Using the read-aloud as an instructional tool is one way to ensure that the incidental, incremental nature of vocabulary acquisition can be more intentional and meaningful.
Thank you for reading,
Pearl Garden, Ed.D has completed her dissertation research involving understanding the vocabulary instruction practices of early grade teachers. She has a passion for the new and novice educator, and it is her goal to help educators tackle the achievement gap with her research findings. She will use this blog to share what she has learned in “pearls of literacy”. The ideas come from her dissertation titled “A Content Analysis of the Vocabulary Instruction Habits by Early Grade Teachers”.