Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making Read Aloud Purposeful

Since read aloud is a time for us to think aloud and model how to actively use comprehension strategies while reading, it is critical to spend time planning our read alouds.   It's a powerful opportunity to show students that readers use strategies as they read in everyday life not just in reading workshop. 

Read aloud is a time for students to also practice using the comprehension strategies we teach in mini-lessons, conferences, small groups, and by watching us think aloud during read aloud.  The students practice these strategies by turning and talking to their reading partner & stopping and jotting on a post-it or in their readers notebook. 

Every summer, I create a chart with each unit of study on one side and possible read alouds on the other side along with a third column for strategies I would like to model in the read alouds.  Of course I always add to this chart throughout the year as new books become published! When it is time to begin this chart of possible read alouds for the year, I put a lot of thought into choosing a text that is aligned to the unit of study in reading workshop, will capture the students’ interest, and allow them to think deeply as readers. I always have a couple possibilities for chapter book read alouds because I prefer to read aloud chapter books that my students haven't read before.  Of course, I believe strongly in the benefits of rereading books, but I like to read "new" chapter books to students so it builds the natural excitement and suspense that come along with reading a new book to see what our characters are going to do next in each chapter! For picture book read alouds, I don't obsess over making sure that it is a new book because picture books are powerful to reread to students to see all of their new thinking and how they are responding to it through a different lens. 

When I am getting ready to read aloud a book, I carefully find spots within the text to model my own thinking and strategies I used as a reader while I read the book to myself.  I am a firm believer that students need to see me as a reader and be able to peek into my mind at the strategies I am using by listening to me think aloud and watch me grapple with the text and characters. After I mark places with post-its with my own thinking, I identify parts for students to turn and talk & stop and jot.  I think of what I want them to turn and talk about and jot the “prompt” on a post-it and stick it on the page as a reminder.  I also use post-its to mark places in the text where I’d like students to stop and jot.  This planning helps engage students in the text through opportunities to talk with their partners, write about their thinking, and extend their ideas about the text. 

Happy Reading! :)


  1. This type of planning is well worth the time! My students had an amazing discussion about a character in my current read aloud and how the character's life can mirror real life. The topic hit very close to home for some of my students, thus resulting in an intimate discussion that set the stage for real life lessons to be learned. Even though I didn't get to read as many pages as I planned, my students were none the less deeply engaged in the story and it's characters. I cannot wait for tomorrow's read aloud!

  2. Love this post. I use some lessons from the Comprehension Toolkit to model my thinking aloud with non-fiction text because I think it is difficult for our students. (I teach fifth grade reading in a push-in classroom). I do agree that reading aloud is some of the most important teaching we can do for our students due to the modeling. So beneficial.

  3. Hi M & M,
    I liked this blog, particularly the way you used the think aloud strategy and the post it notes to help the children think deeply as readers.

  4. I liked this blog very much, particularly the way in which you used the think aloud strategy and the post it notes to foster deeper thinking while reading.