An interactive read aloud is a powerful way to engage all your students in a book while teaching important strategies. Let’s walk through the steps of creating an interactive read aloud lesson for your class.
Choose a book for the interactive read aloud lesson
Choose a book that works with the skills that you want to teach. It should be at students’ listening level, which is often higher than most of their independent reading levels
Keep vocabulary in mind. If it’s too hard, they won’t be able to practice focus skills. Instead, your students will be too busy trying to comprehend.
It should be good literature – an example of a quality book. The book should also be entertaining. You need to be excited about the book so that your students are excited to listen and participate. You want them to be truly engaged in the interactive read aloud lesson that you’ve created.
Also think about genre, diversity and opportunities for addressing vocabulary, skills and strategies.
Get to know (and love) the book
Next, read your text thoroughly. Get to really know and love the book. You may end up reading it aloud several times, so make sure it’s a good one!
Reading aloud to kids is instruction, so having knowledge of the text is important. The richest discussion points are more meaningful when you prepare them in advance. You can do the most with a read-aloud when you are the master of the text, so you need to know where it’s headed.
When reading ahead of time, find places where you naturally respond as a reader – those will be your stopping points! Depending on the difficulty or complexity of the text, consider practicing reading it aloud to make sure you are comfortable.
Set a purpose
Now we need to set a purpose for you read-aloud. Are you going to be modeling a comprehension strategy? Teaching a particular standard? Practice thinking about a text?
Determine the focus skills. Skills that you are working on as a class. Choose only 2-3 focus skills at a time so that students get explicit instruction and practice. Depending on whether your book is fiction or nonfiction, will determine your focus skills.
Each time you read the text aloud, you will choose different focus skills. Reading strategies are better for the first read. While a common core focus is better for a second time around. Standards are easier to practice after students have heard the story a few times.
Select vocabulary words
Through interactive read alouds, we are also giving explicit instruction on vocabulary. Choose 3-4 words to focus on. They should be common, important and functional words. They should be words that students need to know in order to understand the book.
Utilize kid friendly definitions and pictures to help explain its meaning. Model and use repetition to practice the words. Then interact with the words by writing or dictating sentences, drawing pictures, and comparing words.
Teach the words as they come up in the book. Students can predict using context clues to figure out the meaning. It’s a hard skill, so it’s good to practice often. However, if you have ELL students, pre-teach the words so that they’ll better understand them when they appear in the story.
Plan questions and activities for the interactive read aloud
For the last step, we are going to plan questions and engagement strategies to go with the text. Questions should be open-ended in order to create conversation. Think about where students might experience difficulty understanding meaning woven into the text. Use text-based questions, only if students need additional support.
Plan for before, during and after the read-aloud. Be strategic about where and when you stop to engage with the text. If you stop too much, the flow of the story will be interrupted. You need to stop often enough to focus on the skills.
Before: Identify title, author, illustrator and purpose for reading. Sneak peek at the book. Activate background knowledge and schema. Make predictions. These can all be done quickly!
During: Question and response, discussion and sharing
After: Wrap up book
To save you some time, I have interactive read alouds that are already done for you! Just choose the topic that you are working on in class and you are all set!
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