Teachers in grades 1-5 can use interactive read aloud lessons to teach ANY reading skill or strategy. And guess what…it’s really easy!
That’s right. YOU can teach nearly all of your whole group reading lessons using this super simple lesson style.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – my teaching style is UNCOMPLICATED. Teaching my whole group reading lessons with an interactive read aloud fits this perfectly.
Read on to see exactly how I teach almost all of my whole group reading lessons using a mentor text, sticky notes, and some of my own intuition.
(pssst… I have a special bonus of THREE free interactive read aloud lessons at the very end of this post.)
We know that the gradual release model fits best practices.
This is a model that is a solid standby when teaching your students a new skill. This is a key model for teaching reading.
First the teacher models the skill/strategy that is being taught.
Then the students practice the skill/strategy along with help from the teacher.
Then the student practices the skill/strategy with guidance… followed by the student practicing the strategy independently. An interactive read aloud lesson FITS. THIS. MODEL. PERFECTLY.
You can use an interactive read aloud for EVERY comprehension lesson you teach.
You can even use an interactive read aloud every day of the year.
Let’s take a second to acknowledge a big distinction. There is a difference between a read aloud and an interactive read aloud. An interactive read aloud is not just a read aloud. It’s a lesson that teaches the reader a skill or strategy through a read aloud.
So for each interactive read aloud lesson that you do, you will teach only ONE skill or strategy. You need to focus your efforts on just one thing. Don’t get caught up on trying to touch upon multiple skills in one lesson.
For example, maybe you are teaching an interactive read aloud lesson on making inferences. Well, then the WHOLE read aloud is only focusing on making inferences. Don’t slip in anything about other skills. Nope, you stay focused on just making inferences for the whole lesson. This is because we want to focus all of our effort onto one thing at a time.
Alright, so it’s important to get your hands on RICH mentor texts. You are looking for a text that has depth. So for example, when reading The Girl Who Loves Wild Horses, a strong reader uses a lot of complex reading strategies. Right? It’s a complex book, That what makes it an excellent mentor text.
Now even though I LOVE Magic Tree House books because they can be good for getting some kids interested in reading longer texts, it’s an example of a type of text where the writing is not very complex. So I would say it’s not a very good mentor text.
We have access to many great mentor texts in our school libraries, classroom libraries, or public libraries. You can find book lists organized by skill OR you can just flip through the books you love. If you are looking for a mentor text for a certain skill, you will be able to find it. I usually spend about 10 minutes a week looking through my books with my upcoming reading strategies in mind.
So, remember, the interactive read aloud lesson is focused on teaching only one strategy.
You are going to verbalize what that strategy is. Name it. Describe it. Write it on your whiteboard. Make the learning goal or strategy explicitly clear.
While your students are listening to you read aloud, you want to keep their ears tuned into the strategy. You don’t want them to completely drift off and get lost in the story because it’s a LEARNING LESSON.
Keep that lesson front and center so that everyone knows the skill that they are zoomed in on while you are reading.
After you have introduced the text and named the strategy or skill that you teaching, then YOU will model how YOU use the skill or strategy.
So for example, if the lesson is focused on making inferences, then YOU will make the first inference.
Here’s what this looks like: You begin reading then text. When you come upon a part where the reader needs to make an inference, you pause your reading and talk through your thoughts as a reader on how you make the inference. By modeling, you are showing the students what you want them to be able to do.
After you’ve modeled the skill or strategy, continue reading until you get to a point where you can give your students opportunities to practice using the skill or strategy with your guidance.
So, when we are looking at the gradual release model, this is when you are offering shared instruction because the students are doing it together.
I keep a few things in mind when planning how to make my lesson interactive. First, I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WANT to rely on students raising their hands. YOU KNOW THIS– raising hands is NOT an efficient or effective method for gauging much of anything in your class. It just tells us where ONE kid is at ONE point in the lesson. We don’t have time to check in with every single student.
When you make your lesson interactive, you are checking in with MULTIPLE students, maybe even all of them. So here are three easy ways to make your read aloud interactive…
Turn and Talk Partners
First, set up turn and talk partners ahead of time. I have my students sitting right next to an assigned partner in our reading area. During the read aloud, when I give my students the signal to turn and talk, they know to move their bodies so that they are directly facing their partner so that they can discuss the prompt I have given them.
You can also use sign language during your lesson. So for example, I may poll the class and say, thumbs up if you predict the character will choose option A, thumbs down if you predict they will choose option B.
This quick and easy teaching method dramatically increases the engagement level of everyone in the class.
Stop and Jot
Another method I use is the stop and jot. On days when I plan a quick stop and jot, I ask my students to come to the reading area with a pencil and their reading notebooks. Then, during the read aloud, I may stop and ask the student to write down a reflection. This is another effective way to get every student involved in the lesson.
So there you have it. You, yes YOU, can use an interactive read aloud to teach any skill or strategy?
NEED MORE INFO ABOUT INTERACTIVE READ ALOUD LESSONS?
Are you interested in reading more of my writing about teaching with interactive read aloud lessons? Check out these other blog posts:
- Interactive Read Aloud in 6 Easy Steps
- 4 MUST DO’S When Teaching with an Interactive Read Aloud
- Ten Rules for an Effective Interactive Read Aloud
READY TO TRY IT YOURSELF?
To write effective interactive read aloud lessons yourself, all you need is:
- access to good mentor texts
- sticky notes
- intuitive thoughts about how a strong reader would use the skill/strategy in the mentor text you have chosen
You can totally do it! But if you’d rather use the interactive read aloud lessons I’ve already written and tested in my own classroom, you can find them here.
WANT TO TRY A FEW INTERACTIVE READ ALOUD LESSONS BEFORE BUYING?
If you are teaching reading in grades 2-4, then you need to try this super simple teaching method. I’m happy to give you three of my print-and-go interactive read aloud lessons just by entering your email address and subscribing to my list below! Yay!