Guest post by Marissa — thank you!
As a third grade ICT classroom teacher, I find the use of read alouds to be a staple of my reading instruction. Read alouds can be used in a variety of ways to enhance literacy instruction. According to Richard Allington, (and perhaps all of us folks at TC), students must hear fluent adult readers to become stronger readers themselves. Read alouds are a great way to expose all children to a fluent adult reader. As students listen to the way a fluent and accurate reader reads, they too will mimic and engrain this characteristic into their own reading. I really like to incorporate voices, tone, feeling, and even add a bit “drama” into my read alouds. Not only does the book become more alive and engaging, but also students truly hear what a fluent reader sounds like.
Crunched for time? Don’t cut out read alouds! Not only do students absolutely love them, but you can also often time work in mini-lessons using your read aloud. I have used our read aloud book as a great example to teach a variety of reading skills, but also talk about themes and ideas. For example, when teaching our character study unit, I have many students reading at in the J-M reading band. Unfortunately, many characters within these bands may not change or grow over the course of the book. Using Because of Winn-Dixie (although a higher level book) was a great way to expose these lower leveled readers to the same curriculum and content. Through active modeling, scaffolding, and discussion, these students were able to work with the concept of a character changing throughout the book. Because all students are exposed to the same text, you can use these read alouds throughout the year to teach lessons and draw connections.
Students at all ages benefit and enjoy read alouds. It’s not only a great way for your classroom to come together as a community, but it is also a great way for your students to see you as an avid reader. They get to step into your mind, the mind of a strong and practiced reader, and use you as a mentor. You can be a strong reading mentor by stopping and articulating think alouds. This will require you to make note of things you are actually thinking as you are reading (this does not to be done in advance because often times we don’t even realize what our minds are doing as we read!) Read alouds are great tools to incorporate reading instruction & modeling daily while also exposing all students to a fluent adult reader. In my four years of teaching, I have never met a student who didn’t enjoy read aloud time. So if we can be engaging our students while also empowering them with strong reading skills & strategies, then…why not?