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Interactive Read Aloud

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Many people see interactive read alouds as just a free for all. You pick a book off the shelf at random, open it up, and read to your students for 10-15 minutes; however, it is SOOOOOOO much more than that. Or should be at least. Every moment you have with your students is VITAL. If you aren’t explicitly teaching them thought out and planned skills throughout your read alouds, you’re doing them a disservice and it’s definitely time for a read aloud revival. Which leads me to the interactive read aloud with accountable talk…

What Is An Interactive Read Aloud?

An interactive read aloud is when a teacher reads a pre-planned and purposeful book to the class, while asking higher order questions and thinking aloud throughout the reading of the book. Students actively listen and discuss the story during the read aloud. This is an engaging way to have your students develop higher order level thinking skills, comprehend various texts, and discuss the book all in one.

Read Aloud Benefits

There are so many positives to including a read aloud with accountable talk into your daily reading block. Here are a few of my favorite reasons:

  1. You get a chance to share your favorite stories and some really fun read aloud books
  2. You will encourage a life-long love of reading
  3. You will develop higher level thinking skills within your students
  4. You will build upon your classroom community
  5. You will develop stronger vocabulary

Interactive Read Aloud Strategies

Now that you know what an interactive read aloud is, let’s talk about how you should implement read alouds in your classroom.

  1. Consider the unit, theme, skill, or lesson that you are currently teaching. Do you have a book that would tie into one of these flawlessly?
  2. Read through the text, planning out places that you can develop higher level thinking skills and increase discussion.
  3. Write down the words you will say word for word on a sticky note and place it on each page you will think aloud or have your students interact. (More about this below, with scripted examples).
  4. Have your students paired (before you begin read alouds) with a turn and talk partner. This is essential in keeping your students engaged and keeping them on task. I’ve been in classrooms where students don’t have specific partners and it’s a mess! Students turn to whoever and it takes quite awhile to find a partner, plus someone always gets left out.
  5. Be sure to include both Fiction and Non Fiction stories during your read aloud time. Sometimes I will couple these together in the same week. For example, I may use the Fiction read aloud book “Tacky the Penguin” one day and then a Nonfiction read aloud that teaches all about penguins the next.

What Can Be Taught In An Interactive Read Aloud With Accountable Talk?

Various skills like predicting, envisioning, monitoring for meaning, inferring and so much more, can be taught within a read aloud. First, you need to think of a skill that you want your students to master. Then, find a book that has enough stopping points where you AND your students can model thinking aloud with the skill. I try to find 2 places where I can model and 1 or 2 places where the students can turn and talk, using the skill. You can grab a copy of my scripted sentence stems for your think aloud/model and your students active engagement HERE. These read aloud stems will help you explicitly teach whichever skill you have in mind.

Sentence Stems in Interactive Read Alouds

I often give my students sentence stems to use when they turn and talk. This builds on their vocabulary and enriches their academic language. It also ensures that your read alouds are thought out with purposeful think aloud moments. Here’s some examples of stems for each skill.

read aloud with accountable talk

I like to print these out on bright colored paper so it’s easier to locate, hole punch the top corner, and hold them together with a binder ring. This makes for easy storage on the back of my easel, near my read aloud basket.

read aloud stems

Clip these interactive read aloud sentence stems on a ring for easy storage and planning!

Sticky Note Organization

Earlier I mentioned that interactive read aloud books should be preplanned and purposeful. Not only should the skill and book be thought out, but exactly what you want to say and your students to say should also be planned and written on sticky notes. Place the sticky notes where you plan to speak and have your students speak. I know sometimes we forget exactly what we wanted to say at the moment we wanted to say it, so this will ensure that you are stopping exactly where you wanted and that you say what you had planned out.

books for read aloud

So after years of redoing sticky notes each year, I had an AHA moment and added these spiffy library card holders to the inside covers of my read alouds. I labeled the outside with the skill and hold all my sticky notes inside of them when they’re not in use. Make your life a gazillion times easier and get yourself THESE same holders… It will cut down your prep time like crazy for years to come.

books for read aloud

I also got even smarter one day and started labeling the page numbers to place them on– It was a complete game changer for me. Every few weeks when I’m changing accountable talk skills, I choose the books that I want to read and pull out the already completed sticky notes to place on the pages that it says. Hellooooooo time saver!!!

Books for Read Aloud

The books pictured above are Silly Doggy by Adam Stower and Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox. They’re both fabulous reads that your students will love.

When Will I Have the Time?

At first, you may want to do the read aloud sticky notes all by yourself so you have a better understanding of the format and how to execute it all correctly. I get that at first, this system for organizing read alouds may seem tedious and like a big ‘ol waste of time, but I swear it pays off. Your students will grow tremendously in their reading capabilities and vocabulary with just a few dedicated minutes to read aloud with accountable talk each day.   Once you get used to the new read aloud system, you could split the work with your grade level team. If everyone takes one book a week to sticky note with a skill, and then rotates the book with their team members, you should have enough solid read alouds to last you for an entire week (depending on the size of your team, of course)!!! Happy Reading! 🙂

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One Comment

  1. I love your discovery for time management and accountable thinking and talking. Three kinder teachers and I developed questions, put them on sticky notes (w/ the page number on the note) and placed the notes on the pages. We did this to help build our small pull out groups for children who were shy and struggling with participating in large groups. We also had a list of many skills from which we could choose, all CC aligned, and relevant to the books.

    The best thing about this small pull out group that I learned? Children became so relaxed and easily participated when holding the book as they were describing the pictures and wondering about the book! They owned those moments and their confidence was solidly built using this strategy, versus me holding the book and asking a child.
    Deborah Ridley-Kern

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