Why Reading Teachers Should Do Interactive Read Alouds & Tips on How to Implement Them

Date
Oct, 30, 2019

Do you do daily read alouds in your reading block? Have you tried interactive read alouds? Interactive read alouds are a great way to engage your students while you’re reading. You can use interactive read alouds to teach or reteach reading skills from your lesson. More importantly, interactive read alouds are great way to trick your students into learning reading skills! #interactivereadalouds #readaloud #readalouds #readaloudtips

I love reading to my students, but I didn’t always see the benefits. Before I started reading daily to my kiddos, I would read to them maybe once or twice a month. Of course, I was reading stories from the textbook or passages, but no one taught me the benefits of read alouds with a book.

In 2016, I went to a Comprehension Toolkit Training that explained how to do interactive read alouds. I bought in once I saw the presenter show us how to do an interactive read aloud with students. We went to a classroom and saw her implement our training. It was teacher life-changing! Now I do interactive read alouds daily! Check out how and why I changed how I teach reading.

Why I Do Read Alouds

I stopped caring about the state test and began caring more about exposing my students to books. I wanted them to know reading is more than preparing for a test. Reading is fun! Before doing read alouds daily, a lot of my students didn’t enjoy reading. Why? Because we were reading passages daily. They thought that’s what reading is all about.

Also, many of my students struggle with standardized tests because they aren’t able to make connections, and they need exposure to more vocabulary. At one of my schools, the constant complaint was that our students lack the background knowledge to understand what they’re reading. Well, reading the right books helps expose them to more vocabulary and builds background knowledge.

Why Are the Read Alouds Interactive?

I want my students to apply what we’re learning in class to books. There is a disconnect when we only use passages and the textbook to help students learn reading skills. They have a hard time applying it to books. Asking them questions and letting them use the skills we are learning in class helps them see the real-world application.

I also like that students respond to my questions by writing down their answers. So my students don’t just sit and get; they are actively involved in the read aloud. Those students that don’t like sharing their responses to the class still have to have an answer. No one gets to opt-out. But, if you ask engaging questions, you’ll be surprised, even your quietest student will want to share.

Interactive read alouds also allows students to discuss books. A lot of students don’t know how to talk about books other than saying they like a book or don’t like a book. Interactive read alouds allows them to make connections and think about the reasoning why the author wrote the book in a particular way.

Do you do daily read alouds in your reading block? Have you tried interactive read alouds? Interactive read alouds are a great way to engage your students while you’re reading. You can use interactive read alouds to teach or reteach reading skills from your lesson. More importantly, interactive read alouds are great way to trick your students into learning reading skills! #interactivereadalouds #readaloud #readalouds #readaloudtips

How Do I Pick Books?

I sometimes have a theme (women in science, sharks, Black History Month,etc.). Having a theme is a great way to reinforce an idea, culture, etc. that you want your students to know.

Sometimes I pick books I’ve seen on Pinterest. I’ll usually search around my theme, or I’ll search read alouds for upper elementary. Using Pinterest is usually how I find my books.

I also pick books based on students’ interests. Student interest is essential because this allows students to be involved in book selections. My current students want to learn more about the world. So this year, I’m picking books from places around the world simply because it’s what they want.

I also select books appropriate for my students’ grade level. Sometimes I’ll put a book back if it is too simple or too hard. Sometimes, you can turn a simple text into a complex activity. Overall all though, your books should be age-appropriate.

The last thing to think about when choosing books is to have a variety of genres. Don’t only do fiction or nonfiction every day. Mix it up; this helps keep your students engaged. I made this mistake when I first started doing interactive read alouds. I was doing too many nonfiction, and my students were getting burnt out. On the flip side, if you do only fiction, your students will have a hard time enjoying a nonfiction book.

How Do I Address Standardize Testing?

Since the interactive read alouds use more instructional time than traditional read alouds, I like to make sure I’m addressing the standards that are tested. So, I use question stems to write the questions. I don’t use the question stems as a script, but I use them so that my students are familiar with the language used on the tests.

How Long Do Interactive Read Alouds Take?

I spend 25-30 minutes doing a read aloud. If it were a regular read aloud, they would only take 10-15 minutes. Since it is interactive, I frequently stop while reading to ask questions and allow discussions, and this uses a significant amount of time. Since I use a lot of instructional time, my book choices and questioning are essential. If a book is too long, I’ll find a place to stop and continue the read aloud the following day.

How to Prepare for Your Interactive Read Aloud?

Pick your books and make sure they are relevant and grade appropriate for the grade you teach. Scan the book to make sure you can ask meaningful questions. If the book isn’t a good fit, don’t force it. Return the book or read it for fun!

Next, read your books at least twice. Multiple reads allow you to understand the text and help you write the best questions. Remember, since you are spending a nice amount of class reading, you want to make sure you maximize what you can do with the book. When you think of questions on the fly, you miss a lot of opportunities to ask thoughtful questions.

When you’re ready to develop questions, try to stick to 4-5. Try not to ask more than 4-5 questions because you don’t want to spend more than 30 minutes reading a book. If you have a longer book, ask 4-5 questions one day and ask more the next day you continue reading. When you write your questions, put them on a sticky note and put them on the page where you want to stop and ask questions.

I hope all of this information makes sense! Check out my YouTube video all about my why & how I use interactive read alouds daily! Comment below for any tips for me or others! Sharing is caring!

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Melissa Nikohl

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