Do’s and Don’ts of Read-Aloud

Published July 22, 2013 by Mrs. Malo

I am a few days behind so I am trying to catch up on my blog posts before we go to Boston tomorrow.  Chapter 4 is a short chapter that is a list of Do’s and Don’ts for Reading Aloud.  I thought I would just comment on a few that really resonated with me.

The first thing that I have really been thinking about for a few days now was sparked by reading the Managing Interruptions post on Teach Preschool from an interview with Jim Trelease.  Trelease discusses interruptions by both reader and listener.  I understand and agree with his comments on student interruptions – managing them is a skill.  It is interruptions by the teacher that I have more of a struggle with.  When we are learning how to ‘teach’ Read Alouds much of the focus is on ‘Thinking Aloud’.  In Ontario a lot of this is outlined in Guide to Effective Instruction in Reading.

In the think-aloud process, the teacher models reading strategies – that is, the teacher says aloud to the students what he or she is thinking in order to make meaning of the text.

I understand Trelease’s comments on maintaining the flow of the story and avoiding stopping but there are times when teaching that it is useful to stop and ‘think aloud’.  The goal for a teacher is to determine when it is more valuable to comment and when it is better just  to keep reading.  A few points in this chapter discuss this idea.

  • As you red keep listeners involved by occasionally asking, “What do you think is going to happen next? (page 74)

  • When you come to a part of the story that the audience might not sense is important, pause and then whistler, “Mmmmmmmm.  That could be important”.

I think that while considering this, often as a teacher I sometimes ‘Think aloud’ a bit too often.

Here are a few other Do’s that jumped out at me:

Set aside at lease one consistent time each day for a story. (page 73)

I need to work on this one in my class.  I think it may be first think in the morning but as I work on my daily schedule for next year I need to find a way to schedule in a time every day.

Allow your listeners a few minutes to settle down and adjust their bodies and minds to the story. (page 74)

In my class we sing a lot, and often our singing indicates transitions.  I have been looking for a while for a song to sing with the the class to signal that it is time for a Read-Aloud.

Create a wall chart or back-of-the-bedroom-door book chart so the child or class can see how much as been read (page 76)

I love this idea, I just need to find the way that works in my class.

Chapter 5 up next, if I don’t get it read today it will probably not be posted until next weekend.

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2 comments on “Do’s and Don’ts of Read-Aloud

  • I agree, part of what a teacher is giving to their students is the “thinking process” behind reading a book which will naturally lead to some interrupting of a book. I suppose one could say that the most important thing we can give a child isn’t the mini-lessons found inside the cover of a book but instead giving the children first and foremost the love for a story, plot, and characters so that they will fall in love with the book and ultimately want to read it on their own. I suspect your thoughts here represent many of us in the teaching field:)

  • I know exactly what you mean. I agree with you and Deborah that thinking aloud is very important. And that’s part of what I do with my “interruptions.” But this chapter made me think that I need to be intentional in my interrupting. Sometimes I do it too much. And I need to think about the purpose of the current read aloud. Sometimes reading through for plot, character, and story is the reason. Other times I’m modeling and developing reading strategies. Jim reminded me to make sure the things I do are purposeful and not just my whims. Thanks for your thoughts. I think we are on the same track of thinking.

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