Reflections on My Year Part 1: Read Aloud

 

images-2 It’s summertime. Time to reflect on practices that worked and areas that need some work. Time to dig a little deeper..

Today I’m thinking about reading and specifically interactive read aloud. My reflection here is based on a mixture of data: what my students reported directly, my observations (so often documented with pictures)  and reading assessments of many types.

My reflections on our reading year is filtered through the lens of two goals: 1) that students walk away knowing that reading is a place to find learning and joy and 2) they know how to find this on their own. If they come out with these two things, I believe they will keep reading.

My students rate read aloud as the best part of the day. The interesting aspect of this is why.  So I asked. Results of their responses are interesting.

Scratching the surface of why —  it seems to be for the pure entertainment of story or the fascination of figuring something out. Students want to know what comes next or understand the why or how of something.  Digging deeper into student thinking, students love read aloud because of the  laughter, suspense, wonder, fear, sadness, and knowledge they get from it.  Another thing that comes up for so many students is coming together to experience these big emotions and learning as one: to talk about it, question it, figure it out, all together. Some revel in the fact that when I do the reading work they are free to do the thinking work.

Being that read aloud is interactive, not passive, there is a fair amount of opportunity to access the text independently while read aloud is going on. I project the text as I read it, so students can see what I’m seeing and get that much closer to how I’m doing it. I show my thinking when I stop and wonder, or figure it out in an attempt to demonstrate all the things that readers do.

imgresI give them a chance to wonder, to jot, to turn to share what they think; to think beside me.  I chart, they chart.  I ask them to read/think with purpose, to read/think closely.  They try, I listen in to conversations or collect their jotted thinking to figure out how closely they are to riding that bike on their own.  This is practice of how it feels to read and think deeply, connecting the pieces.

In the beginning of a book, I  purposefully request their noticings; building class understandings with collected post its and comments. Because I control the pace of the reading, it makes getting students to take more control of the reading work tricky. My goal has been to move them towards holding on to their noticings and add them together to get develop understanding across the text. The more students hold on to and connect it to a stopping point, it seems the more they are growing as thinkers.

This is just one part of a literate classroom and students accessed it on different levels this year, but each walked away from read aloud loving the books we read and gaining skills they used during read aloud.

  • Collecting know and wonders
  • Noticing what repeats (again and again)
  • Sketching scenes to help visualize moments
  • Writing on graffiti walls to hold quotes that matter
  • Using post it parking lots to make thinking visible
  • Writing longer about what noticings/wonderings make you think.
  • Extending talk with thought prompts
  • Going back over text to pull words and lines to wonder about and  to hold on to
  • Re reading with a  specific lens
  • Making connections between multiple texts’ language and ideas

Looking back over the list, many students were not able to access certain strategies (in bold) without support. And it’s not surprising. These are the tasks that are higher on the continuum of understanding literature.

With this in mind, I start out the year aware and focused on what purposeful support I need to provide next year’s kiddos.

  • More whole group and small group lessons around each of these trouble spots
  • Partner/group work to support each of these areas
  • Many opportunities to talk and then write longer about their thinking
  • More writing about reading that bridges into the writing workshop

Lots of this looks like more talking and writing about their reading. Practicing what is a bit tougher to do. Making it audible and visible.

Next reflection, that reading notebook.

 

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Reflections on My Year Part 1: Read Aloud

  1. Julieanne, WOW! This is a terrific reflection and a great explanation of interactive notebook. This is what we are planning and talking about in camp today. I’m going to share your post as a valuable resource! I can always count on you!! (By the way, tomorrow…we are talking about reading notebooks…writing notebooks too!) I feel like we are on the same wave length…even though we are on different coasts. Amazing!!!

  2. Thanks Michelle! I’d love to hear about your thoughts on reading and writing notebooks. Reading Linda Rief’s book Read Write Teach. It’s making me rethink how to use them. Keep me posted!

  3. Thanks Julieanne, loved this post, particularly the last third in which you describe the skills your students gained but also highlighted the ones they still need more scaffolding with. With my Grade 4 we practised some of the skills you named first. Next year I should/would spend more time on the latter half of the list – except I will be a foreign language teacher. Perhaps I will be able to use some of them anyway…

    • Interesting move to a foreign language class. I’d hope many of the moves would prove useful whenever we are trying to get at meaning. Good luck with that new position.

  4. Moving to 6th and with only 48 minutes for both reading and writing, I am afraid read-aloud might be something which fades away. I hope not because of all the benefits and lessons learned as you pointed out in your post. Looking forward to reading about your reflection on reading notebooks.

    • That is such a challenging time frame! I’ve been reading Linda Rief, Donalyn Miller and Penny KIttle. They all have really good ideas about the time issue. I think read aloud is so powerful I”m sure you will find a way to keep it alive!

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