Slice of Life: Student Owned Read Aloud

Most days I enter my read aloud with a post it free text and an open mind. This might get me kicked out of the interactive read aloud club that has post its carefully planted at strategic points to teach specific reading moves. But, I have found that my students find more and I find out more about them when I am open to their thinking. 

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of planning and thought that goes into read aloud.

I choose text that present opportunities for my students to think; titles that they could not have accessed on their own.

I plan for the process. I want them to know this is what readers do, and this is how it feels when they do.  I set them up to do the reading work, to know they are readers.

I plan for replicable approaches to text. I plan for conversation and writing.

Today we considered:

Why writers do things.

Chapter 34, “A Star is Born” in Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

I asked, “Before we start, what do you think this title might mean.  Why this title?”

Conversations started in partnerships and grew. I heard:

It’s like a star in Hollywood.

Someone famous.

Maybe it’s about space. Albert loves that.

Stars can mean hope.

Hope is born?

Could it be about Ally having hope now that Mr. Daniels is helping her?

With this replicable beginning to any chapter, students were set up to look for potential lines of thought.

We started. Readers stopped to add to and adjust their theories. They supported and changed their ideas that showed up in conversations.

It’s about Albert being a star.

But he doesn’t want to be famous, he said so, he didn’t want the limelight.

No, it’s about all of them Keisha, Albert, and Ally.

But Ally doesn’t think so. She doesn’t believe.

I still think it’s about hope.

We ended our read aloud and considered a quote from the end of this chapter:

Be careful with eggs and words, because both can’t be fixed.

I asked, “Why did the writer write this? Why did she end this chapter this way?”

To answer this time,  students wrote.

Five minutes passed.

I leaned over N’s notebook.

Eggs can break and they can’t be fixed. Words can be spoken and they can hurt that can’t be taken back. Neither can be fixed.

I said to N, “Hmm, that makes me think of Each Kindness!” I had not seen that connection. I saw it with his words.

Students offered up their thinking with their partners.

Then I asked, “I wonder why the writer used this image of eggs? Add on to your thinking.”

Over T’s shoulder I read:

Ally is like an egg. And connects to the title of the chapter – A Star is Born. It’s like Ally isn’t a star yet. She’s the egg. Like not born. If someone is  mean she could break before she becomes a star.

I could not have planned this. Students own this read aloud.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays: a place to reflect and share our lives. Read more slices here.

13 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Student Owned Read Aloud

  1. We are still reading, too, Julianne. My students asked the other day, “What happened to the Voxer?” I’d love to hear some of your kids share this thinking. We are not that far, yet. But close. When I open up the door with a wonder rather than a question, my students respond more freely. When you say, “I wonder why the author did that?” you are not the keeper of the answer. You are learning and discovering with your students.

  2. Wow, your kiddos obviously feel safe to express their thoughts and courageous too. I, too, sometimes throw out the sticky notes during Read Aloud. I am inspired by the faces of my first graders. I can see that they have thoughts bubbling in their minds and I have them do a lot of turn and talks.

  3. As Margaret said, I like the way you used the word ‘wonder’ in your queries, Julieanne. And all of this shows how deliberately you have taken the children to thoughtful responses to text. I “wonder” how much they do this in their own silent reading, and I “bet” they do it a lot, because of the conversations in read aloud. So many connections in learning!

  4. Students thinking, that’s the goal, right? Love these glimpses into your classroom!
    (BTW, I will be in CA to celebrate Clara’s first birthday Jan. 3)

  5. Enjoyed this commentary on our student owned read aloud. I think a post-it free text is the only way to go; otherwise your post-its are too distracting and maybe too intimidating.

    Sent from my iPad

  6. Love the way you stay “open to their thinking” and the way you open up the classroom by having real, genuine curiosity about their thoughts. This just might just be the way we learn to think — not so much them watching you, but all of us watching each other…together. Thanks for the description.

  7. I’m constantly amazed by my students’ insights and the depth of their thinking. I may have a few “backup” questions planned, but our conversations are almost always guided by their ideas and questions. Thank you for sharing!

  8. It’s so amazing to leave the thinking to the students and see what they actually come up with. You pointed out the quote. They did the work. It’s so critical for students to be thinking and you have amazing evidence of their thinking in this blog post!!! So glad you shared this with all of us!

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