Sunday, April 14, 2013

Read Alouds - From Boring to Brilliant

Who remembers when they were young, listening to their teacher (well not really listening) do a read aloud to them?  I'm not talking about a short picture book, I am talking about a chapter book....I remember sitting there, day after day, while my teacher sat at her desk, and me at my desk, and her reading to us, while we sat completely still, thinking about anything else besides the book she was reading.  To be honest, I can't even remember a single title of any read aloud my teacher read that particular year....

I really think my teacher just thought if we did anything besides sit there and be still we wouldn't be able to pay attention to the story.  But in fact the opposite was true.

Now I'm not saying that every child in my classroom is 100% engaged while I am doing a read aloud.... However, I know it is a very high percentage of them.  I know this because they are showing their thinking while I am reading to them.

I have worked very hard this year on modeling explicitly how to show their thinking while reading.  Not just with read alouds, but with independent, shared, and partner reading.  From this modeling, I am confident that my students are thinking critically while they participate in our read alouds.

Here are a few ways we spice up our read alouds in my classroom:


I have an anchor chart on my board with ways that students can show their thinking:
they can make connections, ask questions, visualize, write down vocabulary they are unsure about, write about their feelings, write a summary, etc.  I remind them about all these ways, then I let them go at it while I read.  I use todaysmeet instead of sticky notes, a notepad, or an iPad a lot lately because it gives them a little push to write.  I like todaysmeet because students can see who is writing the comments, other students can read and comment on other students' comments and it is a closed environment.  All I do is set up a room, hand out QR codes that take them to the correct URL and they show their thinking while I am reading.

Draw or Sketch While You Read

My students love to close their eyes and visualize the pictures in their heads, they often sketch in their notebooks or on the iPad what they are visualizing.  Here is an example from a student who drew a picture on her iPad, then uploaded it to her blog.

Use Twitter

We have a classroom Twitter account, so students can tweet out things that we are doing, or respond to what other classes are up to.  One of my students tweeted about reading the book Clementine last week and we had responses from many other classes that are also reading it.  

Use Skype or Google Hangout to Connect To Other Classes 

We are currently reading the book Clementine.  There are 18 other classes reading it at the same time.  We put a tweet out on twitter to see if any other classes were interested in reading a chapter with us.  Last Wednesday we read chapter 2 with another grade 2 class.  This led to a google doc being shared with us comparing the two main characters bedrooms.  Both classes added to the google doc below.

Participate in A Global Read Aloud

Reading the same book at the same time with several other classes is exciting.  Not just for the students, but for the educators too!  You can collaborate on projects, share resources, and have so many more options to extend the text.  My students are currently on Edmodo discussing the book Clementine with 2 other classes.  They not only have their classmates to discuss the book with, but they have other students from around the globe to collaborate with!  Here is the link for The Global Read Aloud 2013 . They are currently voting on which books we will be using.  You can also check on Twitter.  I was lucky enough to see a tweet from Louise Morgan - the #2ndchat moderator (@MrsMorgansClass) announcing they were going to do a global read aloud on the book Clementine, and I signed up!

Create A Class Project To Accompany The Book

I had Jenni Van Rees (@jennivanrees) contact me about us "hosting" one of her Flat Stanleys' for a month.  I of course accepted.  Jenni created a blog for the Stanleys' going out and gave us directions on how to get on the blog to document our adventures.  Since I knew we would be receiving Stanley, I started reading the first Flat Stanley Book.  My students loved the book!  What they loved more though, was thinking of adventures and taking pictures of Flat Stanley at our school.  I even had a child bring in the second book for me to read to the class for our next read aloud. 

Having a Different Person Read A Chapter

Tomorrow, we will be Skyping with Mr. Deluca's (@MrJDeLuca) grade 2 class.  Mr. Deluca will be reading chapter 4 of Clementine to us.  My students love to hear how other people read to them.  Will Mr. Deluca make different character voices?  Will he share some of his connections and thinking with us?  It will be a surprise!

What are some of the exciting things you do to engage your students while you read to them?


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