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.