So you want to plan a teacher read-aloud? As educators, we have been told time and time again how read-alouds are important. It’s so important to really think about what we want to accomplish, move on to planning our read-aloud, and then prepping what we need. Today I’m going to share exactly how I begin to plan a read-aloud lesson. Read on or press play for more!
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When it comes to a book selection, the first thing that I think about is my focus. Am I just reading this book to share an enjoyable read-aloud with my class? Or are there literacy standards that I need to cover? It is also possible to do this all at the same time! My goal is to find quality literature! So what do I look for?
I’m on the hunt for books that have engaging characters (meaning that students can relate to them), and they have to be diverse. As a self-described bibliophile, I would visit the library often as a child, and there just weren’t many characters who looked like me. So I am always on the hunt for books that are reflective of the students in my classroom. Nothing will derail your read-aloud time than having tons of books with characters that students can’t relate to.
Language & Illustrations
The next place I look is language. We know that these days students are coming into our classrooms and their vocabulary deficit is huge. So it’s more important than ever to pick books with rich language. When students hear this language, they begin to use it in their conversations. And eventually, this will show up in their writing.
The next thing that I look for is illustrations. I will tell you, I have picked up books just on the illustrations alone. If the illustrations grab me, then I am in! Before I ever read a word! The same is true of your students. If the pictures don’t grab their attention, then they are done.
When they don’t necessarily understand all of the words, the visual storytelling will pull them in.
So, quick recap……I think about how the books I’m choosing can be used to introduce a new author, an illustrator, a topic of study, a new type of book, word patterns, and/or vocabulary.
Cozy Place to Listen to a Book
The next thing I like to think about is a cozy place to listen to a book. There’s nothing more I love than cozy places. We know that the attention span of students has definitely shortened over the years. So I love to bring them in closer so that they can feel like they’re right there with the story, by creating an area specifically for read-alouds. It makes it special, because all of the students are coming together. So in addition to being comfy, I want to make sure that it is cozy.
I’ve never had a rug in my room, but I LOVE to use those colorful foam mats.
Conversations Around the Story
Another thing I like to think about is the conversations that we will have around the story. So as I said earlier, I always notice the illustration, especially the cover illustration. So then I bring it to the attention of the students. I ask them, what do they notice? What do they think will happen? Just from looking at the illustration on the cover. During reading, I like to remind students if we have read a previous story by the same author, and I help students to make connections between their real-life experiences and their reading experiences.
Then eventually I encourage them to start making their own connections. Next, we have to read the story with appropriate expression. Don’t be boring! I make all of the noises. I use everything on my desk to make noises. If an animal in the story is knocking on the door, I’ll knock on my desk and their eyes are like, what is that?!?!?!
When you read your stories also make eye contact with your listeners while you’re reading. They love it. I don’t know why, but they do probably because it makes them feel like they’re part of the story. After reading, ask the students who their favorite characters were in the story, what did they get from the story?
Ask them about their favorite illustrations. Ask them to retell the story or find different solutions to the problems that the story presented, and encourage them to respond to the reading of the story in different ways.
So during this time, you will be doing a lot of modeling and it’s okay. But like I always say model, model, model, and then model some more. So several times throughout the day I will pick or read aloud and we may not have a focus. I may not want to pick out a comprehension strategy or anything to go along with it. But other times I do, when I want to pull something out of a story, I have these story task cards that I keep at the front of my classroom. You can grab your free set right here.