Erica has been a licensed secondary educator for over two decades. She currently serves as a high school literacy coach.
A Strategy that Works! Reading aloud to your students has a powerful impact on their comprehension and learning. A read-aloud is a short yet powerful way to demonstrate effective reading techniques to move your students beyond a superficial reading level and encourage them to engage with materials more deeply.
During a read-aloud, you will alternate reading a selected text to your class with engaging with the text aloud. This demonstrates the mental process of actively reading a text. A read-aloud allows you an opportunity to demonstrate reading strategies, wonder out loud, and model what good readers do when they don’t know a word or struggle with understanding a portion of the text. While you model, it is helpful to jot notes made visible to students (ideally on a whiteboard or large notepad). Some questions to consider as you prepare for your read-aloud are listed below:
- Which words or phrases in the passage are familiar/ confusing? (identify meaning of words using contextual clues)
- What is important in the passage/paragraph? How do we know? (identify key textual evidence)
- What resonates with what we already know about (author/setting/topic) from other things we’ve learned about or experienced?”
Read-alouds require a short (typically 5-7 minutes) amount of class time but can be very impactful on student learning. This is an excellent way to start a reading assignment with the class. Take the text you have assigned and read the first 2-3 paragraphs with them out loud while stopping to engage with the text.
There are so many things you can do after doing a read-aloud with your students. I’ve provided a few ideas below, but the most important thing you can do after a read-aloud is do it again and again! Students will benefit tremendously from teachers consistently demonstrating and reinforcing literacy skills across the curriculum.
Close Reading: If you use the read-aloud to begin a reading assignment with your students, after modeling, you can have students continue to read the remainder of the text by themselves. Encourage them to take notes in the manner modeled using their notebooks or a graphic organizer you provide.
Student Modeling: If you do not intend to use the read aloud to introduce an assignment, another great way you can engage your students is by allowing them to select a short excerpt to bring for a read-aloud they prepare for in advance. Some suggestions include an article on a topic of interest to them, an excerpt from their favorite book, their textbook, or even a post they find on social media (while this is going to be a shorter text, there are so many opportunities to talk about opinion versus fact as well as credibility of a piece). This is a great tool for formative assessment as it allows the students to show they understand how to actively and effectively engage with the text. Have them prepare by creating questions to go along with the text so they know what to propose during their read-aloud on their assigned day. It’s imperative to keep in mind that this isn’t an activity you can just assign to your students without ample demonstration. Your students need to be familiar with the process as well as the expectations of a read-aloud before they prepare for one of their own.
*This should not take a lot of class time. I suggest using the last 10 minutes of class to have students model a read aloud.
Cooperative Talk: This is another strategy to use after a read-aloud. Now that you have read the text out loud to the class, your students have the shared experience of listening to the text. You can have students turn to the student next to them and discuss what has just been read. I suggest providing them with guided questions or having them jot down thoughts and questions as they listen to you read. This encourages reciprocal learning and allows you to listen to students and collect data to inform your instruction.
Teacher Read-Aloud That Models Reading for Deep Understanding This is a two part strategy guide for putting the read-aloud strategy to practice in your secondary classroom.
High 5 Reading Strategies This article explores the 5 separate strategies that together help students understand the material by directing their attention to the important details.
7 reading strategies to improve reading comprehension Explore 7 cognitive strategies that you can implement to help improve your students overall reading comprehension.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Erica Gourley