Read alouds are not just a one-sided exercise in which the teacher reads and the children listen. Teachers should use read alouds to demonstrate effective reading habits to students.There are several skills that teachers can model and practice before, during and after each read aloud to reinforce important beginning reading skills as well as comprehension skills that are crucial to the understanding of text.
Choose a book or story that the children like. If your students are interested in the topic, they will pay close attention. Give kids a chance to have input about the reading selections by giving them a choice of three books and allowing them to vote for which one they want you to read.
Teach kids how to make predictions by previewing the book. This skill is important because it prompts kids to begin thinking critically. Predicting can begin in kindergarten. Show kids the cover of the book and skim through the pages looking at pictures. Ask the children to tell you what they think is going to happen based on what the pictures show.
Model pronunciation of difficult words by using comprehension strategies and phonics rules. When you come to a word that may be problematic for your students, show them how to use strategies like context clues to figure out the meaning of the word, which sometimes helps them pronounce it. Then demonstrate decoding skills like breaking a word down into parts then blending the parts together to sound out the word.
Make the read aloud interactive by asking thought-provoking questions. This can be done during and after the reading. An effective method is to pair students so they can learn to share responses with each other. This also teaches them to express their opinions about what they read. Ask questions that require more than recall of facts. Get them to speculate on the characters' motives and compare them to their own prior experiences.
Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.