Read Alouds as Anchor for Student Learning in Integrated Literacy Programs
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What role does interactive read aloud play in an effective literacy block?
Read Aloud is one part of an effective literacy block. If our goal as teachers is for students to be able to confidently and competently read, understand, and produce complex texts, then we need to read, talk about, and model complex texts. To this end we start with modeling (“I do it”) provide opportunities for guided practice (“We do it”), before we ask students to demonstrate independent practice (“You do it”). On an axis of gradual release of responsibility, read aloud lies on one end of a continuum, with the highest level of teacher support and the lowest level of student independence. If we situate the other literacy practices along this continuum, the other end of the continuum would be independent reading.
It is purposeful talk which makes the difference between effective and ineffective literacy practices. An adult reading out loud to a child does not mean that learning happened. It is the talk about the text, the interaction with others about the thinking, and the constructing of ideas that helps children build knowledge. The way read aloud is situated in literacy practice can leverage this learning engagement as an opportunity for modeling and guided support.
First: Consider how does interactive read aloud fit into current literacy block? In a small group of 2-3, teachers should do a literacy practices sort to find match instructional purposes, types of text, group setting.
Facilitator's note: Print the literacy sort card deck, preferably in color and cut up boxes. Make enough so that each small group has one set.
Next: Write the names of the literacy practices on index cards. Make a table that shows the gradual release of responsibility (see below). Then, teachers decide collaboratively where the literacy practice is placed on the chart.
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