Professional Development

September 5, 2020

Virtual Shared Reading: A Step-by-Step Guide

One of the balanced literacy components my students always loved was shared reading. They loved getting to read fun poems, read big books, and sing songs. I loved the opportunity to model fluent reading and how to think like a reader. As distance learning for many is beginning this fall, I wanted to take a look at how to do virtual shared reading.

Just because you may not have physical students in front of you, they can still greatly benefit from shared reading. Virtual shared reading will be slightly different than our regular in-person shared reading, but the benefits and enjoyment will be the same!

How to do Virtual Shared Reading

1. Choose a poem, song, or big book to use with your students.

You can choose any song, poem, or big book that you think would be a good fit for your class. Some things to consider are:

  • Does it have sight words?
  • Does it naturally lead to some phonics practice?
  • Will my students enjoy reading this?
  • Can I identify some teaching points the text would lend itself to?

In kindergarten, I loved to use mostly songs and poems. Then, in first grade, I transitioned more to big books. You can use shared reading time to integrate any themes you might be teaching or to easily integrate science topics throughout the day.

If you have favorite poems from years past, just pull those out, type them up into a Google Slide, and you’ll be set!

2. Share your screen to share the poem with your students.

Use Zoom or another live meeting platform to share your screen with your students. I would suggest taking a screenshot of your poem and putting it in Google Slides or another program that you can annotate on. The goal is for students to be able to see the poem and for you to be able to mark on it.

3. Set a purpose for reading and read the poem.

Prior to reading, the teacher sets the purpose for reading and chooses a teaching point. This is the heart of shared reading. If your teaching point is strong and meaningful, this can be a powerful part of your day. Shared reading is a great opportunity to provide:

  • support to struggling readers
  • practice fluency
  • build sight word knowledge
  • allow students to practice a text they feel successful reading

Next, model reading the poem aloud with fluency and expression. Let the students read the poem with you. If you have younger readers, they can repeat after you line by line if needed.

4. Use the poem to build in sight word practice or phonics lessons.

Look for opportunities to practice sight words or phonics. You can have students identify sight words in the poem, you circle them, and then students can write them three times fast on a piece of paper.

For phonemic awareness and phonics, you can have students identify rhyming words, syllables, beginning/middle/ending sounds, etc. Students can use whiteboards at home or plain paper to record responses. Whatever they have access to will work!

5. Give students a copy of the poem to practice with at home.

You can email the poem to students or share it through your learning platform so students can read the poems at home throughout the year. They love coming back to a text that they know they can successfully read.

Where to Find Poems

You can use any poem or song for virtual shared reading that you want. For kindergarteners, you can use this FREE poem on my blog.

Next, you can use the monthly shared reading poems I created that integrate science topics. Each month has four poems – one for each week. Each week’s poem also has a whole group phonics activity and two student phonics activity pages. If you want to save the most, grab the year-long bundle with 36 poems and coordinating activities.

Finally, I have a Shared Reading Print-and-Go resource. It has ten poems as well as five days worth of quick-practice for students to do.

Take the 15 minutes a day for virtual shared reading to help boost your readers, provide meaningful practice, and build their confidence.

Happy Teaching,


8 Get to Know You Games for Distance Learning

Getting to know your students can be trickier while distance learning. Grab this FREE printable with eight get-to-know-you games and activities so that you can start connecting with students, help them get to know each other, and build a positive classroom community.

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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2 Responses

  1. Amanda, how do you actually show big books virtually? I have several shared reading big books that I would love to use but don’t know how to show them virtually.

    1. Hi Paula! I would set up the big book on an easel, or a makeshift one, and zoom in on the text as much as possible! I have used a chalkboard sandwich board (that was home decor) and my carpet to help hold up the big book in the past!

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