When you hear the words “interactive read aloud”, what comes to mind? Many teachers think it’s just a great read aloud that students enjoy and have conversations about. While this is correct, there is so much more to an interactive read aloud! This powerful time of day allows us to not only connect with students but provides an opportunity to teach and model important reading strategies and skills. Let’s dive into exactly what interactive read alouds are and how to use them in the primary classroom.
What is an Interactive Read Aloud?
Fountas and Pinnell define the interactive read aloud with the following statement: “Interactive read-aloud is a whole-group instructional context in which you read aloud a selected text to the whole class, occasionally and selectively pausing for conversation.”
This whole-group time of day consists of the teacher reading a mentor text aloud while the students listen and view the illustrations. The mentor text should be on the students listening level, not their reading instructional level. You will stop at certain points throughout the book that lend to a teaching point. You may also have students turn and share with a partner (think, pair, share) to foster meaningful conversations and discussions about the text.
Why Are They Important?
First, this important time of day allows us to connect with our students and grow a classroom community that feels like a little family. Through conversations and sharing, we all learn a lot about each other, which allows us all to better relate and understand each other.
The interactive read aloud time also allows us to expose students to rich, engaging texts that they may not be able to read on their own, but they will still be age-appropriate. No matter what a student’s reading level, decoding ability, or reading skillset is, they will all be able to enjoy and learn during this time because it’s on their listening level. Books on their listening levels also allow for rich vocabulary opportunities for you to think aloud about and share with students! Through your interactive read aloud time, students will also be exposed to a variety of genres that they may not have chosen to read on their own.
As the teacher, you also get to model so many things as a reader like:
- fluent reading
- thinking like a reader
- a love of reading
- what proficient reading sounds like
Additionally, you’re helping students build a solid foundation in reading skills like growing and using schema and book knowledge.
How to Plan Your Interactive Read Aloud Lesson
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that planning your read aloud lesson is as important as delivering the lesson. We want to purposefully create lessons that are engaging and effective. There are three basic steps to planning a lesson:
- Choose a book with intentionality. This could be any book you are wanting to read to them. You are going to read through the book one time for enjoyment. After you finish reading the book, think about what reading skills the book naturally lends itself to.
- Write notes for yourself on the sticky notes throughout the book. Grab a pen and a sticky note. You are going to write down the reading skill you are teaching and how you will do it.
- Place the sticky notes in the book! Finally, go back into the story and put the sticky notes on the pages where you will work on those specific skills. You’ll want to stick them in a place where you aren’t covering up the text or pictures.
I went into tons of details on how to plan an effective lesson on my blog HERE. It also has a FREE sticky note template you can print out to make the sticky note writing super easy. Then, if you leave the notes in the book, you’ll be set for next year.
What an Interactive Read Aloud Looks Like
You’ll start with all of your students surrounding you, usually on your whole group rug. If students don’t already have a carpet (or rug) partner that they share with, you can pair them up so they’re ready to chat when it’s time.
There are several parts to an interactive read aloud lesson:
- Introduce the book to engage students and get them interested in the book.
- Introduce the strategy or strategies you want students to focus on and practice while listening.
- Read the text and pause on your sticky notes throughout the book to model thinking, model using the reading strategy, and let students have brief teacher-directed conversations
- Discuss the book after reading. Invite students to participate and share their thoughts. You can guide them to reflect on the meaning of the book or author’s purpose and how using a reading strategy was helpful at certain points. The possibilities are endless!
You can also choose to revisit the mentor text later to help students notice new things or reinforce teaching points. You can also have students respond to the text in writing.
Interactive read aloud time brings books to life! My students were always focused on the text and took away so many important things from our lesson together. If you want some help getting this piece of literacy instruction up and running, check out my Interactive Read Aloud Lessons and Activities Bundle.
This bundle has everything you’ll need to implement interactive read aloud lessons including:
- Interactive Read Aloud Notes
- Reading Strategy Notes
- Example Teaching Schedule
- Reading Strategy Anchor Chart
- Reader’s Toolbox Strategy Tool
- Scripted Lesson plans
Check it out today to bring the interactive read aloud time to life for your students!