Read Aloud, Part III

Reading Aloud to Children
Reading Aloud to Children (Photo credit: Old Shoe Woman)

Good readers have conversations in their heads as they read to themselves.  They determine meaning, make connections to prior knowledge, and use various correction strategies when the text doesn’t make sense.  Students who struggle, usually need to be taught how to have this conversation.  Conducting a read aloud is one way to teach challenged readers how to make sense of what they read.

The first step, according to Rasinski in The Fluent Reader, is to set the stage.  He created an environment that matches the most of the text being read.  Light a candle, play background music, change the lighting, or begin with a poem or a quote. Some teachers bring food that may be related to their reading.  Whatever you do, the point is to help your children/students connect with the text.

Secondly, as you read to your children/students, think out loud.  Model that mental conversation so the kids know what you are thinking.  Stop occasionally and talk through your process of understanding difficult text or decoding an unknown word.  Ask the questions that run through your mind.  Explain the connections you make as your read.  My students love it when they learn something new about me by the connections I make with what I’m reading.  Predict what you think might happen next.

I like to have students practice thinking aloud by reading short sections, then writing on a Post-It note what went through their minds as they read.  Did they have a question? Did they make a personal connection?  Was anything unclear?  By allowing them to experience this process with guidance, prompting and feedback, they will begin to develop the use of this strategy on their own.

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