Read Aloud, Part 4

A young Alfred Munnings reading aloud outside ...
A young Alfred Munnings reading aloud outside on the grass, circa 1911, by Harold Knight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever wonder what to do with your child after reading aloud with them?  I’ve always felt like the activity was unfinished if I just read and then moved on to another book or activity.  Timothy Rasinski explains several ways to respond to reading in The Fluent Reader.

Responding orally can be a way of allowing your child or student to discuss the story with you and explain what they understood.  With younger kids, ask them literal questions about details of the story.  Stretch their thinking and that of older ones with open ended questions.  Ask them to predict what will happen next.  With my own boys, I ask them to identify pictures or ask them about details that would show me they understand the basic information.  I want them to expand their thoughts and comprehend the text at a deeper level.  They make guesses about what might happen next and talk about what parts they like and don’t like.  My students constantly discuss the text with each other with a think-pair-share activity and answer higher level questions like, “Why do you think the main character did…?”

Kids can respond visually, too.  Students can either draw a scene from the book or describe the mental imagery they experienced while listening.  I love to have my students draw while I read or after reading and then share similarities and differences in the pictures.  I search for books with great description to use to teach them to create a picture in their mind to “see” what they hear.

Once children are able to write and put their thoughts on paper they can use an open ended journal to write about anything they want related to what was read.  They could also respond in writing to a given prompt.  I use free-writing and dialectical journals quite a bit as well as providing a prompt that asks the kids to describe characters and what influences them, predict what would happen next,  to rewrite the end of the story, etc.  Now that my oldest son is starting to write, I want to help him begin to write in response to what I read to him.

Finally, kids and students can show their understanding physically.  “Tableau” is an activity where a group of students create a physical depcition of a scene from what they heard read.  At home, my boys and I constantly use part of stories in our daily activities.  We walk with our toes pointed in and out as in The Snowy Day, or copy the moves from Barnyard Dance.  My students enjoy role playing scenes from our read aloud, too.

Rasinski lists out specific examples of activities to do in responding to read aloud as follows:

“Oral Response:  Discussion; Think, Pair, Share; Oral reading of selected passages

Written Response:  Writing to a prompt; Open-ended writing; Journal writing; Poetry writing

Visual Response:  Creating/drawing pictures; Sketch-to-stretch; Induced imagery

Physical Response:  Tableau; Pantomime; Dance and movement

Combinations of any of the above:  For examples, students may create a poster for a story, using words and pictures, and act out the story, using movement and oral language.”

The importance of responding to a read aloud is to show you what they understood and to deepen their own comprehension.