One of the most important things you can do at the start of a new school year is build community, teach routines, engage your learners and set the tone for the new school year.
This is even more important in Fall 2020. We know that for so many of our children, schools are a safe haven where the love of their teacher anchors them no matter what happens outside of the classroom. We all abruptly lost this last March, and in this week’s blog post, we want to talk about one of the most important anchors you can provide for your students--Interactive Read Aloud.
Many preschool and Kindergarten teachers did “bed time” read alouds last spring—reading a story at 7 p.m., way above and beyond their typical working hours, but so many families shared how relaxing and comforting that was for their children. How about we, of ALL grades, think about morning read alouds as a comforting and safe way to begin our days?
So many of us used to start our school days with Morning Meeting, full of routines and predictability, but before that, we said hello to each student, welcoming them to our rooms—a designated morning live Read Aloud can provide that greeting and set up the rest of the day, plus infuse a shot of thinking, learning, conversation and connection.
There are many, many recorded Read Alouds already out there and so many publishers have allowed teachers to use their books in this way, which is fantastic, but it isn’t the same as reading live to your students.
PLEASE don’t lose that! You cannot spoil a class by reading too much to them, and in this uncertain time, a good picture book or a new novel might just provide the perfect balance of teaching and social/emotional health that teachers are so good at doing! I know very few children (or adults) who don’t like listening to a good story.
(You know what I miss most working from home, besides human contact? I miss the story CD’s I used to listen to as I drove to see all of our partner schools!)
Ways to Adapt you Interactive Read Aloud
Make sure students can see the pictures
Use your Best Story Teller Voice
Model Your Thinking Even More than Before
Adapt Turn & Talks
Encourage kids to stop and jot/draw, and then share some of those by holding them up to the camera or if in the classroom, under a document camera. This is a time when a clipboard with paper and writing implements may be a helpful way of keeping their thinking alive.
If you are on a remote platform that has breakout rooms, put 3-4 kids into rooms once or twice with some clear directions like, “Talk about your inferences about the character’s feelings.” Or, “Discuss your predictions about what you think is going to happen based on what has happened so far.” Or, even, “Talk about what you really liked about that story.”
Make a Routine & Stick to It
Read a variety of texts. Read novels, short stories, picture books, informational articles about topics that will fascinate students, poems, and don’t forget age appropriate news.
Record these sessions for repeated listening. I know I said do these live, and I mean that, but if it is “ok” with your district, record these readings and conversations so children can go back and listen again—hearing the story and the conversations. It will mean so much more to see themselves and their friends! Or, if that is not possible, do record yourselves reading, maybe in EdPuzzle, where you can encourage some stopping and jotting or other responses, but use that as a supplement, not instead of live reading!
Let's do it!
Let’s do it! Let’s all promise ourselves and our students the gift of starting our days with a wonderful, powerful, pleasurable Interactive Read Aloud!