Do 3rd to 5th grade teachers have time to
read aloud to their students?
Last week I talked about the importance of interactive read alouds with kids in the intermediate grades. One reader let me know that “this method of teaching is quite common and not something new.”
While I agree that discussing books with our students is nothing new (and I’m positive that some teachers do it often and well), I’m not sure about it being common in third, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms.
Instead, what I often see is a jam-packed school day – with no extra room for read-aloud time.
And the list goes on! It’s no wonder that intermediate teachers find it difficult to find time to read aloud to their students, much less have a thoughtful discussion about the same book.
We need to MAKE time
Thoughtful book discussions build classroom community, build reading comprehension, and strengthen higher order thinking skills.
The good news is that book discussion don’t have to be long or even every day. Even just one 15-minute interactive read aloud a week will be beneficial to your students. I recommend scheduling one as many days a week as you can, though – because kids get better at book discussions the more often they do them.
Teach kids proper listening skills
Make sure that you teach, model, and practice proper listening skills right from the beginning. You could choose one skill to work on each week. Model it, have your students practice it, and let them know when they’re doing it well.
- Sit up.
- Look at the person who is talking (it can help to have students sit in a circle).
- Think about what the speaker is saying.
- Nod your head when you agree.
- Let the speaker finish before talking.
- Wait to raise your hand until the speaker is finished.
Teach kids how to respond thoughtfully
I’m sure you’ve seen this … a student offers a thoughtful response to your question. Then another students raises his/her hand and says something entirely unrelated.
You want students to respond to each other, but instead they’re saving up what they want to say – whether it relates or not.
It can helpful to teach and post a series of sentence starters. Model how to use them, and practice, practice, practice. You might even create a tally sheet to keep track of how many times students use these starters in their response.
- I agree because …
- I disagree because …
- What I heard you say was …
- I have a different opinion because …
- Why do you think that?
- Could you explain that more?
- Couldn’t it also be that …?
- Can you give an example from the text?
- I’d like to add that …
- I didn’t understand …
- What you said made me think …
- Actually, I think the author meant …
- What does the author say that makes you think that?
Teach kids to evaluate how they’re doing
Here’s something to try! Ask your students to evaluate their participation in a book discussion. This could be a whole class, small group, or partner discussion.
As always, model the use of the form many times before asking students to use it on their own. Here’s a sample form that you could use:
In fact, you’re invited to download this self-evaluation form below! Be sure to stay tuned for the rest of my series about building reading comprehension in grades 3-5.