Now that we have been back in the classroom for quite some time, I am starting to feel better about a Socially Distanced Classroom and making it work. Today I want to share with you some tips for using Interactive Read Aloud in a Socially Distanced way.
Interactive Read Aloud is one of my favourite times of the day! To me, there is nothing better than gathering at the carpet as a community to share a story and improve our reading skills. I LOVE that interactive read alouds provide students with opportunities to show how smart they are and to be successful. It is my favourite part of Reading Workshop and my literacy block.
With all of the benefits of Interactive Read Aloud, I knew that this was something that I needed to continue even in a Socially Distanced classroom. Here are some tips to make that happen.
Tip 1: Make it a priority
This tip applies to a normal classroom setting, socially distanced classroom or even a virtual classroom. When you make interactive read aloud a priority and it happens every day, kids begin to see reading as important and enjoyable. We want to send the message that even in stressful times, reading is important. One way to do that is to continue to read aloud each and every day!
Tip 2: Avoid Distractions
One of the best parts of bringing students to the carpet for Interactive Read Aloud time is that there are no distractions. You as the teacher can look into the whites of their eyes and see that they understand. There aren’t any materials to play with and everyone is focused. It is possible to maintain this same level of focus, even with students spread apart at desks, although it is much trickier.
Make it your expectation that during Interactive Read Aloud time, desks stay closed, there is nothing in our hands and everyone has their eyes on the story or on you. This won’t come naturally to the kiddos and will need to be practiced and reinforced. But, I strongly believe that by spending time up front learning how to avoid distractions, it will pay off later on.
Another option is to have students sit on top of their desks. I find that this works particularly well with upper elementary students. Sitting on top of their desks is such a novelty that they view it as a special privilege.
Tip 3: Ensure Everyone Can See The Book
One of the benefits of the carpet is that everyone can clearly see the pictures. If everyone is spread out throughout the room, having the teacher stand at the front of the room with the book isn’t going to be conducive to everyone seeing and students will get frustrated. If you are able to walk around the room and show students the pictures, that is one option. If not, I highly suggest using a document camera. That way, you can project the book on your SMART board (or other system) and everyone can see. A document camera also works great if you want students to take a closer look at a section of text in a chapter book.
Tip 4: Utilize Video
I am usually all about the turn & talk! I love listening into students as they make sense of new information and debate character traits and themes. Since turn & talk is tricky in a socially distanced classroom, you might choose to use technology in order to allow students time to collaborate and share ideas.
One awesome tool for this is flip grid. Ask students to create a short (30 second) video response to your question. Then have them watch their partner’s video and respond. In this manner, kids are getting oral language practice and they are still getting a chance to try out their ideas orally before being expected to write.
Tip 5: Incorporate Technology
Another great option for students to respond to the read aloud in through Google Slides. You can put a few Stop & Jot questions into different slides and allow students to pick one to answer. While students work, you can be at your device, watching them in real time and making comments on their work. This allows you to stay socially distanced while still providing valuable feedback and helping to move their learning forwards.
I hope that these tips help you to feel confident in your ability to incorporate Interactive Read Aloud into your socially distanced classroom. If you are looking for some Interactive Read Alouds that are already done for you, check out my Upper Elementary Bundle Here!
If you’re interested in learning more about Interactive Read Aloud in the Upper Elementary classroom, check out THIS blog post all about making IRA magical!