Read Aloud time is one of my favourite parts of the day! I love immersing children in other worlds, allowing them to see themselves in stories and allowing them to empathize with characters who are different from them. Here are my top tips for incorporating read aloud time in the upper elementary classroom.
1) Come to the Carpet!
Okay so I know that you might be rolling your eyes. Fifth graders… at the carpet? But trust me, this helps so much! I love being able to reach out my hand and gently tap a student who isn’t quite focused, without missing a beat with the book. I love that when we are all on the carpet together, we feel like a community. There are no distractions on the carpet such as pencils to play with or tiny erasers to stack and knock over.
2) Have High Expectations for Behaviour
Early in my career when I was reading aloud, I happened to glance up and witness a student making a very inappropriate hand gesture to her friends. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t set high enough expectations for my students during read aloud time. Yes, this is a time to enjoy books. However, our behaviour still needs to be on par. I highly suggest laying out your behaviour expectations with students at the beginning of the year. Are they allowed to lay down? Where should their hands be? What should they be doing while you read? It’s so hard to monitor behaviour while your head is down, so it’s important to set the kiddos up for success ahead of time.
3) Consider the Purpose of your Read Aloud
There are so many different purposes of read alouds. In fact, I think that I will need to write another blog post just about that. It doesn’t really matter what your purpose is, so long as you are aware of it. Some possible purposes of read aloud time include:
- building classroom community
- introducing curricular concepts
- modelling and practicing reading strategies
- analyzing a mentor text for writing
- for fun!
- and so many more! (like I said… another blog post for another time)
You need to be aware of your purpose so that you can make choices about books and stopping points to meet your needs.
4) Book Choice is Important
Every group of kids is different. I have tons of books that I recommend, but you do need to consider your unique learners when making this choice. If you teach upper elementary, it’s important to have a good mix of easier, on level, and more difficult picture books to read aloud. Plus… don’t forget about the novels! Just one word of caution when it comes to reading novels aloud, be sure that the book isn’t too long! Kids need to be exposed to a variety of books throughout the year and if you spend 3 months on one, that will drastically reduce the impact that your read aloud time could potentially have.
5) Consider your Stopping Points Carefully
I am a huge advocate for stopping periodically during a read aloud to ask questions, model skills and think aloud. Just be careful that you don’t stop so often that you break the flow of the book. Looking for a resource that has a ton of stopping points already plotted out for you… check this out!
So there you have it… my five tips for incorporating Read Aloud time in your upper elementary classroom. Is there anything that you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email!