Do you find that you, not your students, are the one doing all of the talking during your interactive read alouds? It’s a read aloud, teachers are supposed to do the talking right? Kind of.
When I was a new teacher, I did almost all of the talking during a read aloud other than the odd question to prompt hand raising and a short discussion afterwards. That’s how my teachers had done it and nobody had ever shown me anything different. Then I found that when I asked my students comprehension questions, many of them really didn’t understand the story.
This quote changed how I did my interactive read alouds. Many of my “high fliers” and even some of my average students were getting my read alouds, but I wasn’t reaching a LARGE portion of my class. I made changes. Guess what? They aren’t hard! (Well maybe some of them will challenge you, but you’re a teacher! You can do it!)
1. Partners For Read Alouds
This is an easy win for everyone. Pair your students up and have them sit next to each other. There are many ways to pair your students, but pair them however you want. Make it a routine for students to sit next to their partner every time you have a read aloud.
Why? Instead of stopping and asking students a question and hoping some students other than the usual suspects raise their hands to answer, you can have your students turn and talk with their partner. Instead of one student doing the talking, EVERYONE is talking and students can correct each other if they aren’t sure of the answer.
Afterwards you can call a student to share. It may take awhile in the beginning but once it becomes routine, you’ll barely notice it takes any extra time than calling someone raising their hand.
I bet most of you know what Think-Pair-Share is. Students think, talk with a partner and then share their ideas with the class. Easy, right? Many students still struggle with this, surprisingly enough. Even fewer will use any sort of academic vocabulary when they say their own answer. If we want our students using academic vocabulary and to internalize it, we have to scaffold them. We can do this by providing a sentence frame.
Sentence frames give students a way to start their answer AND they use carefully selected academic vocabulary that you want them to learn and practice. So when you do Think-Frame-Pair-Share, your students will do everything as in a normal Think-Pair-Share. BUT you’ll provide them with a sentence frame to start their sentence off. You would be surprised how many students start to participate when they have a way to start their response.
This one was HUGE. At the end of my read alouds, I used to just ask a comprehension question or two, call a couple of students and then it was on to the next thing. How many people talked? 3 maybe 4 students and ME.
With a class discussion, you have students sit in a circle and ask them a question and then you sit back and do nothing. A student is going to say something that doesn’t make any sense at all and you’re going to want to say something. RESIST! Let the students correct themselves. It may be really quiet for what seems like FOREVER. Don’t say anything. This is about productive struggle.
Letting the students struggle to understand and learn. If you need to, stay out of the circle so you don’t feel tempted to be a part of the discussion. All you should do is jot down a couple of ideas that students have as they discuss. When you start to run out of time or the discussion begins to fade, wrap up by summarizing a couple of the ideas that you jotted down.
Discussion Rules and Expectations
Come up with rules or use tokens to limit the number of times any one student can talk. Come up with a system for turn-taking, and try to keep it out of your control. If you control part of the discussion, students will talk to you and not talk to each other. I avoid eye contact with the student talking so that they don’t direct their answer to me when talking in the discussion. This technique is SO powerful and it gets so many students talking.
Conclusion: Want to Know More?
There are TONS of other techniques and strategies to get your students talking more. I get more in-depth about the ones I’ve already mentioned here in my 5 Steps to a Better Interactive Read Aloud Guide. Plus you also get my read aloud planners for Kinder all the way through 5th grade that will walk you through how I have made my read alouds 5X more powerful AND they connect to ALL of the Common Core reading standards. You can get both of those sent right to your inbox for FREE in the signup form below!