Have you tried to do virtual read alouds? Maybe you’re doing virtual read alouds because of distance learning due coronavirus pandemic/ Covid-19. Perhaps you’re in the classroom and you’re trying to simplify your read alouds. Regardless of your situation, Google Classroom, Google Slides, and Google Docs can be powerful tools to make your life easier and engage your students with virtual read alouds. Read on to find out how to do a virtual read aloud and lots of virtual read aloud ideas!
What If I Don’t Have Books At Home?
If you’re reading this during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s true. A lot of us were given VERY little time to prepare for this and didn’t get a chance to grab books before not being allowed back in school. If you need books to read aloud and you don’t have any physically available, here are some places that I’ve found books:
- Epic! – Has hundreds, if not thousands, of popular books in English and Spanish that you can read aloud. Free for educators and students and parents can get free access for 30 days to read at home. I love it especially since it’s one of the few apps/websites that has quality books in Spanish!
- Sora/Overdrive – an app associated with many school and public libraries that students and teachers can access free.
- Amazon – Who doesn’t love Prime? You can get books delivered fast as long as they’re Prime eligible. If you’re in a pinch it’s the way to go.
- Local Bookstores – Support local. Some that are close to me are offering curbside pickup!
Google Docs Lesson Plans
Want to know biggest of my virtual read aloud tips? I start all of my virtual read alouds with my Google Docs read aloud lesson plan template. Following the same template helps me provide consistency for my students by providing a predictable structure.
Why Google Docs?
- easy to edit year after year
- easy to find
- shareable to collaborate with colleagues
I plan to focus on a read aloud book for 3-5 days, but that’s for picture books. If you’re reading a chapter book as a read aloud, you’ll likely need to plan longer.
Why 3-5 days?
Each day I focus on a different strand of the Common Core State Standards?CCSS:
- Key Idea and Details (Standards 1-3)
- Craft and Structure (Standards 4-6)
- Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (Standards 7-9)
You can read more about how I plan a read aloud here. I go really in-depth about how I go about selecting books as well as my general lesson plan format and how I conduct the interactive read aloud. Now for the Google Slides.
Google Slides Lesson Format
Here are the parts that I follow for each day of my virtual read alouds:
- Purpose for Listening – provides background and an idea of what the students need to be listening for
- Standards – helps students know what it is that they are working on
- I Can Statement / Language Objective / SWBAT – lets students know what they will be expected to do, with what language and how
- Discussion Questions – generally I incorporate gradual release of responsibility during the read aloud and discussion questions after
- Comprehension Prompt – check that students are proficient with the standard
Looks like the format of a good lesson right? It’s no different. Your school or district might have different components but that’s what I include in my virtual read alouds Google Slides. See below:
You can sign up to get these Google Slides for The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds as well as my lesson plan and activities free.
I’ve made Google Slides like these for over 400 books for grades K-5. You can get instant access to all of them by becoming a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust for JUST $1 for 30 days.
Live Virtual Read Aloud
- Follow the slides and lesson plan just as they are
- Read the book live to your students
- Discuss just as you normally would
- Have an anchor chart ready if you need to make one
- Read below for distributing the comprehension prompt
Not much different than a normal read aloud in school except your students are in their homes.
Recorded Virtual Read Aloud
- Record yourself reading the book (more on this below)
- Discuss asynchronously (more on this below)
- Make the anchor chart as you record your reading
- Read below on how to distribute the comprehension prompt
Recording the Read Aloud
Screencastify is a Google Chrome extension that you can add via the link. It allows you to record your screen and your webcam. A couple of virtual read aloud ideas for reacording, and the one that I use:
- Screen record reading the first Google Slide with the purpose and learning objectives
- Record with the webcam reading the book
- Upload both videos to Google Drive
- Link the videos to the Google Slides
- Record yourself on the webcam only while you read the slides to preview the lesson to students and read the book
- Upload the video to Google Drive
- Link the video to the Google Slides
I prefer Option 1 even though there are more videos because it brings my students back to the Google Slides and the slides are a great reference for them as well as for me! Option 2 is better for younger students and beginners as it involves less videos. Either way I always do a Google Slides read aloud because I can use the slides whether I’m doing virtual read alouds or face to face read alouds.
Whoa, now! Asynchronously?! I’m not James Bond here! What do you mean? I mean, your students will discuss the book but all at different times whenever they watch your virtual read aloud. I go more in-depth about virtual discussions here.
How? Flipgrid! If you’ve never used Flipgrid before, there is an excellent resource from Flipgrid that can help get you started. Read that and come back, but the beauty of Flipgrid is that it’s SO EASY.
- Sign up for Flipgrid
- Create a grid with the title of the book
- Add a topic for each discussion question
- Post a link to the grid (I post them on the Google Slides)
- Students respond and discuss on Flipgrid
For younger students, you can record yourself saying each question. Students can respond to each other’s videos. You can reply. You can even provide feedback!
Here is another one where Google helps us out a lot and I again go back to Google Slides. I know, I sound like a broken record: put it on the Google Slides! I put a link to the Google Docs discussion prompt right on my Google Slides.
The link that I post is a force copy link. What’s a force copy link? When you share anything on Google, you can force anyone to make a copy of it by:
- Click Share
- Copy the shareable link
- When you paste the link, erase the end: “edit?usp=sharing”
- Write “copy”
When anyone clicks on the link, it will make a copy of the document.
It’s All in Google Slides!
Google Slides are the Swiss Army knife of the Google for Education suite of apps. I link everything into the Google Slides of my virtual read alouds:
- Virtual Read Aloud video(s)
- Discussion Question Flipgrid link
- Google Docs comprehension prompt
Want To Try it Free?
Sign up below to get my Google Slides with the Google Docs comprehension prompts for Peter H. Reynolds’s The Dot FREE.
Wait a minute! Why are the virtual read aloud videos and discussion question Flipgrid links not included? I can’t include the videos of the read aloud because of copyright, but you can as long as you share the videos linked to Google Slides to a password-protected platform like Google Classroom, Seesaw, etc. Okay, what about the discussion question Flipgrid links? Well, you need to create your own account and make your own links.
If you try it and you’re still not sure how to do a virtual read aloud, send me an email and I’ll help you get started!