Posted on August 18, 2015
Read Aloud Schedule
Why have a read aloud schedule?
I taught 6th grade for a number of years when I first began teaching. I enjoyed that grade and was sad to leave. Now I am entering my second year of teaching 5th grade after bouncing around for a while. This will be the first time in a long time that I have repeated the same grade two years in a row. One of the things that I always loved about teaching the same grade consistently was that I had a progression of read aloud books (with enough copies for everyone to read along with) timed just right. My progression fit the year, what we were learning, and the messages that I wanted to get across in such a way that the year flowed very smoothly.
While I read a number of good books out loud last year, I want a much more intentional progression than simply looking for a new book when we finish the old one. My reasons for this are twofold. The first is that I want to books that we read to fit some of the lessons that we teach. When we are learning about Renaissance painting, it would be good to be reading or have just read Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald as it is a mystery about two girls who think they have found an original and yet undiscovered Raphael painting. When we begin to learn about the Civil War and slavery, I want to have just finished Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis so that some of the realities of slavery are in the front of their minds.
The second reason that I want a predictable sequence is that I am going to be using the strategies and signposts from Kylene Beers’ and Robert Probst’s book Notice & Note: Strategies for close reading extensively this year. The six literary signposts that they outline in their book are excellent ways to teach explicit thinking skills to all readers. The signposts are literary elements that most authors use in their writing and by teaching those signpost to our students, we are able to give them things to look for and think about as they read. Reading is comprehension, and for students who struggle with interacting with text (i.e. who think reading is simply reading the words) the Beers’ and Probst’s signposts are an excellent place for students to begin looking within text so that they can read closer and comprehend on a deeper level.
Quality reading instruction revolves around a complex ecosystem of elements. One of those elements is the idea of explicit instruction and modelling of reading strategies. By reading aloud with the six signposts in mind, I am able to demonstrate, isolate, and model finding them in a real and explicit way. To this end, my read aloud can become a direct part of my mini-lessons and explicit instruction. By creating a specific progressions and a set bank of read aloud books, I am able to locate, plan for, and teach the signposts in each of the books that we read aloud. Together, we as a class can have a common set of stories and experiences around both the joy of reading and the specific mechanics that make us better readers.