If you are reading this blog, chances are you: A) teach, B) are an avid reader, or C) do both! It has probably been a long time since you thought about what you are doing when you read. Next time you read a book, consider:
1) what reading strategies you are using as you read, &
2) how you can help students acquire those strategies.
I put myself to the task above & made notes about what I noticed myself doing as a reader throughout the first 2 chapters. For example:
- The front cover engaged my interest & the back cover set the scene & some characters in mind
- The story prompted questions: I was not sure who or what the narrator was, other than a kid excited about moving. This interested me because I could relate
- I didn’t have a direct connection to the hamburger story, but could picture it
- Suddenly, paragraph 3’s 1st sentence generated unsettling questions: Not enough money? Living in car? Why? This made me want to keep reading
- On page 2, the reader starts to get some answers, which drew me in; plus, I could relate to the narrator’s feelings of regret about upsetting her Mom & feeling pressure from her parents.
These are all important reading strategies, as you will see detailed below in a general unit launch plan.
Can a teacher model reading strategies through a read aloud? Naturally, primary teachers do this often with picture book & primary non-fiction texts, demonstrating such skills as noticing details, determining the main concept, & showing comprehension. But what about at the intermediate level?
Teaching reading is a responsibility no longer placed solely on the shoulders of primary teachers. All teachers are responsible for supporting our students as readers & thinkers. While primary teachers instruct how to decode, many intermediate teachers are not investing the same amount of instructional time into the ‘thinking’ part of reading… Our job was not to teach reading but to do reading… [but] something was missing, & that was instruction (Gear; pg. 9).
Reading aloud to children of any age improves their literacy (Fox; 2013). I believe participating in the GRA at the start of the school year is a unique opportunity to introduce & develop many important classroom goals in the intermediate grades:
- Foster a classroom culture of shared experience & understanding, building relationships
- Build classroom expectations around behaviour & listening
- Share & set a classroom priority for creating a reading culture
- Demonstrate engaging methods of collaboration by connecting to the author or other participating classes via Skype, & using Flipgrid, iMovie, Padlet & other webtools to share responses
- Model & practice reading strategies together, developing skills for individual book projects later
Image source: www.responsiveclassroom.org
So, does a teacher just dive into the book right away with their class? No. It is important to scaffold for capacity. I recommend 2 lessons prior to introducing Front Desk, which is a fantastic choice for grade 5:
1) Activate prior knowledge & experience:
Have students write, draw, or record an interview about a time they went somewhere or did something that was new. Describe how they didn’t know what to expect (e.g.: tell about their first day at karate class where no one explained anything). The result might be funny or share their confusion or anxiety.
2) Make connections & model strategies:
Watch a book trailer to set the scene & feeling, then read a picture book aloud to share a new experience together as a class.
Here I Am, a wordless book, is a good pre-teaching work for the immigrant experience expressed in the book Front Desk.
While reading Here I Am, discuss & model each of these 5 reading strategies:
- Activate prior knowledge: What do you already know about the topic?
- Make predictions: What logical guess do you have about the work?
- Question for comprehension: What do you think or wonder about the story so far?
- Make connections: What makes you feel in touch with the characters, setting, or situation?
- Visualize: Are you able to picture part of the text in your mind? (Mascott; 2019)
Discuss that you will keep practicing these skills together while listening to the GRA.
3) Begin reading the GRA, actively modeling these 5 reading strategies to the class:
Since the teacher reads aloud & students listen, the class can take natural moments together to notice & practice these skills. Reading aloud to intermediate students provides opportunities for them to listen to a fluent, expressive, and animated reader, hearing a model of excellent reading, phrasing, expression, and pronunciation (Teacher Vision; 2019).
Students should have GRA notebooks & can choose to do 1 of 3 things for 10 mins after each class read:
- Show their visualization in a ‘sketch to stretch’ activity (Leland; 2012; pg. 128)
- Think aloud in small group discussions & list key points, connections, or questions
- Write out reactions to that day’s reading, or predictions about what may happen next
Once the class is involved in the book, request input on how your students want to participate in the GRA. Classrooms around the world will read & experience Front Desk – how does yours want to share in this initiative? This has great potential to further motivate your ‘readers.’
The annual Global Read Aloud program is focused on the idea of one book to connect the world. With the mentor text to read aloud with their class, the teacher can use the text to practice reading strategies together & work through lessons on story development, such as: character & theme analysis, inferring, or working through vocabulary. For the teachers involved, the GRA allows new tools to be introduced as well as a meaningful way to read in a way that models what literacy experiences should look like (Ripp; 2019).
– The author / publisher of Front Desk offers a site of teacher resources.
– Once students discover Front Desk is semi-autobiographical, they may want to read other, similar works available in this Common Sense Media booklist, or to write their own (somewhat fictionalized) life story.
Fox, M. (2013). What next in the Read‐Aloud battle?: Win or lose? The Reading Teacher, 67(1), 4-8.
Gear, A. (2018). Powerful understanding: Helping students explore, question, and transform their thinking about themselves and the world around them. Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers.
Kim, P. & Sanchez, S. (2014). Here I am. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Young Readers.
Leland, C., Lewison, M., & Harste, J. (2012). Teaching children’s literature: It’s critical! Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Mascott, A. (2019). 5 Easy skills to teach kids during read alouds. Scholastic: Parents. Retrieved from: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/reading-resources/developing-reading-skills/5-easy-skills-to-teach-kids-during-read-alouds.html
Ripp, P. (2019, Jun. 14). The Global Read Aloud and literacy curriculum. Global Read Aloud: 2019. Retrieved from: https://theglobalreadaloud.com/category/2019/
TeacherVision. (2019, Jun. 9). Reading aloud: Teaching strategy. TeacherVision. Retrieved from: https://www.teachervision.com/reading-aloud-0
Yang, K. (2018). Front desk. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.