In Search of the Perfect Read-Aloud #sol18

IMG_9715.JPGIn Search of the Perfect Read Aloud #sol18

March 26, 2018

Since Wednesday,  I have been in search of the perfect read aloud, not for the students, but for their teachers.  This read aloud must have a twist or surprise, a character journey both internal and external, and most importantly,  the sixteen or so teachers I am reading it to shouldn’t have heard it before.  I know, right?  That’s the kicker.  So started the quest.

Having spent Wednesday and Thursday in professional development,  we have scheduled a short hour long follow up on Monday with the kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers.  All of us have been working on intentionally raising the accountable talk with our students and rich conversations are growing everywhere across the building.  The goal of our current professional development cycle was craft lessons, so our talk naturally took in helping students construct their own knowledge.

Our library supervisor is so lovely and agreed to recommend some books from the library’s collection.  Tammy Mulligan recommended some more and I had a few I was thinking of in my personal collection.  After several fretful days where I reread many texts,  I took my favorite candidates to the library to chat with Barb, our librarian.  She was drawn to some she knew but there were several that she was unfamiliar with, so we began to read books together late on Friday afternoon.

Our after school program students were in the room as we were looking through the shelves,  reading bits together, and one of the students unfamiliar to me came up and said,

I heard you and Mrs. M. reading together,  there was something about a policeman. 

Yes, I said, there was a policeman in that book.  He was helping the girl make a mural.  Do you know what that is?  Head Shake.  It’s a big painting on the side of a building. 

Why are you reading together?

We like to.  Head nod.

Barb and I did read together for quite a while that afternoon.  We laughed and talked and planned and enjoyed the camaraderie that comes from a shared love.  We share other things, two sons, midwestern roots, a similar age,  but this day,  it was all about the books.  Page by Page,  laughing and talking.  We enjoyed it so much that we think we might have a book tasting for the teachers, inviting them to the library to see some of our favorites and think about how they might incorporate them into their read aloud work.

Barb encouraged me to choose a funny book. I think because I made her laugh reading it.  The character does change through the course of the story.  So our first read aloud recommendation for you is The Bad Seed.  We wanted to use the books Extra Yarn or Not Norman, but they were familiar to some.  My back up book, that I will probably use with the teachers on Monday, is Weslandia, a story of a boy who learns to carve his own place in the world.  Others in the short stack include Little TreeThe Tree, an Environmental FableYard Sale,  and Windows.

There are more on the stack, but I’ll save them for another day.

Some background reading in constructivism and read aloud can be found in Comprehension Through Conversation and The Construction Zone.   Terry Thompson’s book is a very accessible text on the effective use of scaffolds with students.

Some Key ideas in collaborative talk in read aloud:

  • Choose rich text  that beg for rich conversation.  The students don’t have to understand the setting and the characters don’t have to be human, but the characters should have some depth.  I recommend anything by Eve Bunting, most by Kevin Henkes, and the simple but powerful texts of Marc Barnett.
  • Plan, but don’t plan too much.  Have an idea of the destination, but let the students get their with their own GPS.
  • Talk takes practice,  think alouds scaffold students toward a disposition for this talk.
  • Help them get to the heart of the story,  what was the character’s heart’s desire?
  • Think to yourself,  how might I structure my own talk if they can’t get there?

31-day-streak-with-border

Nearly There.  Day 26 of a 31 day writing streak as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Thanks to all the slicers who encourage me and Two Writing Teachers.   Read some amazing slices here.

15 thoughts on “In Search of the Perfect Read-Aloud #sol18

  1. I love your journey toward the perfect read aloud. What fun it was to go with you as you decided on the criteria for your text, went through your stacks, found a colleague and some students to help, and finally found a few great books to share with teachers (and with the SOL community). And thanks for the read aloud tips at the end. I particularly like the tip that suggests that we plan a journey, but then let the kids find their own way (with their own GPS). Love that!

  2. I have been in this position. Finding the perfect read aloud for adults is somehow so much harder than it is when choosing for kids. Like Erika, I appreciated your tips and professional text recommendations.

  3. You have some great books in your stack. I am often saddened to find that teachers are unfamiliar with a lot of texts. I don’t know if their library doesn’t stay up-to-date or if they simply rely on what they did before. I know they will enjoy whatever you read.

  4. What a great dilemma to have! I enjoyed reading your process and challenges in finding just the right story. Not Norman is one of my “anchor books” – always something good to use. I love hearing what others are doing for PD and the book suggestions. Thank you, thank you!

  5. Your slice is three times wonderful! I enjoyed the movie that played in my mind of you and your book buddy reading the day away together. Then scribbled down your book recommendations. And then you added the bonus ‘teaching’ bit about planning the read aloud itself. One tip that resonated was: “Think to yourself, how might I structure my own talk if they can’t get there?” It matches some other advice to start with lean support for readers and only beef it up if they need it…in other words–stay out of their way if they’re having success. Thanks for sharing!

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