Friday, August 2, 2013

Tips for Organizing and Managing Read Aloud in the Classroom

There are two moments I anticipate with excitement every year in my classroom: When Charlie Bucket finally gets his Golden Ticket and the class cheers wildly (because they always do) and when Charlotte dies and even my toughest little guys look sad. For many kids its those are the first times that a book evokes such emotion and I love being a part of that magic.

I read books throughout aloud to the class at various times throughout the day. I often begin Math Workshop with a text related to our current topic. We use mentor texts in writing. We share non-fiction books during science and social studies. And while I do love integrating literature into all subject areas, there is something extra special about modeling how to read a book “just for fun.” That’s where our daily Read Aloud comes in. Today’s post will focus on tips for organizing and managing read aloud in the classroom.

Preparing for Read Aloud:
  • Create a comfortable place in the classroom for read aloud. Your whole-group area is ideal.
  • When setting up the space, choose an area that is free from distraction by avoiding having the children face into the hallway or out a window.
  • Dedicate a regular time each day to read aloud.  I like to have my students enter the classroom after recess and proceed directly to our group area for read aloud. I find this to be the perfect transition from the excitement of lunch and recess back into the academics of the classroom.
Selecting Books
  • Choose books with bold photographs or illustrations that capture their attention.
  • While you will have some tried and true favorites year after year be sure to pick new titles during the year that are selected based on the interest of the class.
Management Tips
  • There are a few times during the day when I request that nobody asks to get a drink or use the bathroom. Read Aloud is one of those times (in case you were wondering the other two are when I am directly instructing the whole class and when they are part of a small group lesson). Children have learned that if they say, “It’s an emergency” then they are free to go. You’ll notice that it is ALWAYS an emergency. I have found that taking a few minutes at the start of the year to define what a true emergency is (i.e. You will actually have an accident if you don’t run to the bathroom immediately) gets a few giggles, but it puts an end to it and they are really good about using the restroom at a better time.
  • Keep a box of tissues next to you in the Read Aloud area. Doing so will prevent students from having to crawl over each other to get one which in turns eliminates another distraction.
  • Establish attention getting signals. Never read until you have their attention. Wait time can feel like forever, but is worth the time investment.
  • Assign seats for read aloud. Having a designated spot for each child will prevent students from putting them selves in situations where they are tempted to be off task. This will also make transitioning to read aloud much quicker.
  • Designate a “talking partner” for each student. Build in times for them to share thoughts or comments or respond to a question about the text. This will help minimize disruptions from students who are eager to make a connection...verbally...five times on each page. ;)
  • Keep in mind that not all children are read to at home consistently. Also, our kids have all grown up in a digital world where everything flashes, blings and beeps.  You may need to teach them how to listen to a story. Explain and model your expectations. Talk about what read aloud should look like and sound like. Create a T-Chart together. Include these expectations in your procedures and routines binder so that a student can revisit them if needed.

  • Don’t be the interruption. It is so tempting to stop mid-paragraph to point out a strong word choice or reflect on a thought, but that can be what actually takes kids off task from listening. Preread the text and mark those words you want to point out as well as the questions you may want to use for discussion, but share them with the class just before or just after reading the text. 
My Favorite Read Aloud Books
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The Wizard of Oz

At the end of each trimester we watch one of the related movies and do several of the activities in the Comparing Books to Movies Packet.

{Photo Credits: Left to Right}


  Be sure to check out the Book Divider Freebie above to easily organize your read aloud library.


For more tips and ideas on organizing and managing your classroom please check out my Clutter-Free Guide along with my Teaching Procedures and Routines Workbook. This post is part of:

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