Read Aloud Post! Due 4/19/12

Fisher, D., Flood, J., Lapp, D., & Frey, N. (2004). Interactive read-alouds: Is there a common set of implementation practice . The Reading Teacher, 58(1), 8-17.

Lane, H., & Wright, T. (2007). Maximizing the effectiveness of read aloud. The Reading Teacher, 60(7), 668-675.

I’ve always taught 5th grade.  I’ve read aloud at least two to three novels each year to each of my groups, because they have always seemed to enjoy it!  Up until this point, I have never read any research on read alouds, but because I’ve always had a pleasant experience with them, so I’ve continued to do so.  According to Lane and Wright’s article Maximizing the effectiveness of read aloud, read alouds provide students with strong vocabulary acquisition and can increase reading comprehension.  It seems that the key to effective read alouds lies in the time for read aloud, selection for read aloud and methods of read aloud text.  I took all of these into account when I chose my read aloud for my 5th grade class for the purpose of my post.  It was suggested by Dr. Frye that we read aloud Mo Willems’ latest book, I Broke My Trunk.  On the first day of read aloud, I did not have access to Willems’ I Broke My Trunk but did have access to Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.  I chose this piece of literature because it was different than what I usually read aloud to my students.  Currently, students hear me read aloud novels such as Bud, Not Buddy or The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963.  Although they have enjoyed both of these novels, I wanted to go with a different piece.  I personally had read Don’t the Pigeon Drive the Bus back in undergraduate school, and loved the story. Since Mo Willems was suggested to read aloud, I thought it would be fun to showcase Willems in this way! I felt that this particular book was a nice example of a read aloud because it held my students attention just long enough that they didn’t get lost in the plot.  The point of view of the Bus Driver makes it an enjoyable text to think about who is telling the story.  Students loved the simple mind of the pigeon, and could relate to his character, because as we read and discussed, they wanted to share stories of when they wanted something so bad they would throw a fit, or try to get their parents to buy them something.  Because the pigeon wants to drive the bus sooo bad, I could change my voice to mimic his determination. This story was a great way to predict the next steps in the story.  According to Dickson and Tabors (2001) it is important to choose text that addresses both immediate and nonimmediate talk.  Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is a wonderful tool that addresses both of these pieces.   Because I had such a great response to Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus I decided to read aloud Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco.  I read more about selecting the correct books to read aloud, and through the research of Beck and McKeowen suggested using meaningful text to create classroom discussions.  I was able to connect Trisha’s dyslexia to my students because they were old enough to understand what this disorder was.  I shared with them some photos of what text might look like to one who was dyslexic and we discussed what life could be like for someone who is, but never received the help needed to cope with the disorder.  My students made comments that they felt bad for Trisha, and some said that they had been bullied before because of something that they couldn’t help.  Others mentioned that they had seen bullying happen, and could connect Trisha’s feelings to the feelings that others had shared with them in the past.  I am glad that I was able to choose such a book that connected with my kids so well!  In fact, one of my students was so moved that she brought in another Patricia Polacco book the next day called Babushka Baba Yaga.  This story was set in a Russian village where an elderly woman wanted nothing more than to have a baby or a grandchild.  Her name was Baba Yaga.  She was not welcome in the Russian village, so she had to dress herself as a Babushka in order to gain access to a child.  She becomes the caretaker of a young boy named Victor.  When Baba Yaga overhears other townswomen speaking of her and her supposively “dangerous powers” Baba Yaga is hurt, and flees to the forest.  She makes her face known again once Victor is lost in the woods and is threatened by wolves. She saves Victor’s life from the savage wolves, and the village people learn that Baba Yaga is not as threatening as they had made her out to be.  This became an excellent read aloud for my students because it taught a lesson that you should never judge a book by it’s cover.  Again, just like with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, students at the age of ten and 11 truly enjoyed the story, and understood what it was trying to convey.  After reading Interactive read-alouds: Is there a common set of implementation practice?  I read through the research based essential components to an interactive read aloud.  Fisher, Flood Lapp and Free suggest that teachers always preview their selections before reading aloud to students.  Even though to me, this seemed like “common sense” I can recall times that I have looked through a read aloud, like Babushka Baba Yaga and mispronounced words.  Had I not previewed my read aloud, I might have stumbled over words that would take away from the interest of the story and would have interrupted the flow and fluent reading of the story.  One piece of this research that I know that I need to beef up on is allowing students to write or respond to text after read aloud.  I typically open the floor for students to discuss their ideas with me, but we either get too deep into discussion, and I lose track of time and we must move on to another activity. It was suggested that in the article, Shiloh was read aloud, and the teacher had put together an activity on the Internet much like an internet workshop or a small research project after the read aloud.  As I reflected on this information, it is true that our class has participated in this activity!  After reading The One and Only Ivan students participated in an Internet Workshop that focused on silverback gorillas! I am setting goals for myself in the future to make time for written response to read alouds for my students.

Overall, read aloud in my classroom has been a big hit!  My students have truly enjoyed listening to me read stories aloud, and much to my surprise, they loved picture books.  I think the use of picture book read alouds for my students was great because they don’t tend to look through them as often as they “should.”  By providing my students with picture book read alouds, I think I have offered my students an open door to a new way to enjoy text without feeling “odd” because the books are “baby” books.  Students have responded to these texts so much more deeply than they would have before as younger readers.  I am contemplating looking for resources in the new future to text EOG test taking strategies with picture books and read aloud so that students may find enjoyment in getting ready for the state test, but also to enjoy great literature!  I know that I will continue with my novel read alouds in the future, and won’t forget my favorite titles to share with my students, but reading aloud with picture books will become a part of my instructional day!


Renee Hennings 4/14/12

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  1. Renee,
    I agree that we need to schedule enough time for students to respond to read alouds. Talking about a story is great, but sometimes we need to take the next step and have them create a response. We have been utilizing http://www.animoto lately and the students have been more thoughtful during the planning stages. After read aloud and discussion, creation is the next logical step! (_!_)

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 1 month ago

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