Interactive Read-alouds

This year, as I teach 4th grade, my Monday schedule is Library every other Monday. I decided I wanted to regularly help my students think and talk about books using the structure of Interactive Read-aloud and Grand Conversation that I learned at TCRWP Reading Coach Institute. So on the non-library days, I lead them in this reading structure.

During the Interactive Read-aloud, I picked picture books, read and paused and modeled strong think-alouds. I had the students turn and talk and/or stop and jot their thinking. Then at the end, a large circle was formed and the students had a Grand Conversation about the book. The rules during a Grand Conversation are: no hands (this is a conversation), one voice at a time, and all eyes on that one voice listening and thinking about how we might respond to that person’s thinking about the book. I sat on the outside of the circle and listened. I listened for two things – was the speaker using conversational skills and was the speaker using conprehension skills. I used a checklist to note what I saw. Afterwards, I used this data to inform my delivery of my next Interactive Read-aloud and Grand Conversation. Once the conversation ended, I asked the students to return to their seats and reflect. What did you learn from discussing this book? What do you think the author was trying to tell you by writing this book? Why do you think that? Another plus to using this structure is that after talking about a book and listening to many ideas about a book, students could then write long and strong about their ideas about a book. Always a good skill to grow!!

As I was told at TCRWP, when you start kids using this structure in September, they will be ready to participate in a book clubs in Jan/Feb. They will know better how to have a conversation and how to share their comprehension of the book. This is exactly what I am noticing!! Friday, my students met in groups of 4 or 5 and all had read the first eight chapters of the same realistic fiction novel. I guess I should not have been surprised but it worked!! One voice started by sharing a jot. All others listened. Then I heard these phrases: “I agree with….I disagree because this page it says….”. No hands, one voice at a time, all eyes on the speaker and great thinking about a novel was discussed!! I know it was the earlier interactive read-alouds that gave my students the specific practice in how to have a conversation and how to share your own thinking about a book! I will ALWAYS use this structure as a scaffold to strong book club discussions in the classroom!

Checklist I used during Grand Conversation:

Books I used during Interactive Read-alouds:


Still want to use:

Especially the short stories: Stray and Spaghetti from Every Living Thing.

Here are Anchor Charts I hung during the Interactive Read-Aloud. Notice the vocab words I listed. As the students turned-and-talked, I encouraged them to use precise vocabulary to describe the book character.On each chart I purposely add some words they might use. This was another idea I got from TCRWP…kids WILL use stronger vocabulary when encouraged to do so.

Let me know if YOU are using this structure. What book? What is your success story?

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Slice of Life Story Challenge

I am making a personal goal to write each day in March as a participant of SOL Story Challenge. Daily, I will post a personal narratives at a new blog I just created for this challenge: My Writing Stories that Only I Can Tell. Starting in March, you can go and read my stories and see if I am posting one a day (I hope I can!). At this new blog, I will post my very own little SOL*  = “slice of life”.

This is the idea of TWOWRITINGTEACHERS and this March will be their 7th year running this challenge.

Click here to learn ALL about the challenge: http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/writewithusinmarch/

I really want to accomplish this goal! I know that writers only get better at writing by writing.I teach this to my students in Writing Workshop but my own life gets busy and I am not always writing myself. I also will be a good writing peer and take time to read and offer feedback to other SOL writers. I know this reading of others’ writing, other mentor texts, will also improve my writing!

There is still time for YOU to consider joining in and participating in the SOL Story Challenge!! To learn more about this month-long writing challenge, go to: http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/writewithusinmarch/

Even is you don’t take up the challenge, I recommend you joining this blog. Daily I get their post and it always helps me with teaching writing better in my classroom!!

* …a much better acronym for SOL – I teach in VA and our state test is called the SOL!