Saturday, September 26, 2015

Shared Reading in the First Days --- and ALWAYS

Walking into one of our first grade classrooms, the teacher has a Keep Book projected on the large whiteboard.  Students are gathered side-by-side on the carpet, their eyes focused on the text as the teacher points and reads.  Their voices chime in and out with hers as they enjoy the story.  None of them notice I have entered the room as they are so engaged in the story.  As I watch I can't help but think about the ways shared reading has changed since my first years of teaching.  In those days, shared reading truly was limited to the big books you had in your classroom --- and big books were pricey.

We are nearing our sixth week of school.  We've spent much time getting to know our students as we watch them interact and work in our learning spaces.  We've completed assessments.  We've build up our communities.  As we begin to look closely at the information we have gathered in our first weeks of school, we pause to celebrate all the strengths of our students and we begin to plan next steps.  In looking at information we've collected, we've noticed our students need support in solidifying concepts of print.  We need to help these young readers begin to build their reading strategies.  Of course, we also want to begin to open up new possibilities in reading to them.  As we've talked and planned we have spent much time talking about the power of shared experience.  Our conversations have started to focus on the possibilities through shared reading to help these students get started.

Gathering to read a text together through shared reading allows us to scaffold young learners and set the stage for the next steps in their reading.  This highly supportive learning context also helps students to feel safe in taking risks and making new discoveries.  It also provides opportunities for the teacher to put strategies and language in place that will support reading instruction in other contexts in the days and weeks to come.

Possibilites in Shared Reading:
  • Build Community:  In the first days of school, shared reading provides a shared context for learning together.  This connected experience can continue to hold a group together across the year.
  • Create a Common Language:  As we start our year, and as we introduce new strategies and concepts, shared reading provides a context for creating a common language across our learning community.  
  • Master Concepts of Print:  With our youngest of readers, shared reading provides opportunities for us to develop concepts of print including:  directionality, return sweep, one-to-one matching, concepts of letter and word, and other important book handling skills.  
  • Develop Reading Strategies:  Shared reading can allow us to teach and model reading strategies that young readers can use to sustain reading.  These strategies include using pictures, utilizing visual cues, thinking about meaning, rereading, reading on, and other strategies to help readers successfully read new text.  Shared reading also allows us to help students learn strategies to help them monitor and self-correct as they read.  It can help with strategies for improving fluency as well.   
  • Support Word Study and Word Explorations:  As young readers develop the knowledge to utilize more visual information, shared reading can help them look at words in new ways.  Moving from using known words, beginning sounds, checking endings, using more efficient chunks, and looking through words, toward flexible utilization of visual information in reading can be supported in this context.  Word explorations and word study work can also be discussed in shared reading opportunities.  
  • Grow Comprehension Conversations:  Of course, reading is always about meaning.  Understanding the author's message is essential.  Continued comprehension conversations can be developed through shared reading.  Comprehension strategies such as connecting, predicting, inferring, synthesizing, determining importance, and visualizing can be taught through careful text selection in shared reading.  
  • Foster a Love of Reading:  Yes, this one maybe should have been first!  There's something enjoyable about shared reading.  Chiming in together as words flow with ease from our mouths and pour gently into our ears.  These rhythms, patterns, words, and stories shared together, often quickly find their way into our story telling and writing.  Being able to revisit our shared reading titles independently in other parts of our day can help students to grow in independence.  
Considerations for Shared Reading:
  • Shared reading can occur with an entire classroom community or a small group.
  • Choose texts that are just above where students can read independently, but will allow readers to successfully revisit these texts independently at a later date.
  • Texts selected need to have the characteristics of the texts students will be reading independently. 
  • Choose shared reading texts that fit student need and work toward your focus of instruction.  
  • Have shared texts available for independent reading opportunities.
The possibilities for shared reading have certainly changed in our digital age.  No longer are big books our only option.  Digital texts, picture books, magazine articles, poems, songs, and so much more can now be used for shared reading.  This shared experience provides a high level of support for helping our readers take next steps.  By having individual copies (or links) to shared texts, students can continue to revisit their favorites for continued practice and enjoyment.  No matter the grade level or time of year, shared reading is a strong first step in learning together.  

If you have favorite books or thoughts about shared reading, I hope you'll stop by to leave a comment and join the conversation.

Be sure to visit Elizabeth Moore's Post:  What is Shared Reading? for more information about shared reading.  You'll find this article and a few other links about shared reading here:  

Follow Cathy's board Shared Reading on Pinterest.

1 comment: