Whenever I read a story to the class, I usually begin with a short discussion of the title and cover illustration. These nuggets of information help my students tap into or build prior knowledge and set them up to actively listen. This isn’t the only thing we can do to brighten things up and raise students’ thinking. Here are three other ideas that can easily be incorporated into a read-aloud.
Tune in to interesting words and use new vocabulary in speaking and writing.
Preteach an interesting vocabulary word that will pop up during the reading of the book. Ask the students to give a thumbs-up when they hear the word or to count the number of times it’s read. Challenge them to think of similar words that might fit and then speculate about the reasons the author chose this particular word. Encourage them to use the word in their speaking or writing.
Infer and support with evidence.
Inferring often happens naturally when we discuss books. But for a bit of a twist, ask the students to do a little detective work. Cover up the title so only the illustration can be seen. Ask the children to invent a title that matches the picture. Next time, reverse the process. Read only the title, no peeking at the artwork. Have students predict what illustrations might be seen on the cover of the book.
Set a purpose for reading either before or after the story.
- “Why do you suppose I picked this story to read today?”
- “How does this relate to what we’ve been working on?”
- “Is there a bigger picture or purpose? Why could this story be important to me? To you?”
Our students need repetition and practice, but they also benefit from fresh ideas. Let’s be intuitive teachers and adjust when necessary. Our children will respond and thrive.