Friday 9 August 2013

My Plan for Integrating Read Alouds

If you aren’t already sold on the importance of a daily Read Aloud in classrooms for all ages, just Google it and you’ll find solid evidence to support that reading aloud doesn’t just model fluent reading but also builds community, expands vocabulary, exposes students to texts they wouldn’t read on their own, leads to critical thinking, discussion, and more.

The Story of Ferdinand.jpg
Last year when covering a class and meeting a group of grade 8’s for the first time I showed them the picture book The Story of Ferdinand that I was going to read. There were groans, looks of “does she think we’re babies?” but I continued because I’ve experienced the phenomenon before. After the last page they burst into applause! They were smiling, it sparked their thinking, they discussed the book and how it related to their lives and the world, they asked questions, they argued their points using evidence from the text.  They thanked me and told me that they couldn’t remember the last time someone read aloud to them and that they forgot how great it was. I had used the lesson and the book before with another class so it was ready to go. With a good plan and a well-chosen picture book, novel, or nonfiction text…

“Oh, the places you’ll go!”
Dr. Seuss

I’m planning on taking it a step further this year. I’m borrowing the idea of having a Guest Reader in my class each week. I’m inviting parents and relatives, community members such as police officers and fire fighters, school board personnel and I’m really excited to have other classrooms and students to be our Guest Readers. I’ve already got the thumbs up thanks to @PeelMzYou to have her students, who are older, Skype into our class this year! They will explain why they chose the book, read a short text or passage, and then take a few questions. It won’t be a huge time commitment but I’m betting there will be a huge impact for our class. We’ll have the opportunity to hear other voices and texts, to find out what books or songs or poems that they like, and to meet other people who love to read.
The Guest Reader program will link to a Gratitude initiative. Every day we’re going to think of something that we are grateful for, appreciate, or something that inspires us. We’ll talk about it, Tweet about it using #peelsmile, it will probably turn up in our blogs and we’ll grow in our positive outlook. We will definitely be grateful for our Guest Readers and the time and texts that they share with us.

I’m also going to tie this into our Visual Arts and Math programs. We’ll be making Thank You cards to explore a variety of art techniques, Elements & Principals of Design, the creative process, geometry, patterning, calculating costs, etc.). I’ve been painting some cards to use as examples. The one I goofed up on and made upside down, the one with the smudge due to too much ink on the Thank You stamp and some other ‘mistakes’ along with the 1 or 2 ‘good’ ones will be used as a starting point for co-constructing success criteria and as examples to borrow ideas from. Students always enjoy critiquing my work and offering suggestions for improvement and then find ways to make their own work better, more creative, more interesting than mine ever is. When I’m open to constructive criticism first, it helps others to be more open to peer-assessment, self-assessment, making mistakes and trying again. Maybe we will make videos so students can share their card-making techniques with others. These cards will be signed by everyone in the class and then given to all of the people we are thankful for, including our Guest Readers. We’ll give them in person or we’ll send them in the mail to show our appreciation.

Daily Read Alouds, Guest Readers, Gratitude and Visual Arts integration don’t have to take up a lot of time, but the time they take will be worth it. These ideas will evolve; I’d love to hear suggestions.

ROYGBIV colour lesson sample
(Stamp not clear -Thark you? smudges/finger print, blue and indigo not distinct/large enough, not painted all the way to the edges on the right side, BUT a fun process mixing colours using only 3 primary colours and oddly, still kind of cute. Students can learn from my mistakes and notice that quality and care is a goal when making something and then they can make some of their own mistakes - all while learning about colour theory and colour mixing.)

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