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Plant Growth and Development

Read-Aloud Strategy

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Using the Read-Aloud Strategy, in part, is very much what it sounds like. The teacher reads aloud to the students from a reliable and accurate source. The teacher then leads a discussion to reinforce targeted ideas and to further raise student interest. The success of a Read-Aloud, however, depends on the quality of the text selected and on the teacher’s focus for learning.

Prior to a Read-Aloud, the teacher activates the students’ prior knowledge about the subject and makes appropriate curricular connections. Students are then given a purpose or focus for listening to the text. Read-Aloud selections may be fairly brief. They can consist of a significant picture or photograph, a thought-provoking sentence or two, or a few paragraphs or pages of text. A Read-Aloud may be used to introduce a topic, as a follow-up to reinforce related hands-on experiences, or to provide knowledge that would otherwise be inaccessible to students.  When used in this way, a Read-Aloud can help to solidify understanding of science content, as well as develop vocabulary in context, and connect learning to the next topic or concept. In addition, this strategy can raise student awareness to new genres of reading and can increase student interest in reading nonfiction.

While a Read-Aloud sounds like something teachers do every day in the classroom, it does differ from casually reading to students or reading aloud as part of Language Arts instruction.


Reading Aloud

Specific selections are pulled out to enhance science learning

Read story cover to cover

Primarily uses nonfiction text

Primarily uses fictional text

Focus is on science content and non-fiction text structures

Focus is on narrative text and the elements of a story

Intent is to bridge content learning

Intent could be deepening comprehension,
instruction in comprehension strategies,
enjoyment of literature, and/or recognizing story elements

Is often followed by related application activity

May or may not be followed with an application activity

Critical Elements of a Read-Aloud

  1. Introduction
    Make connections to curriculum concepts or earlier lessons and/or build background knowledge and activate schemata
  2. Activate students’ listening comprehension
    This should be related to curriculum concepts.
  3. Read passage
  4. Elicit responses from students
  5. Conduct a student application activity on content

                                                                                    E. Calhoun and C. Mathwig, 2001

The 5 A’s for Selecting a Read-Aloud

Authority of the author:
Is the author qualified to write the book and did he/she seek out reliable sources?

Accuracy of text content:
Is the information accurate, up to date, and unbiased?

Appropriateness of the book for children:
Is the complexity of the text appropriate to the listening comprehension of the students?

Artistry (literary):
Does the book create vivid, interesting images through language use?  (metaphors, similes, visual imagery, voice, etc.)

Appearance of the book:
Will the book grab readers’ attention with its appearance, size of print, and arrangement of text and pictures?

                                                                                    B. Moss, 1995

Works Cited

Calhoun, Emily and Mathwig, C. (1999). “The Read-Aloud and the Talk-Aloud.” (Videotape). Iowa Department of Education.

Moss, Barbara. (1995, February). “Using Children’s Non-Fiction Tradebooks as Read-Alouds.” Language Arts 72 (122 – 125) .