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Leveraging the Read Aloud to Support your Students as Writers

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Interactive read aloud of a text provides an ideal opportunity for students to write in response to text. During an interactive read aloud, when teachers initiate questions that generate high-level thinking, students have a chance to rehearse their ideas and practice thinking together.   Generally when children can construct shared meaning during these whole group discussions, the understanding that is generated is more robust because it encompasses multiple perspectives.  Because writing is the most complex of literacy tasks, students require the most scaffolding in order to be successful. 


 Watch this <video> ( (7:20) as this teacher discusses the steps she uses to scaffold students’ written response: 

  • Interactive read aloud

  • Think-Pair-Share

  • Sharing with the group

  • Building on each other’s ideas

  • Putting ideas on paper





Written responses can be housed in a notebook and incorporated into part of interactive read aloud experience. Teachers can provide students with specific prompts for written response. These might be: 

Draw a scene from our read aloud text.  Your scene needs to include:  characters, setting, labels, caption. 


Prompt for written response to My Father's Dragon:  What was the problem in the story?  What was the solution?



It is common to discus specific characters in a story.  To capture some of the nuances of character actions or motivations, students might draw the facial expressions of characters:


During reading students can also make notes of key ideas or questions.  After reading, students can use the notes to guide discussions in small groups.  After talking with peers, students might provide further explanation or elaborate on their original ideas.

Written response to read aloud can be a powerful starting place to build writing practices in the classroom because it provides a common experience to discuss and reflect upon.  Discussions that occur during interactive read alouds can become a forum to rehearse ideas, make connections, create shared understanding- which is the kind of scaffolding young writers need to be successful.  Just like interactive read aloud, written response to reading should be driven by learning standards, the process needs to be modeled, and students need time for guided practice.  For more more information about reading and writing connections, here is addition text, Reading and Writing Connection.  
Before you complete this inquiry cycle, revisit the goals that you set in the beginning using the inventory of practice, to discuss any instructional shifts you have made during this experience, and make plans with your team to continue to support these changes- by committing to peer-observations in the future, building in routine collaborative planning to develop high-leveled questions, share learning with families by developing resources for parents that align with new interactive practices.

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These tools were created as part of the Literacy Improvement in Rural Education through Collaboration (LIREC) project funded by the U.S. Department of Education