Indiana Reading Journal Volume 44 Issue 1 - Page 51

In fact, before posting them, why not follow Layne’s suggestion to enhance your own professional growth? Make an effort to read the writings of some of those researchers to help strengthen your understanding about teaching this way (p.11).

Sum Up the Cost

Once you have decided to put on your armor, get in the trenches and begin to fight on behalf of our students, you will need to sum up the costs and weigh the benefits. Our students will need to be well advanced in reading and writing as it relates, not only to STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), but to empathy, cultural awareness, historical reflection, and civic duty as well. What better way to improve student understanding of these topics, as well as build schema, than with materials that are readily available in your school media center or your public library? This is one battle that does not have to be filled with expensive devices or tools. It is practical, and covers a plethora of educational subject matter.

Be Strategic; Plan Your Maneuvers

In Defense of Read Aloud is a validation we for us to continue our read-aloud best practices. Mind you, this does not mean pulling a book off the shelf, willy-nilly, and reading through it to fill time, nor is it reading a book a student has requested you read to the class impromptu, Layne reminds (pp. 67-69). Read-aloud is instruction and must include the key components of instruction. This means not only would we pre-read, we would want to include good questioning, explicit examples while modeling, and deep think-aloud moments in our daily interaction with students as we read to them. I also suggest you consider using questioning strategies that represent the five areas of reading instruction, as reported by the National Reading Panel as mentioned in the booklet, Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read. (2001). This means your daily read-aloud should address something about each of the 5 critical areas of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Map out the Plan of Attack

You must have a plan for your read-aloud tactics. Will it be a picture book, or a lengthier book with chapters? You must use your time wisely, and that may mean that launching the book will more than likely take a larger amount of time the first day of the launch, than you usually have set aside for read aloud. To have a successful launch, you, as the professional, must have intimate knowledge of the material (Layne, p. 66). To be sure the read aloud is successful at launch, you should read until you know your students are HOOKED!

Part of the strategy for a powerful read-aloud liberation means that you must scrutinize your plan. Know how many days it will take to read the entire book, integrating time for meaningful instruction and discussion along the way and at the end. Layne says if there is a trend of students to be absent due to extending a holiday or break, that you should plan and finish the book with time for discussion prior to the dates in question. You should not punish the child for something that is ultimately out of his control (p. 33). The one or two days in question would be days spent doing read aloud with some of your favorite picture books, Reader’s Theatre, or poetry, until your attendance patterns are back to normal.

Battle Strategies

Be intentional (Page 68). First, plan how you will deliver the read aloud all the way down to the seating plan (p. 23). Remember to make decisions and choose the books wisely. For many of you that will be simple, because you are veterans of solid read-aloud best practices, and already have books that you know are home runs because of your success with them in the past. A caution that Layne reminds us is that books that work with the maturity level of some of your classes or the academic needs level of others may not always be the right book for your class. He also reminds us that colleagues who recommend potential read-alouds to us are recommending from their personal lens, with their classes. Just because it worked for them, does not mean it will work with your students. He cautions: “the meaning on the page has not been brought to life until my life experience as a reader begins to interact with it” (pp. 54-55).

When read-aloud is presented effectively, as described in Layne’s book, you will be amazed at the number of standards your read aloud,