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How do read alouds fit within remote learning?

august 25, 2020

As teachers prioritize their instruction to prepare for remote learning, it may be tempting to forego tried-and-true practices such as the classroom read aloud. However, whether teaching in person or remotely, there is tremendous value in delivering a regular read aloud of a carefully selected text.

In order to get the most value out of this instructional strategy, it is important to plan ahead for both format and function.

Read-aloud format

Executing a frequent read aloud can be done live or via a recording. For teachers who connect with students using platforms such as Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom, the live video format can be a magnet for student engagement. When a teacher looks straight into the webcam as though she was looking directly into the eyes of her students, it creates the personal connection that many kids long for during distancing learning. In fact, this may become one of the students’ most valued components to eSchool.

(Ramp up the engagement even more for older students when you invite them to offer real-time feedback in the chat area during the reading.)

For teachers who are not able to utilize live video, a viable alternative may be to create a recorded read aloud and then share access with students via platforms like YouTube or Vimeo.

While both of these video formats will feel different than an in-class reading, they offer an opportunity for kids to see their teachers in a familiar role. And if you make the reading intriguing and interesting, then the kids won’t want to miss out.

Read-aloud function

After determining how to deliver the read aloud (i.e., live or recorded), the next essential decision is which texts to read from. Consider a wide variety of text types—picture books, chapter books, novels, essays, speeches, poetry, etc.

Although there are various texts that could be read aloud, be choosy about the one you select. Gone are the days when valuable instructional time can be spent reading books aloud just because they are among our favorites or because they contain a “cute” story. During our professional development for teachers, the Smekens team has long encouraged educators to select texts that go deep in value. Consider how portions of a single text may be used for a wide variety of spin-off lessons in the future.

The read aloud itself provides students with the basic gist of a text. But even more valuable to the classroom teacher is that now portions of that text can be reread with different lenses and for various academic purposes.

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