Thursday, November 28, 2013

ReTHINKing It Thursday-Get More Out of Your Read Aloud

 ReTHINKing It Thursday
Exploring alternatives to worksheets in the literacy classroom.

It has long been a concern of mine that many students are "worksheeted" to death at school. While worksheets are not inherently evil, many times there are better, more engaging ways for students to learn and practice the skills or strategies we are trying to teach. 

Recently I had a discussion with one of my students about how 4th grade is going for him so far.  After saying that he liked school he added, "We don't do many papers." While it was more of an observation and he didn't share if he thought this was a good or a bad thing, it did get me thinking.  I guess we don't really do many "papers" such as commercial worksheets.  Don't get me wrong here.  I DO use worksheets from time to time, when I am just too busy to find an alternative or when I feel the worksheet is just as good as any other way to teach or practice a skill.  But, whenever possible, I try to use real text, online activities, small group/partner activities, quick writes, discussion and modeling.  

So, I would like to try to start using some of my Thursday posts to offer some very simple alternatives to worksheets.  These will not be super-innovative activities here folks.  But I hope they provide different ways of THINKing about how we use our time in school. 

Today's Idea- Get more out of your read aloud. 

The benefits of read aloud can not be over stated in my opinion. They are too numerous to mention here, but I believe that read aloud is so important in my 4th grade classroom that it is the only time I will not allow any of my students to be pulled out for their support services. It is literally the only time all of my students are with me. 

Read aloud can be used to address many strategies, skills and yes (gasp) standards. 

It is important not to "kill the book" by doing too much with it. So keep it simple and brief. During the several weeks of a chapter book read aloud, you can touch upon several things. Some examples of activities include pausing for discussions, analyzing difficult or interesting words, discussing character changes, modeling think alouds, discussing an author's choices, etc.  Where you choose to focus will depend on the book and your goals.  It takes just minutes a day and really adds to your read aloud experience without killing the book. 

Here are our charts at the end of Out of My Mind. 

So there is one very simple thing you can do without a worksheet to add to your read aloud experience while teaching skills and strategies. 

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