Reading stories aloud to students have been proven as a powerful way to improve students’ vocabulary and fluency. Read aloud models proper reading expression and has the ability to expose student to text that is well above their independent reading level. However, one skill that is often over looked during read aloud is comprehension strategies. Read aloud is a great time to model comprehension strategies, and to have students monitor their own comprehension strategies.
Teachers can model comprehension strategies by doing a think aloud. While reading, take time to stop and tell students about the predictions, connections, visualizations, questions and inferences that are going on in your mind. As teachers, we often assume that because we are doing these things while we read, then our students must be doing them as well. Unfortunately, this is not always a true assumption. Students must be trained to do this. By modeling for students how we are comprehending, we are reminding them to use comprehension strategies while they read.
In addition to modeling comprehension strategies, we should be showing students how to monitor their own comprehension strategies. I do this with guided questions and read aloud journals. Each day, my students have a guided question, which we talk about BEFORE we begin reading. This way, when students are listening to my read aloud, they are listening with a purpose. (This is especially helpful for ESL and SPED students.) After reading, they record their answer on their Read Aloud Journal, and we discuss their answers as a class.
I think about this in the Before – During – After reading concept that we often teach our students. Before reading, we think about what we should be focused on. During reading, we use and model our strategies. After reading we think about what we read or heard.