Monday, March 17, 2014

Learning How to Teach Shared Reading

I want to point out that my entire post is underlined and I am not sure why.  There is absolutely no reason other than the fact that I couldn't make it stop.  :)  
When I first started teaching shared reading, I was very procedural.  I watched another teacher do it in a video and though, "Wow!  That is really cool!" and I started doing it in my classroom the very next day.  I had no idea of the power or the real purpose until much much later.  I realized how powerful it was after I learned about the literacy framework that my district uses.  Within the framework there are different levels of support.  Read aloud is the most supportive, then shared reading and finally guided reading and independent reading.I am a very visual person, so the image of the framework  really helped me to think about my teaching and the scaffolding of my students I needed to do.  I started to think about what my students need as readers.  I asked myself, "What do they have under control?  What can they almost do?  What do they need to learn next?"  I think of the framework as my toolbox, holding all of my valuable teaching tools.  I teach by using the teaching and learning model:  teach/model/demonstrate, prompt, praise, expect.  So, when I combine this with my toolbox, the teaching is very purposeful and powerful.  I don't just do things because they are cute anymore (well, maybe occasionally).  I use the tools that I have to move students forward.  Vygotsky and his Zone of Proximal Development has been a huge part of the way that I teach too.  He believes that we should teach in the zone.  That is when the child is able to do it with support.  Then you gradually release support as the child becomes ready, creating a new zone.  It's not just a theory to me.  It is my teaching life.  So...  on to shared reading.  When I think about what my students can do and what I want them to do next, I pick a shared reading piece very carefully.  If I can't find one, then I create one, using the book room books, poems or nonfiction pieces as my mentor text.  This isn't for sissies.  It's hard work, but it WORKS!  :)  Then I read the shared reading book and I think about my teaching point (as in guided reading).  I scaffold things like:  how to preview a book, how to use the pictures to understand the meaning, how to read dialogue, how to read punctuation, how to use nonfiction conventions to name a few.  I read the book with the children, often falling just a little behind so that I am not leading the reading, but participating.  When we find a tricky part, I stop when they stop.  I think, I ponder.  What are we going to do about the tricky part?  I prompt for what I have taught.  If I haven't taught it, I will teach it now.  When I teach guided reading, it is an opportunity to prompt the children as they practice what I have taught in shared reading.  Too much happens in guided reading sometimes.  Really it is supposed to be letting go of responsibility for the reading with support.  The children are to problem solve their own tricky words with prompting from the teacher because the teaching has already happened.  Shared reading is not too simple for older kids as well.  I can only imagine how things could have been different for Shakespeare and me if my teacher had engaged me in shared reading.  Left alone to swim in the words before me, I am pretty sure I nearly drowned.   

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