Read Aloud Time--Make the Most of It

 Make the Most of Your Read Aloud Time
If you're like every other teacher I know, you're feeling a big squeeze on your instruction time.  There just aren't enough minutes in your day to get everything in.   I understand that some things have to go, but, I cringe every time I hear a teacher say "I just don't have time to read aloud to my kids."  Instead of taking the read-alouds out of your day, why not find ways to work them into your instructional time.

Here are a few ways the read-aloud time can be used to enhance your instructions time:
-Build excitement when introducing new topics
-Begin discussions on sensitive topics
-Model thinking strategies
-Increase student vocabulary and comprehension skills
-Set examples for classroom expectations

At the beginning of every year we spend lots of time setting up our classroom routines and explaining the expectations.  I use the book, Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo, to help establish a set of classroom expectations.  I call these expectations, Life Lessons or qualities that will help us all get along and have a successful year.

It’s my favorite read aloud book of all time!  I have a blast putting on my southern accent as I become Opal, Miss Franny, Gloria Dump and all the other wonderful characters.  The kids love it when you get into the read aloud and use your voice to enhance the moods and personalities in the story.
 Winn Dixie Free Sample--Crockett's Classroom

While I’m reading, I stop once in a while to share my thinking and encourage the kids to share theirs. (great way to introduce metacognition) For every two chapters I guide the discussion toward one “Life Lesson”.  In chapter 1 Opal comes home from the store with a stray dog.  She got the dog when she told the manager the stray belonged to her.  So our discussion is about truthfulness and honesty.  It can be a great discussion because Opal’s little white lie has saved a dog’s life. But, does that make it ok to be dishonest?

For every two chapters we discuss these life lessons: honesty,  curiosity, compassion, responsibility, courage, teamwork, respect, loyalty, generosity, friendship, self-discipline, perseverance, and joyfulness.  Using this read aloud at the very beginning of the school year we not only set the tone for a caring and supportive classroom, we also bond as a class through the shared experience of enjoying this wonderful book.

Here are the life lesson discussion cards you can use with the book, Because of Winn Dixie.

Do you have a read aloud book you use to begin your year?

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