Different Read Alouds for Different Classes

For the first time ever, I abandoned a read aloud with some of my classes.  I’ve always persevered through the ups and downs of read alouds, knowing that the payoff would be worth it in the end.  Some books do take longer to get into than others and I think it is important for my students to understand that you can’t quit a book after 10-15 pages.

But all of that changed last month.  I started out reading Also Known As Harper to all four of my classes. My morning classes were flying through it and really got into the story after about 50 pages. My two afternoon classes were an entirely different story- after 3 weeks we were only 60 pages into the book. I don’t think it had anything to do with the storyline- The kids were just not connecting with the story for one reason or another. I still haven’t determined why- maybe the fact both classes are at the end of the day, or the makeup of the classes themselves (my afternoon classes lean very heavily towards the male end). But for the first time I set the book aside and started a completely different read aloud with those classes.

I began reading All The Broken Pieces to those afternoon classes and it was a completely different mood! All of a sudden, they were engaged and begging me to read more. I have students who are looking up more information on the Vietnam War and bringing their research to class, just because they are interested in it.  I really agonized over abandoning a read aloud but now I am so glad that I did.  It was not worth dragging them through the rest of the book while they were disengaged- that would only accomplish the exact opposite of what my read alouds aim to accomplish.

It’s funny, because my morning classes loved Also Known As Harper.  I loved Also Known As Harper.  It’s a great book and one I really wanted to share it with my classes.  But I’m glad that I practiced what I preach and allowed us to abandon a book that just wasn’t clicking with the classes I teach in the afternoon.  I discussed the abandonment with the class and we hypothesized why it might not have been working.  A few students did ask to finish the book so they borrowed my copy and are reading the remainder of the story independently.  It was definitely a learning experience, but a positive one.  So don’t be afraid to abandon a read aloud that is not working!

NCTE 2009

Today was uplifting, inspiring, and outstanding. I regret that I did not go to all four days of NCTE and I definitely plan to go back the next time the convention is in the area. If you have not gone to NCTE you need to get there- it is unreal! (I do, however, regret having to get up at 4:30am to get into Philly by 7:45am)

My panel presented at 8:30am and I figured we would have no more than ten people, due to the early hour and the fact that it was the last day of the conference. Needless to say, I was shocked because we had close to 50 people attend! I had so much fun preaching about the merits of read alouds in the upper grades and I think I convinced a few audience members to give it a try.

For those of you who could not attend, I have attached my handouts below.

Please feel free to email me or comment if you have any questions!

First Read Aloud of the Year

We are about 15 pages into our first read aloud of the year- Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me.  So far I think it’s working out well with our 55 minute periods.  I’ve been dedicating the first 10 minutes of the class to our read-aloud in order to motivate my students to get to class on time.  Seems to be working so far!

What are you using as your first read aloud this year?

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