Why Shared Reading after Primary?

If I had to choose one component of a comprehensive literacy program that confounds teachers after primary grades, it’s shared reading.  We have a variety of definitions of what ‘shared’ means. We have nostalgiac ties that associate shared reading with choral reading. Sometimes I hear that students are bored looking at the same text for so many days.  My response?

  • What is your criteria for text selection?
  • Have you considered your definition of ‘text’?
  • How are you intentionally planning to help students unpack a text over the week?
  • Does your planning incorporate collaborative learning?

Shared reading can be a powerful learning time for students. Whereas the read aloud tends to be narrative, and student independent reading is also often fiction/non-fiction narrative, shared reading can be ANYTHING: image, video, audio, art, web-based, multimedia…and print.  It can be ANYTHING: descriptive, expository, persuasive or narrative, or any format: infographics, two page layouts, poems, songs, novel excerpts, photo essays, video clips, informational excerpts, news articles, opinion pieces, etc. Consider Scholastic’s Issues 21, Take Action, or magazine subscriptions like Scope or Action. Your library has collections of Boldprint and The 10.  Perhaps you’ll visit Teaching Kids News, or Wonderopolis. Yes even a critical look at a twitter moment! So long as your selection is rich enough to engage readers over days and relevant to the learning needs of your students.

Why do Shared Reading?

  • an exciting place to introduce a variety of texts that a teacher wouldn’t choose for a read aloud and students may not choose for pleasure reading; it’s a safe space to ‘try on’ reading many different text types since we are different readers depending on text.
  • an opportunity for explicit instruction around comprehension strategies, text features, unfamiliar vocabulary, etc.
  • **repeated readings, along with instruction, support struggling readers. As does access to Read and Write for Google!
  • contributes to a reading community through a shared experience
  • offers a scaffold in the gradual release of responsibility; it bridges the instructional distance from teacher read aloud to independent reading
  • offers opportunities for reading/writing connections
  • an ideal spot to integrate content

What is Shared Reading?

  • 15-20 minutes daily
  • all eyes on text, either on class screen or ideally within reach (could be shared between students on hard copy or on screens)
  • text revisited over 4-5 days
  • teacher does most of the ‘heavy lifting’ early on, then as the week progresses, students take on more of the responsibility. By Friday, each student should be able to respond in some way independently that demonstrates understanding.

How do I plan for Shared Reading?

Think about a 5 day plan that progresses:

  • hook or introduction (to pique curiosity and activate background knowledge)
  • comprehension, deconstruction (what are you noticing? how are you making sense of the text?)
  • interpretation (now what are you feeling? thinking?)
  • response, application (what do you want to do about it?)

Here’s a blank template for a 5 Day Shared Reading plan.

Best Tip: Don’t reveal the text on Monday.

Instead, create anticipation, activate background knowledge through connecting images or video clips, or grab some unfamiliar vocab…..a gazillion ways. Here are some:

Monday Shared Reading ideas

Sample Shared Readings

Even after considering these ideas, maybe you’d still like to see an example, right? Here is a link to a variety of shared reading lesson plans (based on texts in Issues 21, Take Action, Graphic Poetry series, a picture book) that might help you reflect on your practice. By all means, revise them to suit your students’ needs.


More ideas for planning…

If you’re a Thames Valley teacher, check out Literacy Online in your employee portal for tons of information around shared reading, like this:

What do I need to teach in shared reading

How do I assess?

  1. Ongoing observations as you eavesdrop on student talk.
  2. Leaving tracks of thinking: a written conversation between the reader and the text.  How do we really know if a student comprehends a text? Modelling and encouraging students to leave tracks of thinking gives us insight into what strategies and skills are helping them make meaning.  What connections are helping them? What predictions are they making? What questions arise while they’re reading? All of these are revealed when students annotate their text. I’ve shared the power of this strategy in an earlier post: Leaving Tracks of Impact and Thinking
  3. Student responses to the text by Friday:  What do they want to do as a result of reading this news article? What do they want to create as a result of reading this video or infographic? What do they want to write that uses this reading as a mentor? What more do they want to explore as a result of reading this song or this non-fiction text?

tracks of thinking

Let’s up our game around shared reading so students have access to a wide variety of text and have a chance to unpack more complex text safely because of your intentional moves everyday.

ppt slides


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