Thursday, August 9, 2012

Using Read Aloud to Build Caring Classroom Communities


all of you awesome teachers!  What I realize about our choices is that just as books help our students craft readerly lives the read alouds we choose help to shape our classroom communities – from The Tiger Rising to The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to The Year of the Book. All have the potential to create caring classroom communities – where students not only care about reading, but care about each other as well.  

When speaking about helping our students explore their reading identities, Jennifer Serravallo in Independent Reading Assessment: Fiction says that, “Too often, I hear students refer to themselves as a level.  “I’m a P,” they’ll say to a classmate. Part of me wants to giggle at the image of a big letter P walking around with the student’s legs, arms and head stuck to it. The other part of me is saddened – this is a student who only sees himself as a letter, without an identity of his or her own.” What a sad, but true commentary – as much as  I know that it is important for kids to have books in their hands that they can read with a high degree (96% or better) of accuracy, fluency and comprehension – at times, I feel like leveling comes with a price.  Therefore, I think we need to do all that we can to downplay leveling in our classrooms. However, at the same time, as Hattie’s research shows, feedback and goal setting are important to achievement, so it begs the question: how can we be honest with a child and at the same time preserve their dignity?  

I think a lot of it has to do with tone and encouraging kids to look forward instead of looking back with words like “I know that you’re here right now . . . but with a little spirit and guts . . . you’ll be moving in leaps and bounds in no time!”  This is really the spirit behind Lucy’s early lessons on The Best of Times and the Worst of Times for those of you who are familiar with the Reading UOS Series Grades 3-5.  Colleagues, what do you do at the start of the year to help students craft readerly lives and see themselves – not as levels – but as readers? What do you do to downplay the negative effect levels can have on how a child sees herself as a reader?  I stumbled upon this video and thought – in striving to bring technology into the workshop – wouldn't it be a great idea to have students create videos of reading recommendations. Check it out here:

It would draw on their love of tech (a great motivator) and inspire them to share books they loved with others (and help with summarizing the key ideas and supporting details which is  CCLS RL 4.2) – it’s all about creating a culture of caring about reading and each other.


  1. Love the idea of video book recommendations. It would also help me bring technology into the classroom as that is my weakest area. I believe we have ipads (in our district) with apps that enable this kind of creation. A great way to celebrate our reading.

  2. I've been wanting to do video recommendations Ever since I became a teacher - do you remember Reading Rainbow with Levar Burton? I now have an iPad . If anyone knows how to do a quick easy video, please let me know. ThNks

  3. Great insights! Students who Lear to progress monitor their own reading ability will grow to be more confident readers


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