Read Aloud Reimagined

This week, we started “school” again. From my kitchen table to my kiddos in their bedrooms, living rooms, and backyards, we connect and learn.

So much of what I think about these days is how to create an online experience that feels like the learning we do in class. Transfering simple moves, like the use of post-ts and anchor charts, took me time. What is obvious today wasn’t on week one or two or three. I can only imagine what I will discover by week ten.

This week. we started a new read aloud. As much as I want students to turn and talk, controlling that interaction seemed impossible in a zoom environment.

New norms were set.
During read aloud, audio is muted, screens are off, the chatbox is quiet.
I told students, “Your job is to listen, envision, and jot your thoughts.”

With these expectations in place, I read the first four chapters of Katherine Applegate’s Wishtree.

Pausing to stop and think as a reader. Wondering if wishtrees really existed in the world.
Asking students to jot what they would wish for if they had a wishtree.
Wondering whether Red is a boy or a girl tree.
Wondering what the problem in the story might be.
All along, their answers were muted.

When I got to the stopping spot, I asked students to open up the chat and share their thoughts in writing.

Slowly, it started.

Wishtrees are real. They have them in Japan.
I’d wish for a dog.
Maybe someone is going to cut down the Wishtree.
This is similar to The One and Only Ivan because the main character is talking to us.
It’s also because a human isn’t the main character.
Katherine Applegate likes characters who aren’t human.
I’d wish for my own room.
I’d wish we’d be back at school.
It’s also like Ivan because there are illustrations.
Wishtree is wise.
Optimists are people who see the good in bad situations.
I’m Wishtree and S- is Bongo.
Hey! Why am I Bongo?
Because you’re shorter.
I’d wish for the end of COVID.

Hmm. The good in bad situations. This chat stream was exactly that.


9 thoughts on “Read Aloud Reimagined

  1. How cool that you were able to get responses in chat from kids. I know it is not the same as face-to-face emotional reactions in classroom. I don’t do read aloud in google meet. I record the read aloud and post it on SeeSaw where they can leave comments. I weighed whether to do it during our meet or record. I accepted that my option is ok too when I heard that in some families siblings join to listen in too, and one child said that she loves taking her snack and going to a porch to listen to the read aloud. It’s kind of sweet that they can choose the time and place when to listen to me. We have talked about the book when I have had individual or small group meets with them. We are reading “One and Only Ivan.” 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for this post. The voices of your students, so real and full of uncensored “them,” lets the air in. I am reading this a day after you posted, the fresh still breezing through and oh-so-welcome.

  3. I love the way you have adapted your teaching to allow for all to participate. So unlike a classroom when you can have some sort of control over the discussion. I like how your questions led them to thoughts that were normal kiddy stuff to more deep reflection. I wish I could do this with my kids.

  4. “New norms were set.
    During read aloud, audio is muted, screens are off, the chatbox is quiet.
    I told students, “Your job is to listen, envision, and jot your thoughts.””

    This bit of nuts and bolts really helped me. We’re set to start a new read aloud Friday, and I love hearing from you that these norms work.

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