This semester in READ 6309 students explored components of a strong reading program. As part of their work, they were asked to contribute to our blog.
By S. Garza
As I shared with you before, Janet Allen, in Yellow Brick Roads introduced us to read-alouds as the beginning of reading with students and now she brings us to shared reading which is the next component of a strong reading program. Allen describes shared reading as a reading experience in which the teacher is reading and the students are following along in their own copy of the text. She noted that shared reading could include times when the teacher may have a copy of the text on the “overhead transparencies or in Power Point presentations.” I quoted this because I wouldn’t have thought of them as being shared reading experiences before reading this book but I can see that they are. I would have originally seen this as just a teaching time and not a shared reading.
The purpose of shared reading is for the students to listen to fluent reading. This is why Allen declares that it is important not to confuse shared reading with Round-Robin reading. In Round-Robin reading students take turns reading but it does not mean that the current reader is reading each part correctly or fluently and therefore the listener is not benefiting from the story as if it were a shared reading. During a shared reading the students are able to focus their attention on listening instead of trying to figure out how to read the words so they can focus their attention more on making meaning, on creating visual images, and other comprehension strategies.
Allen brings up an idea that I think is good but will stir controversy. She allows some of her struggling students to listen to books on tape during independent reading time. This would be considered shared reading because they are listening to a more capable reader. The problem that many could see in this would be that the student would not be getting the independent practice. I think that if the child is listening to a book that they could not read alone then they are still benefiting from it because they will be reading above their own level. However, it probably would not be a good idea to always have the student listen to a recorded book on tape. Allen found several companies that produce recorded books on tape and provides a list of them in the Appendixes A and D in her book.
I like how Allen brings in the secondary students in this chapter as well. She mentions that she feels that a teacher should read the first chapter of a book with the students even if the book is meant to be read independently. The reading of the first chapter would allow the students to get a feel for the sound the characters’ names, location, the way the author describes feelings or actions. The shared reading of the first chapter may make all the difference for some of the students.