Interactive Read Aloud

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Interactive read aloud with webinar replay. How can you teach for deep comprehension? Reading comprehension is taught through an interactive read aloud.

Interactive Read Aloud: Webinar Follow Up!

November 13 Deedee 11 min read

Interactive Read Alouds are my newest passion I think and I was so thrilled to share my excitement with you all last night. The webinar was far from perfect, but hopefully, you could glean some new ideas.  

BRACE yourself… this is aloonnggg post.

What is it?

Interactive read aloud with webinar replay. How can you teach for deep comprehension? Reading comprehension is taught through an interactive read aloud.

An interactive read aloud is a systematic method of reading a book aloud. The teacher is doing the word decoding work and the students are asked to do the thinking work.  Through careful planning,  teachers can scaffold the student’s understanding of the book being read.  The teacher also models strategies for comprehension as well as teaches vocabulary.

Research has demonstrated that the most effective read-alouds are those where children are actively involved in asking and answering questions and making predictions, rather than passively listening.

Talking, writing, and/or drawing in response to reading gives kids an opportunity to make their thinking visible. 

Passion is contagious… GREAT instruction starts with passion.  Some books just BEG to be read over and over again.  In order to have meaningful

conversation, you must start with a great book!

Book Suggestions?

Here are some books that spark conversations!  I am sure you will find many of your favorite books.  We purposely selected books that you may already have in your personal collection. If you scroll to the end of this post, you can grab these lists for FREE!



With an interactive read aloud, careful planning is needed.  So you need time to LIVE with the book before you attempt to read it to your students.

I have been guilty of grabbing a book off the shelf and thinking, hmm… this will be good. Only I either under-bake the book and just skim the meaning of the text OR I end up with a surprise.  Have you ever read a book and then had to back peddle?

With  close reading, we read the same book every day.  Each day we set a new purpose for reading. Does this mean that we don’t read other books… just because?  No.  We read multiple books per day.  Some books are JUST FUN!  Some books hold content that we are covering. But for comprehension strategy lessons, we stick with the same text Monday-Friday.

Reading Comprehension Strategies 

There are some strategies that lend themselves to the beginning of the book.  These are strategies that generally done on the first day of the book.  Naturally, if they already know the story, then making a prediction is not that meaty.  I like to ask the students to make a prediction when there is evidence gathered to help
them.  Making a prediction without evidence then becomes a wild goose chase.

Naturally, with picture books, the illustrator gives the reader a hand.  They provide the images. Proficient readers visualize and create images using different senses to better understand what they read. As students progress in their reading into say, chapter books, images are not available and they must make their own mental images.I have worked as an interventionist with a group of 4th graders who could decode like the wind, but their comprehension was low.  When I asked them to visualize, I found they were unable to with explicit instruction. So we worked on drawing the images they saw. 

The images below are from our kindergarten students as they visualize:

Gritch from Piggie Pie.

 As a whole class, we put the events in order. 

Then students partner-talk (we name the partners “peanut butter” or jelly”) and retell the events in the story.  The peanut butters start at the beginning and when I say switch, the jellys continue on from there.  When they get to the end of the story, they start over again.  In this way, EVERYONE is participating in the retell.  The partners must listen to each other so they will know when to chime in.  Then they will construct the retell individually (craft or in their notebook).

Some stories are harder to tell in a sequential order because there are related series of events, but they don’t necessarily have to happen sequentially.  So we do an “In the story” “Not in the story” activity.

 Making Connections is another strategy we focus on.

 We can infer like nobody’s business!

 Here are some of the other reading strategies we use with texts.

Opinion writing is a weekly activity with each book.


Each week we pull 2 words from the text and examine their meaning.  Because the students are hearing the same words over and over, the words become permanent.  We are asked why we don’t have vocabulary pictures in our units.  So let’s think for a second on what we want students to do.  Do we want them to memorize a picture for the vocabulary word (which is the academic equivalent to looking it up in the dictionary)?  No, we don’t!  “Best Practices” says that vocabulary is learned in the context of the text.   So we want students to seek out the meaning of unknown words by reading the words in context.  For more on this, I recommend the book Word Nerds (affiliate link).

 Interactive writing

Each  day we work on interactive writing.

Interactive writing is a  powerful way to demonstrate writing.  It invites kids to “come along, let’s compose and write this together.” When we respond to a writing prompt we ALWAYS start by talking.  First and foremost they are doing the hard work of comprehension!  Once we feel we have an idea of the message we want to convey, the students share in the composition of that message.

Here are some examples:  

 #1 We were building our schema chart on oviparous animals.   I called on students to help stretch out the sounds.  Unlike writers workshop, I help them with the sounds they don’t know, but I hold them accountable to the sounds they DO know.  I will share more on how I gather this data.  I knew this little friend knew the /sh/ sound in isolation, so I asked him to transfer this knowledge to his work.

#2  Whoops! A capital letter!  This was in January when I was really working on getting those capital and lowercase letters correct.

#3 This is the same message.  I wrote “this”, my friend in picture 2 wrote “is”, I wrote “Peter” {oh!  That’s a person’s name, I need a capital
letter!} my friend wrote snowman. Realize you have 2.2 seconds before their attention span is GONE!  So move quickly while you reinforce writing
conventions!  (spaces, capital letters, punctuation… oh my!)

#4 What are the lines for?  We compose the message together.  Example:  I have a heaping pile of snow.  We say the sentence over and over and
over in lots of different voices.  Then draw a line for each word.  This was a vocabulary example.

When students go off to write their own response, they may decide to copy what we have written, but you will find, over time, they will go off and write their own response.  In my opinion, it is okay to let them copy in the beginning. Remember… this is INTERACTIVE Writing, NOT writer’s workshop!

How do we know they got the big idea?  Read their responses!  These reading response sheets look like the students listened in on the story and picked up on the words the author used to describe the qualities of a good President.

Whoops!  I need to provide more instruction.  If they miss it this week… no problem!  These strategies are spirally taught.   They will have another opportunity later in the month or in another unit.

Kid friend rubrics are important!

Knowing what they know is important.  ESGI provides the tools to easily assess students AND helps you scaffold your instruction to support their transfer of skills.  It is one thing for a student to “test” that they know something.  It is another thing to see them transfer this knowledge into practice.

For those who need a comprehension summative assessment, we have those as well.  I have entered the same tests into ESGI so you can test and hold the data there.  I have added August to December so far.   Even if you don’t use our Guiding Reader’s units, you can still use these assessments.

Questions and Answers From the Webinar

Q:  So there about 15 variations on this question:  How to you keep all readers engaged?

A:  First of all, I am animated when I read a book.  I rarely sit and read.  I am usually walking and reading while I weave my way through the students sitting on the carpet.  If I have someone playing beauty shop, I use proximity to get their attention.  After the first two weeks, everyone understands that they will be responsible for the learning.  THEY are going to be talking to their partners about our comprehension focus.  THEY are going to be responding in writing (which might just be an illustration… that is OK if that is where they are academically.)

Q:  How to you engage reluctant readers?

A:   Sort of the same idea up above.  99% of your students love what you love.  If you are excited, they are excited.  Also understand, if you are expecting your students to do something that is outside of their range of ability, they might push back.  So know your students!  Keep data handy so you can get the most out of your students without jumping outside of their zone of proximal development.

Q:   What do you do if your district has a “program” to follow but you want to use Guiding Readers?

A:  I know I have been blessed that I have never had a basal or “program” to follow.  However, from time to time districts that I have worked in have proposed them.  Here is how I have handled it.   YOU have to know the research and what best practices surrounding instruction suggest.  I can tell you that best practices do not support basal readers.  YOU must be well versed in it if you are going to bring about change.  Here are some authors I can suggest:

READING:  Debbie Miller, Stephanie Harvey

WRITING:  Matt Glover, Katie Wood Ray

MATH:  Kathy Richardson, John Van de Walle

Here is my opinion.   99.9% of the principals out there are looking for the best results for their students.  I believe that they have the best interest of students in mind.  So how to your bring about change?

1.  Know your stuff and be able to articulate your instructional beliefs.

2.  Approach your principal in this way.  Ask him/her if you can beta test a new practice.  Invite them to come into your classroom for a baseline lesson.  Ask him/her to return 4 weeks later after teaching this other way and I KNOW they will be impressed.  Don’t take my word for it.  Here are some 

What other teachers are saying!

“I work at a small charter school in xxxxxx. I teach a k/1 multiage class. We are a TAP school–you may not be familiar but basically each year we are given a value added score. It’s based on a scale of 1-5. 1 being when students regress, 3 is when they show a years growth and a 5 is showing significant growth. These are based on MAP scores. For the last two years, I’ve been a solid 3 which I was thrilled with! I’ve been using your Writing Workshop for years and last year I added your Guiding Readers and adjusted your Guiding Firsties math so it could meet the needs of my Kinders as well. I just heard that my last years value added was a 5!! Thanks so much for developing an awesome curriculum in all areas! I saw my kids grow SO much last year!”

“This entire unit is phenomenal! I am into the second week of teaching it and am so impressed with the growth my kindergarteners are showing already. This unit has it all: organization, routine, higher level thinking skills, and covers ALL of the standards in one neat little bundle! Thank you!”

 “These packets are so great!!! My Superintendent stopped to watch a lesson during a walk through and was very impressed!”

“I LOVE this bundle! It is exactly what I have been looking for. I teach ESOL Kindergarteners of different proficiency levels, and the lesson plans here work very well with all of them. The students are always excited to do the activities and are always engaged in while I’m reading the books to them. I love the detailed lesson plans, they make my job so much easier! I just have to print them out and print the resources out, and I’m all set! 🙂 Thank you so much for this!”

“This has worked miracles in my classroom. My outdated basal series needed help. You solved my needs and helped me develop passionate readers!”

“Love, Love, Love, these units. They are a life saver! My principal came in and observed me and I was teaching with these lessons. He was very impressed, and I got great scores. Thanks for all your hard work.”

“I have purchased every unit created and will continue to do so until I have them all. I love the completeness of each lesson. My District uses the DRA for benchmark testing and these units have been vital to the success of my students. All aspects of literacy are carefully woven throughout each lesson — and I can modify if needed. In short, no matter how I choose to use these units my lessons are always complete. I am so grateful to you for the countless hours spent on creating such quality. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“My literacy coach walked in to my room while we were in the middle of one of these guiding readers lessons. She couldn’t stop talking about how great it was and how engaged the students were and what a great way to hit multiple core standards in one lesson. Thank you for making me look so good!”

“WOW! We are loving this. My K kids are drawing things about stories that I did not think possible! I have had numerous visitors who cannot believe the conversations that my children are having about the books that we have read – love the quick letter review, my children are so excited to begin blending! Thanks”

I hope the quotes don’t sound braggy, but I honestly feel that our Guiding Readers are like our babies.  We are so thrilled to hear that you all love them too. You can read more reviews HERE and HERE.

Thank you for hanging in with me!

Interactive read aloud with webinar replay. How can you teach for deep comprehension? Reading comprehension is taught through an interactive read aloud.

Here is the webinar replay.   Sorry… the sound was not great for this one. 

Grab the FREE book list with curriculum map below

PSST… It has a sample unit in this download too.  Woot! Woot!


  • Jennifer Larkin November 14 at 1:03 am

    I really enjoyed listening to you last night. I have purchased the December Guiding Readers unit and I am excited to try it out. Thanks for sharing your expertise and resources!

    • Deedee November 14 at 1:05 am

      You are so welcome! I hope you will be thrilled with the results and the easy of implementation. Good luck! I would love to see pictures!!!

  • Emily Brown November 14 at 11:48 am

    SON OF A BISCUIT! How did I miss this?!?!?!?!!?! 🙁 🙁 🙁 I am so depressed right now. Ha! I read over the Q and A just now and I think probably one of the biggest questions you get is how do you fit this in when you have a "program" you have to follow?? I am in that boat and I can tell you it isn't easy. BUT, I pick and choose the main "ideas" in my program {which is Journeys — and not too shabby) – and then tie them in to the books and activities you provide in Guiding Readers. I just LOVE the books that you use and they are so much more kindergarten friendly than the big books and readers from Journeys, you know? Anyway, so sad I missed this and I am LOVING kindergarten and have sent many teachers your way for Guiding Readers and all of your other fabulous stuff. 🙂 Sorry so long!!

    • Deedee November 14 at 12:06 pm

      Emily, you made me snort with your biscuit comment. Ha! I added a link so people can go back and read it, but I think it's hard to see in my post, so I'll make it easier to find.

      I guess my response to fitting it all in is: You have to do what is best for kids. If you have practices that are working and the results reflect that, then you probably don't need to make much of a change. But in the past, I felt something was missing and that having meaningful conversations were missing in my daily whole group reading. This is where our concept for Guiding Readers came in. I hope that helps. Thank you so much for your comment. We sometimes just need our instructional day to last 15 hours. Ha!!!

  • Positively Learning November 14 at 12:02 pm

    It was such a pleasure to attend this webinar – thank you for sharing your expertise! I'm also so thrilled you introduced all of us to that fabulous book. I had NEVER heard of it & absolutely LOVE it! I can't wait for your next PD 🙂 Jen

    • Deedee November 14 at 12:08 pm

      Thank you so much Jen! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I was a bit apprehensive about chatting to my computer for an hour without seeing the faces of the people I talked to. Ha!

  • Carolyn Kisloski November 14 at 2:00 pm

    You. Are. Amazing. I love all of this. I am really going to try to get this into our district because it's EVERYTHING right there. And by the way- the comments are so genuine and real- that's what people should see! You are NEVER bragging. Are you kidding me? If I wrote something like this, I'd have those comments on billboards! <3 Thank you so much for sharing your link to the webinar, too. I wasn't home when you actually did it, so I'm so happy to be able to watch it and share it so we can get the program.

    • Deedee November 14 at 4:55 pm

      You are the BEST! Thank you so much!!!!! MWAHH!!!

  • Jennifer Taylor November 14 at 11:30 pm

    I am super excited to try the ESGI assessments you created (even if I do have to pay for it myself LOL)…BUT, the link just takes me to the picture and not your "super great discount" haahaa. Can you do me a HUGE favor and check the link (or tell me it's user error and I need to figure it out)? I did the webinar on Thursday but didn't write down the discount code (assuming your link/discount is the same). Thanks a ton and really enjoyed your "speed reading" of Ordinary Mary 🙂

    • Deedee November 15 at 3:48 am

      So sorry! I just fixed it! You will seriously love ESGI! I always suggest watching the videos. They will help you set up your class SUPER quick!

  • blissmamaof3 November 16 at 12:09 am

    i loved the webinar! I've been teaching with Guided Readers for the past 2 months and hearing you do it helped me understand the process a bit better. Thank you! Where is the link to the free instructional unit? I thought I understood it would be in this blog post.

    • Deedee November 16 at 1:57 am

      It is! It is hidden behind original webinar advertisement image.

  • Kristin Moritz November 17 at 5:33 pm

    LOVED the Webinar! Love all you do!! I would love to see my district adapt this instead of a series! So much more appropriate!
    I do have one question – I downloaded the "free" unit. Is that a complete unit for that book or is there even more when you purchase one?
    Such great ideas! Doing something like this has been on my mind for ahile – but I am no where near as productive as you! Thanks!

    • Deedee November 17 at 7:44 pm

      Hey there!!

      Yes, the download is typically what we do for each book. Each book might have different activities, but essentially you will have 5 days worth of comprehension and response activities for each book. I did include the phonemic awareness because it so important. I did not include the phonics instruction that is also in each unit. It would have been difficult to include it because it is HUGE!

    • Kristin Moritz November 20 at 5:39 pm

      Hey you!
      Thank you!! I just want to know so I can try and talk the district into getting us these instead of a series. 🙂 Wish me luck!!

  • The Juggling Teacher January 6 at 12:28 am

    Hi I loved your webinar, just checking back in again because I thought we were supposed to receive the December unit for registering for the webinar. Did I understand that correctly? If so, I need to know how to receive mine. Thanks so much! I (AND MY KINDERS) LOVE EVERYTHING YOU CREATE!!!

  • […] more about interactive read alouds in THIS […]

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  • Balanced Literacy Approach March 13 at 6:30 pm

    […] A few years back I did a webinar and blog post that goes into great detail on interactive read aloud’s.  You can read that blog post HERE. […]

  • kim malengo August 15 at 7:38 am

    Love this information on interactive read aloud! Is there somewhere I can download the “visualize, tect details, connections posters” They would be awesome to post or use during the lessons and for my principal to see as well when he comes in the room!

  • Susan Rodriguez July 22 at 7:56 pm

    Somehow I ran across your blog on Interactive Read Alouds! I love your material and really wish I could clone you for myself!! I’ve taught kindergarten for 20 years now and have always had to teach by myself since I’m the only kindergarten teacher. I could use all the help I can get teaching reading! Can you tell me what ESGI is? Thank you so much for sharing with all of us! I have a new principal this year and I’m so nervous he’s going to see that I stink at teaching reading skills! Any help would be appreciated!
    Thank you,

  • Leave a Reply

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    My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching to different age groups and in different classroom environments. My heart belongs to early childhood education and I love working with other teachers who share this same love as me. Read More


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