So I got to school this morning at 8, already nervous about presenting a math lesson in first grade at 10. There was an 8:20 staff development workshop before school, school started at 9:30, and I wouldn’t have much time to prepare for my visit to first grade.
I checked my email and saw that I was supposed to present/model an interactive readaloud at the meeting, which I had agreed to in passing a week ago, but hadn’t heard about since. Swearing at the computer, and feeling some adrenaline surge through my body, I dug out the repeated interactive read-aloud (RIRA) lesson plan for Swimmy (by Leo Lionni) that I wrote last year.
The mentor teacher in charge of the meeting gave a good intro to interactive read-alouds as part of the Reader’s Workshop model, and then I got up to make my (un-prepared) presentation.
It went really well. I am comfortable in front of groups, and I know my stuff, and it didn’t hurt that right before I went up a first grade teacher said to the woman in charge, pointing at me, “she’s a master at this.” I spoke passionately about the importance of reading aloud to children with purpose.
In a repeated interactive read-aloud, you prepare ahead of time the vocabulary you want children to know, the (thoughtful) questions you will ask, and the comments you will make to model for children how good readers think about what they are reading. As to the vocabulary, it drives me crazy when teachers stop reading, ask, “does anybody know what ‘swift’ means?” and then try and try to pull the answer out of the kids when the truth is, not one child knows the meaning of the word. I said, “In a first read-aloud, it really slows things down if you try to get the kids to tell you the meanings of the words. This time through, you stop to carefully — but quickly — define or act out the words, so that by the third read-aloud, the children can do it.”
I then read the story, using my lesson plan, and inserted vocabulary support and commentary throughout. Several teachers asked questions, and I sat down, tired and relieved.
Later on, when I left work for the day, the Prince stopped me. “That was really good this morning,” he said. “Anyone would be lucky to be in your class.”