Interactive Read-Aloud as a Foundational Practice

Clip read aloud  Literacy Collaborative trainers, coaches, and the teachers with whom they work understand how foundational the Interactive Read-Aloud is. We know because we’ve experienced the power in building conversation around a text to construct meaning, and we’re awed by the thinking that our students display day in and day out as we provide opportunities through this all-important context.

I spent some time recently in a 5th grade classroom with students who had never experienced an Interactive Read-Aloud. After modeling the practice and engaging students on six different occasions, I interviewed the teacher to get her impressions. One of the comments she made was, “I think as a typical classroom teacher, we feel the pressure of having to deliver so much, but this is a perfect tie-in to let them learn. I don’t have to give the answer. I don’t have to deliver it all. They do the delivering. They teach each other. They build those ideas and even prompt questions in me. I think that’s something we have to do more of. We don’t make enough time in the day to do that. I think this Interactive Read-Aloud is very valuable.” More »


In order to monitor student progress and success in literacy, effective schools use both formative and summative assessments. Both are meant to develop a feedback loop between student learning and instructional practices. They provide teachers and students with information about strengths and challenges, driving instructional decisions for further learning.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessments are ongoing, taking place during the learning process and providing continuous, immediate feedback regarding teaching and learning. They may include anecdotal records, classroom observations, student self-assessments, entries within the writer’s notebook, oral tasks, portfolio pieces, diagnostic tests, quizzes, essays, performance tasks, conversations, writing samples, or exit slips. Some specific formative assessments are as follows: Reader’s Notebook (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001), Observation Survey (Clay, 2002), Benchmark Assessment System (Fountas & Pinnell, 2007), Running Records (Clay, 2002)), and Developmental Spelling Assessment (Ganske, 2000). Frequent assessment guides teachers to “help children move from where they are to somewhere else” by developing responsive curricula in real-time, during the learning process (Clay, 1998). It improves instructional methods, increases differentiation to meet student needs, and provides valuable feedback for both teachers and students. Formative assessment can result in significant learning gains but only when the assessment results are used to inform the instructional and learning process (Black & William, 1998). They are often referred to as assessments “for learning.” More »

Interactive Read-Aloud Recommendations

When engaging children in the practice of Interactive Read-Aloud, it is important to choose high quality text that will promote good conversation. In addition, exposing students to a wide range of authors, genre, and content will broaden their repertoire of experiences. I am often asked for a list of recommendations, and although many lists have been published by others, I’ve compiled my own personal list of favorites. What follows is a variety of titles that I have personally used during Interactive Read-Aloud with intermediate readers. I would love to hear some of your favorites as well! More »