Essential Instructional Practices
For Oral Comprehension
Reading Aloud in a Gradual Release of Responsibility Model includes explicit instruction, guided practice, collaboration, and independent work. Descriptions of these are as follows:
1. Explicit Instruction (modeling): The Read Aloud
The teacher reads aloud a wide variety of texts from different genres. The teacher periodically stops at strategic points during the reading to “think aloud” about what has been read. While the teacher does the reading of the text, students are invited to discuss what they hear or what they are thinking and/or to respond to the reading.
2. Guided Practice: The Shared Read Aloud
Teachers and students read together from an enlarged text. In the early grades, enlarged texts may be in the form of big books, charts, or posters. The teacher reads a wide variety of text, thinking aloud and modeling behaviors used by proficient readers. Shared reading is different from The Read Aloud as students are asked to "join in" the reading of the text when appropriate. The text is selected to demonstrate a specific strategy, skill, or particular text type. This video shows a shared reading of a big book with an intentional focus on basic concepts of print.
3. Guided Practice: Dialogic Reading
Dialogic reading engages younger children (Pre-K, 1st grade) in conversation about the read aloud. There are four main elements in dialogic reading: using a variety of questions to prompt conversation, evaluating the child’s response by affirming correct responses or correcting if needed, expanding on the child’s language by adding to the response, and encouraging the child to repeat the expanded language.
Whitehurst and other colleagues developed a basic reading technique for dialogic reading termed PEER, which stands for prompt, evaluate, elaborate, and repeat (Whitehurst, Epstein, Angell, Payne, Crone, & Fischel, 1994). In this process the adult prompts the child to comment about a certain work or concept, evaluates these comments, elaborates by expanding on the child’s response, and repeats the prompt to allow the child an opportunity to present a more detailed response.
4. Collaboration: Text Talk
Text Talk is a process that gives students an opportunity to think together about the concepts, vocabulary, and ideas of a text in the context of the read aloud experience. Proposed by Isabel Beck and Margaret McKeown, (Beck, I. & McKeown, M., 2001), Text Talk interactions are based on open-ended questions first posted by the teacher during the read aloud that ask children to consider ideas about the story. As discussion continues, students are encouraged to pose their own questions; conversation between students is encouraged.
The six steps of Text Talk are as follows:
- Select texts with complex events/ rigor (rigor as CAPE: complex, ambiguous, provocative, emotional from Teaching What Matters Most, Strong, R., Silver, H., & Perini, M., 2001.)
- Intersperse open-ended questions requiring students to explain the text
- Ask follow-up questions that encourage elaboration
- Present visuals (pictures or photos) after students have responded to text
- Engage students’ use of background knowledge to support or disprove assertions
- Support vocabulary word identification that engages students in direct discussion after reading
5. Independent: Independent Reading with Conversation
Students engage in structured independent reading of a self-selected text or as part of a book club or literature circle, employing previously learned reading strategies to understand the text. Students use notes taken during independent reading or reading log entries to support conversation with other peers. Some of the topics/ questions that could be discussed are as follows:
- Who are the important characters in the text and how do you know?
- How did the author organize the text?
- What was the author’s message to the reader?
The following video features a small group conversation of fifth-grade students around a common text they read during independent reading. To view, click here.
Semantic or Concept Mapping is an instructional practice that involves connecting the target word with related concepts. Creating a meaningful context for the word helps students remember and utilize the newly learned vocabulary.
Another type of semantic/concept map is called a Frayer Model Map (Farstrup & Samuels, 2008).
Functional Grammar is an approach to language learning that places the emphasis on the meaning of a text based on a specific purpose. With context in mind, students learn about how language works to create a whole text written for a particular audience. Students are given an opportunity to discuss what they notice and build understanding by analyzing a text together. They take note of how an author creates a message; they identify the choices the author makes to fit the purpose of the text. In this way, students make the transition from understanding the purpose of someone else’s text to creating a text that meets their needs.
Functional grammar helps students build a language to talk about language (meta-language). This PowerPoint introduces the concepts of participants (Who/What is this about?) and processes (What is happening? What is going on?). It provides a context (a familiar fairy tale) to identify word choices and create a text using those choices.
Beck, I. L., & M. G. McKeown. (2001). Text Talk: Capturing the benefits of read-aloud experiences for young children. The Reading Teacher, 55, 10-20.
Strong, R. W., Silver, H. F., & Perini, M. (2001). Teaching what matters most. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Whitehurst, G.J., Epstein, J. N., Angell, A. L., Payne, A. C., Crone, D. A., & Fischel, J. E. (1994). Outcomes of an emergent literacy intervention in Head Start. Journal of Educational Psychology, 86(4), 542-555.