During shared reading experiences, teachers read a Big Book or enlarged text, such as a poem or portion of a familiar story, with their students, modeling reading strategies that can be used when reading difficult words independently. There are numerous strategies that teachers can use to help children read unfamiliar words. By asking students what makes sense, what sounds right, and what looks right, teachers encourage students to use all three cueing systems; effective readers pay attention to meaning, structure, and letter-sound relationships. In On Solid Ground: Strategies for Teaching Reading K-3 (2000), Sharon Taberski supports using cloze procedures to focus student’s attention to specific cueing systems. For example, if students are struggling to read for meaning, the teacher can cover up content words, or words that relate to the meaning of the text, having the students consider the meaning of the word in the context of the story or sentence. Using picture books, teachers can focus student’s attention to the illustrations, prompting them to cross-check their reading; when readers cross-check, they use the illustration and the initial letters of the difficult word to figure out what the word is. This is a particularly useful strategy to help emergent and early readers use that need extra support in learning how to decode unfamiliar words. If, for example, a student reads, “I jumped into the pond” instead of reading “I jumped into the river“, the teacher could prompt the students to study the illustration and the initial letter of the word river to redirect the student’s reading. Teachers want students to develop a disposition to read in a more thoughtful, deliberate manner and shared reading allows this to happen on a larger scale.
According to Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Diane Lapp (2008), “shared readings have potential with older readers and should not be limited to use with emergent readers” (pg. 548). Shared reading with older readers involves four components: comprehension, vocabulary, text structure, and text feature. When focusing on vocabulary, teachers should encourage students to develop both “inside” and “outside” word strategies. Going outside the word involves using context clues to understand the definition of an unfamiliar word while going inside the word means focusing on word parts, such as prefixes, suffixes, roots, bases, word families, or cognates, of unfamiliar words. Teachers should encourage students to use both word strategies because this increases the likelihood that students will develop an understanding of unfamiliar words by themselves. As students gain experience looking at informational texts, teachers can draw their attention to the different headings, captions, illustrations, graphs, diagrams, and glossaries that help readers locate useful information. Equally as important, teachers need to direct student’s attention to common text structures (e.g., the setting, plot, characters, conflict, main events, and resolution of a narrative text). Just as with read alouds, “teacher modeling through shared reading should be based on an identified purpose” (Fisher, Frey & Lapp, 2008, pg. 555). Shared readings allow students to develop reading strategies to use during independent reading, focusing their attention to individual words, sentences, and the overall text.
I posted a video below that shows a teacher using cloze to help her students consider the identity of the covered-up word in the context of the story. Enjoy!