Whole-class Reading Instruction: What Does It Look Like to Support All Readers?

By Stacey Abeyta | Categories: Reading

There are many essential parts to literacy instruction in kindergarten and grade 1 classrooms. In the Early Literacy Essentials webinar series, our session focused on the aspects of whole-group instruction that support the emerging reader through the use of shared reading experiences and comprehension strategy read-aloud lessons.

Our guiding question was:
What does it look like to support all readers in kindergarten and first grade?

Shared Reading

Don Holdaway brought to our attention the importance of having enjoyable reading experiences within the classroom setting. During Shared Reading lessons, students gather as a classroom community in a safe environment to begin developing their reading identities. The key instructional pieces within these lessons include developing phonemic awareness, making letter-sound correlations, practicing fluency and rhyming, developing one-to-one correspondence, getting a sense of directionality, and even learning high-frequency words. Students have opportunities to listen, read, and talk as they are actively engaged in meaningful work around a big book, song, or poem that is large enough for everyone to see at the same time.

This interaction with and “sharing of” print distinguishes Shared Reading from typical read-alouds. As the class returns to beloved books and poems over many readings, and as you involve the students in an enjoyable and purposeful way, the students’ interest in reading and their sense of identity as readers increase. As the year progresses, a body of familiar texts is produced that the students can approach with confidence as a class, in pairs, or on their own. 

—Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual, Grade 1

Comprehension Strategy Read-aloud Lessons

During comprehension strategy read-aloud lessons, readers negotiate the meaning of a text to help them understand it more deeply. They engage with a strategy for a prolonged period of time to deepen their thinking about a text. Through the gradual release model, students work with a strategy through guided practice with the support of the teacher, and then continue to develop their skills all the way through to the application of the strategies in their independent reading.

Comprehension strategies are introduced, practiced, and reviewed on a developmental continuum, beginning with making connections and visualizing and progressing to the more cognitively challenging strategies of making inferences, wondering, using text features, and determining important ideas. A week of lessons typically begins with a read-aloud of an engaging text, followed by a class discussion of what the text is about. This same read-aloud text is used on subsequent days to teach the students a comprehension strategy and to give them guided practice with the strategy. In addition to the lessons, the students participate in Individualized Daily Reading (IDR), during which they read texts at their appropriate reading levels independently.

—Making Meaning Teacher’s Manual, Grade 1

To learn more about supporting all readers in kindergarten and grade 1, watch our “Whole Class Reading Instruction” webinar, or watch the entire Early Literacy Essentials webinar series here.

Co-authored by Stacey Abeyta and Kristi Bacus