Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Best Discussions Start with Books

You think you have it planned right?  You’ve picked out the perfect book.  It relates to a science topic you are studying.  You pre-read the book and planned out questions.  The students are using their Read Aloud Journals to track their knowledge.  You read in a steady, fluent voice, stopping to “think aloud” as a model for students.  Everything’s going right and according to plan.  Then the hand goes up and the question comes and BAM your whole plan for the lesson spits out the door.  Has this every happened to you? 

Discussions based on books read to the class increase comprehension and student background knowledge.  Raki's Rad Resources

My class this year decided that Read Aloud was the time to ask the most off the wall questions – all with valid connections to the book or to another question asked about the book, but still things I never expected.  Here are just three examples:

1.)  We were reading about how desert people use camels to help them and got into a discussion about mammals and the mammary glad that makes milk – and where it is located in humans.  Started from the question “How do they get milk from camels? I thought only cows made milk.”

2.) We were reading a National Geographic article about an explorer’s trek across the desert and got into a discussion about visas and passports and why on some countries’ passports you can travel almost anywhere without a visa while on other countries’ passports you need lots of visas.  Started from the question “Why would they need a visa to cross into Libya?”

3.) We were reading Captain Underpants and got into a discussion about working for money vs. being handed money that spiraled into a political discussion about socialism vs. capitalism.  Started from the question “Why didn’t they just ask their mom for the $4.00?”


After a year of these type of discussions, I have found that I enjoy read aloud more than ever before because of these discussions.  I never know what connections the kids will make, but at least I know that they are connecting to whatever they are reading (or being read) and that their comprehension is benefiting from these connections.

What is the best unexpected discussion your class has ever had based on a read aloud?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources