Updated: Aug 24, 2020
Shared reading is a favorite strategy in classrooms and communities across the globe. It features in every country, culture, religion and education system and is an essential component of learning to read and understand text. It is the strategy that helps learners see themselves as readers!
In shared reading, the teacher frequently uses an enlarged text such as a Big Book, eBook or chart. This enlarged text is used so that students can see the text and illustrations clearly and join in the reading when they are ready. The text selected often has rich language and ideas, familiar themes, detailed illustrations, rhyming words and repeated text to build high frequency words and fluency. These texts are designed to support the learner to successfully read along with the teacher as they join in or share the reading of a book.
Teachers will explain how the text works, modeling strategies for decoding words and ideas, discussing what words mean and using a range of problem-solving strategies. The first few readings focus on comprehension and the big ideas within the text. The teacher will pause frequently to ask students for predictions, focusing on the behavior, skill or strategy modeled. Students will be active in reading with the teacher, talking to a partner about the text, re-reading key passages and reading the text multiple times across the week.
In shared reading, the learners are active constructors of meaning rather than passive listeners. The teacher is in control of the reading by describing strategies to understand the ideas in the text to construct meaning. The learners will actively use comprehension strategies such as predicting, inferring, summarizing and generating questions. Educators have a range of techniques such as Turn and Talk, Buddy Talk and Quickdraws to actively engage the learners to read, talk and think about the text and what it means – during and after reading.
In shared reading, the teacher explicitly models the behaviors of proficient readers, including reading with fluency and expression The teacher shows the learner how ideas can be recorded, talked about and enjoyed. Typically the text used is above the reading level of the learners. The teacher, as the reader, demonstrates and models the text with fluency and passion. The teacher’s role is to make the words on the page get up and dance! This supports learners to be meaning-makers rather than word-readers! Students then join in with the teacher as a shared experience using expression and fluency. The teacher models inferred meaning by using the 7 rules of fluency with their actions and voice (high-low, fast-slow, loud-soft and pause).
Learners then apply the concepts learned during shared reading to more independent reading. They stop during reading and discuss what they are reading, what the text means, how they processed words and ideas and their own thoughts and ideas about the text. Educators provide the support needed for learners to learn how to read on their own.
But perhaps the most important impact of shared reading is the high levels of engagement with the text from both the teacher and the learner! Learners see themselves as successful readers and meaning makers by joining in as the text becomes familiar and their reading develops with the teacher.