Shared Reading is for Upper Primary, too.
Often when people think of shared reading, they think of a teacher in the junior school sharing a big book with a class of 5-7-year-olds. However, I am here to tell you today that Shared Reading is for Upper Primary, too. I’ll give you a quick rundown of what shared reading is, why it is important, and how you could use it in your upper primary classroom.
What is Shared Reading?
In my earlier blog post, “How to Set up a Reading Programme” I explained that shared reading is an important part of a balanced reading programme (the four elements of reading to, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading).
Shared reading is an instructional approach where the teacher explicitly models the strategies and skills of capable readers.
Brenda Parkes, author of Read it Again! Revisiting Shared Reading explains that the main purpose of shared reading is to introduce children to a variety of authors and text types to encourage them to become a reader. She goes on to say that an equally important purpose of shared reading is to teach children the reading process and explicitly model to children how they can be readers and writers themselves.
When taking part in shared reading, the teacher and students discuss as they go, and read along, or read certain parts individually. As Literacy Online explains. the teacher “will question, prompt, model, tell, explain, direct, and/or give feedback to the students.”
Why should I do Shared Reading in my Upper Primary Classroom?
While most upper primary students will have a general understanding of how to read a simple text, there are so many reading, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, sentence structure, and writing skills that can be explored, modelled and analysed during shared reading. Shared reading also gives students who are reading at a lower level the chance to be exposed to higher-level texts – it is the great equaliser.
Benefits of Shared Reading
- Builds a sense of community through a shared and collaborative experience.
- Provides the opportunity to explore more challenging or rich texts.
- Allows the teacher to model the behaviour of a fluent, accurate reader.
- Helps students learn to process and understand new kinds of texts that they need to master, for example, a science experiment list of instructions, a social studies website, or a mathematics problem.
- Gives the teacher an opportunity to explicitly model reading strategies e.g. using context clues, using prior knowledge.
- Exposes students to a wider and more complex range of vocabulary than they would be able to read independently.
- Helps novice readers learn about the relationship between oral language and printed language.
- Assists students in making connections between background knowledge and new information.
- Helps in teaching frequently used vocabulary.
- Encourages prediction in reading.
- Builds fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
- Provides exposure to ideas and concepts that may be outside students’ direct experiences.
- Gives students the opportunity to apply comprehension strategies to both fiction and non-fiction texts.
What you could focus on during Shared Reading
As I explained earlier, during shared reading the teacher can focus on a variety of literacy skills. I have provided just a few examples below. This is in no way an exhaustive list!
- Various reading strategies.
- What to do when you come to a word you don’t know.
- The use of figurative language in a story or poem.
- Different sentence structures e.g. simple, compound, and complex.
- Reading comprehension strategies, such as inferring, summarising, using prior knowledge.
- The use and role of paragraphs.
- Text features and their uses e.g. a graph, photo, map, table.
- The different text structures and genres.
- How an author has used quotation marks for direct speech.
- The way an author has developed a character.
- Spelling patterns and spelling rules.
The nuts and bolts of shared reading
Most experts suggest that a shared reading session should last for no longer than 20 minutes.
A shared reading session could involve the whole class or a small group of students.
The same text can be shared once, twice, or several times, depending on the reading goal and your students’ needs.
Shared reading could be followed by some form of follow-up activity. However, it is also perfectly fine for the shared reading session to be a stand-alone activity.
Shared reading texts are not limited to big books from your resource room. Any text that you can display for your students to see could be used e.g. a non-fiction article, a recipe, a fictional story, a website, or an instruction manual. I would often display texts on my classroom projector, and other options include using a class TV or photocopying enlarged sections of a text and sticking these to your whiteboard.
Our shared reading texts with follow-up activities
We have a range of reading comprehension texts with follow up activities that would work in a shared reading setting.
Our Reading Comprehension Passages and Questions are intentionally made to be read and re-read. They feature a range of fiction and non-fiction text features and would suit shared reading, especially introducing new concepts and vocabulary. This discounted bundle includes ten topic areas: Sports Stars, Kiwiana, Video Games, Natural Disasters, Myths and Legends From Around The World (Volume One and Two), Māori Myths and Legends (Volume One and Two), Ancient Egypt and Under the Sea.
Another useful reading blog post
Everybody likes a freebie
A collaborative reading activity, sure to engage your sports-mad students. Using the information sheet and their own independent research (QR codes and additional web links are included), students present their learning about Richie McCaw. Use as an A4 poster or use the large poster pieces that make an A2 poster… and yes, it’s FREE. Click here to download this free resource today.
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