Shared Reading in the Balanced Literacy Classroom

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • May 7, 2017, 3:46 p.m.

Shared reading is a dynamic practicing strategy for all students learning how to understand the meanings of texts. Using short texts that can be read in five to ten minute practice sessions, teachers can read with students to scaffold practice in thinking within, beyond, and about a text.

This guided practice technique helps readers understand and apply good reader thinking and fluent, meaning-making reading. The teacher's role is to model and closely monitor student thinking and oral reading. Teachers should gradually release the thinking to students as they practice the mental processes for efficient reading. Texts should be read several times for specific purposes.

The schedule of purposeful shared reading might look like this:

Day 1: Predict and read for the gist. The focus this day is thinking beyond a text by making predictions using the title and illustrations and confirming or identifying misconceptions as they read. Students will also practice thinking within the text by summarizing important parts of the text during and after reading.


Day 2: Retell and read to make inferences using text evidence. The focus this day is thinking beyond the text by drawing conclusions and providing text support.


Day 3: Reread and discuss using context to figure out word meaning. The focus this day is thinking about a text by using context clues to figure out word meaning.


Day 4 : Reread and notice author's craft such as figurative language, text structure, and point of view. The focus this day is thinking about a text by critiquing and analyzing the intentions of the author.


Day 5 and beyond: Use the text as a mentor text for writing. The focus this day is thinking about a text structure and other elements of author's craft. Students need opportunities to approximate the author's use of specific elements of craft. I call this creating an innovation of the text.


After several shared readings, tell students they can create something new with the text. Change up the words of the text to create a new version or parody. For example, in Mem Fox's book Zoo Looking, you can change from looking at the zoo to looking in a park. The text structure stays the same, but the ideas change. Authors "borrow" other author's text structure all the time. In the text, Manana Iguana, Anne Whitford Paul, innovated the Little Red Hen.


This is a great step to help students recognize and used text structures and to see that reading and writing processes are always tied together.


Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

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Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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