Shared Reading in the Structured Literacy Era

  • shared reading reading to children
  • 12 November, 2022

Teacher question:

Can you provide clarification on how to promote shared reading in the structured literacy era and how that differs from shared reading in the balanced literacy era. I would think a teacher could certainly initially read the text aloud to students to model fluency and expression, but then must ensure students can get the words off the page and reread by decoding the words, rather than parroting the teacher or memorizing the shared reading text that may be a rhyme/song that is catchy.

Shanahan response:

There are many reasons to read to children. Most of them are pretty sensible.

Some are more problematic.

One that should be avoided is what you describe – reading a text aloud so kids can mimic the teacher. That’s not a particularly effective way of teaching reading so I’d leave that out of my lesson plans.

Teach kids how to read the words themselves rather than subjecting them to this weird listen-remember-pretend-to-read sequence.

I would love to have the proverbial nickel for every time a parent has asked if their kids should be able to read anything that their teacher has not already read to them.

Children need to learn how to read more independently than that. Even a semester or two of such empty practice is woefully inefficient and will often be unsuccessful.

Sadly, a variation on this failed practice often appears in the upper grades, too. Many teachers read texts aloud (or play recordings of a text) so student reading won’t “interfere” with their comprehension. The kids are exposed to some literature and practice answering questions, without all that messy reading getting in the way. That students need to learn literature through reading—rather than going around it—seems not to have occurred to these teachers.

I’d rule out such practices.

Despite how strenuously some educators recommend reading to kids, there is still no research showing that it leads to higher reading achievement. That’s why my friend, Chris Lonigan refers to it as the “chicken soup of reading.” You know, it couldn’t hurt.

Children who experience a lot of book sharing at home do better in school than those who don’t, but those kids are also raised by parents with the greatest amounts of education, are more advantaged economically, and are most likely to receive direct reading instruction at home, too (Silinskas, Lerkkanen, Tolvanen, Niemi, Poikkeus, & Nurmi, 2012; Silinskas, Sénéchal, Torppa, & Lerkkanen, 2020). It may not be the shared reading that provides the learning payoff.

That doesn’t mean there is no value to reading to kids, but it shouldn’t be the panacea turned to whenever there is a reading problem, nor should it be the devil blamed for all those problems (“How can we teach this child to read, his parents don’t read to him?”)

RELATED: Comprehension Instruction That Really Helps – Teaching Cohesion

What makes sense with shared reading?

1.     Reading to primary grade kids can be part of an effective effort for increasing vocabulary knowledge. Reading to the students exposes them to academic vocabulary that may go beyond what they are likely to hear in daily conversation or in the media. Supplementing this exposure with direct instruction and supportive teacher-student interactions increases the chances of this vocabulary sticking. Dialogic reading in which the reader asks questions about the text and gets kids talking about the ideas is effective (Barone, Chambuleyron, Vonnak, & Assirelli, 2019; Pillinger & Wood, 2014; Whitehurst, 2002) as are techniques like “Text Talk” in which you focus attention on selected words from the texts (Beck & McKeown, 2001). In Text Talk the teacher reads the story, explains a word when it appears, then after reading reintroduces the word recontextualized in the story, has the students say the word, explains meaning more generally and provides other examples, has the children provide their own examples, and they repeat the word again. These words then are reviewed throughout the school year.

This kind of thing makes sense given what research has to say about the impact of shared reading. The National Early Literacy Panel (2008) reviewed 19 published studies that evaluated its effects on the learning of preschoolers. The preschoolers who were read to saw gains in their vocabulary knowledge and more recent studies have found this as well (Towson, Akemoglu, Watkins, & Zeng, 2021). Other studies have found the same thing with kindergartners and first graders (Neuman & Kaefer, 2018).

For the most part studies have found that reading aloud to kids increases their vocabulary, which is a good thing, and it works even better with supplemental teaching (Requa, Chen, Irey, & Cunningham, 2021). We hope that knowledge transfers to reading and is sufficient to make kids better readers, but that hope is not yet buttressed with empirical evidence.

2.     There is a small amount of evidence indicating that reading to children can increase their understanding of how print works (e.g., where to begin reading on a page, directionality, what to do at the end of a line). Experience tells me that such skills are easily developed in preschool, kindergarten, and at the beginning of grade 1, and that most kids can develop those skills through observation.

The National Early Literacy Panel (2008) found four studies in which students who were read to showed greater understanding of print concepts.

With parents, facilitating such observation takes little more than seating the child so he/she can see the print and drawing attention to print by pointing at words and tracking. With my own daughters, when they’d put their young hands on the print I would stop reading when I couldn’t see the words. That fascinated them because it revealed that I wasn’t reading the pictures but was focused on the rows of letters.

Newer research has focused on how children’s attention can be effectively focused on print during shared reading (Piasta, Justice, McGinty, & Kaderavek, 2012).

For teachers, when working with kids who haven’t yet figured out those print basics, big books and projections of books are quite useful. In those cases, the teacher does the same thing I described for parents… drawing attention to how one moves through a text, what happens at the end of a page, and so on. Again, kids don’t usually need much of this kind of guidance.

3.     You mention “modeling” for fluency work.

There’s a bit of evidence on this, but not enough to insist on that as a potent feature of fluency teaching. Such instruction seems to work equally well with modeling and without it (Young, Bowers, & MacKinnon, 1996).

I think modeling has a place, but it is of limited value in terms of fostering learning and, therefore, its use shouldn’t take up much real estate.

I often visit classrooms in which teachers devote inordinate amounts of time to reading aloud to kids under the guise of “modeling.” At least that’s how it is labeled in the lesson plans. As if listening to the reading of a proficient adult transfers to fluent student reading.  

The benefits of modeling appear to be more specific and immediate. When I teach fluency, I ask kids to try reading the text first try first. If they do a reasonably good job of it – even if I think they need some word work or to read the text again, I probably won’t do any modeling at all. However, in cases where the reading doesn’t sound right – you know, especially choppy, word-by word or with odd pauses that disrupt the prosody – I will step in and demonstrate how to read that phrase or sentence.

That surprises some teachers, but human memory is limited. Reading an entire paragraph or page doesn’t provide much prosody guidance because no one – even adults – can remember all that information long enough to apply it when it is their turn to do the reading. Keep modeling focused and specific. Techniques like “reading-while-listening” can work too; in those the teacher and students read the text chorally.

One more thing about fluency. Studies of kids in grades 1-3 have found that parents reading to their children has no impact on the kids’ reading achievement, but children reading to their parents does (Sénéchal & Young, 2008); that’s why it is so important to shift from reading to kids to getting them to do the reading.

4.     Another possible use of shared reading is in the teaching of comprehension strategies to children who have yet to learn to read or as the initial way on introducing these comprehension-producing actions at any age. Teacher read alouds can be a good way of allowing kids to develop listening comprehension strategies that can later be applied to their reading (e.g., Roberts, 2013; Williams, Hall, Lauer, Stafford, DeSisto, & deCani, 2005). Success with listening strategies may not transfer directly to reading, but the ability to implement these during listening should be more easily taught on the reading side of the house. Essentially, the listening efforts are to provide a leg up on the later reading efforts.

In this kind of teaching, the teacher does the reading for the students – but remember, this replacement is brief, just until the kids can either do the reading themselves or once they have accomplished some proficiency with the strategy. Then the kids need to take over the reading duties themselves.

5.     Most of the evidence on reading to kids focuses on vocabulary learning. But recent research has shown that kids can gain other information from being read to, and these benefits have been found in Kindergarten and Grade 1 (Gibbs, & Reed, 2021; Neuman & Kaefer, 2018; Neuman, Samudra, & Danielson, 2021) – though I suspect they would be just as true for adults or for watching content rich videos. If you want young children to know more about science, social studies, literature, or the arts, reading texts to them about those topics can be helpful.

This kind of thing would not be expected to have much impact on reading ability itself, except for how well students might be able to read about the specific topics the shared reading focused on.

Reading some texts to the kids in the contexts of content classes makes some sense. However, as kids progress through the grades – certainly by grade two – reading instruction should be focused on making sure the students are able to learn about those topics independently, through their own reading.

6.     Finally, reading books aloud to kids can be a great way to establish a warm tone or positive environment in a classroom. Personally, I’d do some of that kind of reading everyday with young kids (to age 8 or grade 3). Such reading may or may not directly support the curriculum and the vocabulary or informational learning from it may go unmonitored.

However, given that this kind of “pure joy” book sharing has no specific instructional goals, it should not be considered part of reading instruction. Don’t reduce the amount of reading instruction to accommodate this activity, though, again, I’d find a place for it.

Reading to children is not a particularly effective way of teaching reading. However, there are several ways that shared reading can be used as a mechanism to accomplish some specific goals in the primary grades. It can both be an extracurricular activity aimed at warming up a classroom or it may be a tool aimed at teaching or familiarizing students with some very specific aspects of reading ability. What it should not be is the way students learn to read a particular text, nor should it replace instruction in which students would usually be expected to do the reading.  

READ MORE ARTICLE HERE: Shanahan On Literacy's Blogs


Barone, C., Chambuleyron, E., Vonnak, R., & Assirelli, G. (2019). Home-based shared book reading interventions and children’s language skills: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Educational Research and Evaluation, 25(5-6), 270-298. doi:

Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G. (2001). Text Talk: Capturing the benefits of read-aloud experiences for young children. Reading Teacher, 55(1), 10-20.

Gibbs, A. S., & Reed, D. K. (2021). Shared reading and science vocabulary for kindergarten students. Early Childhood Education Journal. doi:

Kurasawa, E. (1962). Reading instruction in Japan. Reading Teacher, 16(1), 13-17.

National Early Literacy Panel. (2008). Developing early literacy. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.

Neuman, S. B., & Kaefer, T. (2018). Developing low-income children’s vocabulary and content knowledge through a shared book reading program. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 52, 15-24. doi:

Neuman, S. B., Samudra, P., & Danielson, K. (2021). Effectiveness of scaling up a vocabulary intervention for low-income children, pre-K through first grade. Elementary School Journal, 121(3), 385-409. doi:

Piasta, S. B., Justice, L. M., McGinty, A. S., & Kaderavek, J. N. (2012). Increasing young children’s contact with print during shared reading: Longitudinal effects on literacy achievement. Child Development, 83(3), 810-820. doi:

Pillinger, C., & Wood, C. (2014). Pilot study evaluating the impact of dialogic reading and shared reading at transition to primary school: Early literacy skills and parental attitudes. Literacy, 48(3), 155-163. doi:

Requa, M. K., Chen, Y. I., Irey, R., & Cunningham, A. E. (2021). Teaching parents of at-risk preschoolers to employ elaborated and non-elaborated vocabulary instruction during shared storybook reading. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. 


Roberts, K. L. (2013). Comprehension strategy instruction during parent–child shared reading: An intervention study. Literacy Research and Instruction, 52(2), 106-129. doi:

Sénéchal, M., & Young, L. (2008). The effect of family literacy interventions on children’s acquisition of reading from kindergarten to grade 3: A meta-analytic review. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 880-907. doi:

Silinskas, G., Lerkkanen, M., Tolvanen, A., Niemi, P., Poikkeus, A., & Nurmi, J. (2012). The frequency of parents’ reading-related activities at home and children’s reading skills during kindergarten and grade 1. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 33(6), 302-310. doi:

Silinskas, G., Sénéchal, M., Torppa, M., & Lerkkanen, M. (2020). Home literacy activities and children’s reading skills, independent reading, and interest in literacy activities from kindergarten to grade 2. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 15. doi:

Towson, J. A., Akemoglu, Y., Watkins, L., & Zeng, S. (2021). Shared interactive book reading interventions for young children with disabilities: A systematic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 30(6), 2700-2715.

Whitehurst, R. G. (2002). Dialogic reading: An effective way to read aloud with young children. Reading Rockets:

Williams, J. P., Hall, K. M., Lauer, K. D., Stafford, K. B., DeSisto, L. A., & deCani, J. S. (2005). Expository text comprehension in the primary grade classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(4), 538-550. doi:

Young, A. R., Bowers, P. G., & MacKinnon, G. E. (1996). Effects of prosodic modeling and repeated reading on poor readers' fluency and comprehension. Applied Psycholinguistics, 17(1), 59-84. doi:


See what others have to say about this topic.

Joanne Hamann Nov 12, 2022 05:58 PM

So there are many teachers out there teaching 3rd-5th grade, for example, using a mandated core program with texts that far exceed their students' ability to decode. Other than choral reading of the text, what else do you recommend for the teacher and the students in terms of "getting through the text." I so appreciate your blog and learn so much from it.

Sarah Nov 12, 2022 06:02 PM

I’d love to hear Sharon Walpole’s take on this post. I know shared reading is an important part of her Bookworms program. I also know she knows her stuff. I’d love to hear her take on how the shared reading portion of her program is, indeed, very effective.

Timothy Shanahan Nov 12, 2022 06:48 PM

If the students cannot decode at about a second grade level or higher, they definitely should be shifted to an easier set of texts and they should be receiving explicit teaching in decoding. However, if they can read at a second grade level or higher then engaging students in fluency work with those texts, providing some of the language supports that I have written about extensively here (vocabulary, syntax, cohesion, text structure), engaging students in the use of comprehension strategies, and so on are the way to go.

Harriett Janetos Nov 12, 2022 07:31 PM

" However, if they can read at a second grade level or higher then engaging students in fluency work with those texts, providing some of the language supports that I have written about extensively here (vocabulary, syntax, cohesion, text structure), engaging students in the use of comprehension strategies, and so on are the way to go."

I would add to this some version of 'partner reading' and 'paragraph shrinking' as explained in Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS). I have been using modified forms of these strategies with 3rd and 4th graders, and they hold great promise for helping mixed-ability learners. One modification: instead of one partner telling the other partner what a missed word is, I have the students prompt their partners to read the word again so that they are given an opportunity to sound it out by syllable.

Marie Nov 12, 2022 09:32 PM

Thank you for always writing about such relevant subjects! Your blog is always very thought provoking and informative!

I am a little confused about this latest blog entry as I was under the impression that echo reading, choral reading, repeated readings, etc. of passages were supportive ways to increase fluency in first grade. This does not take the place of decoding instruction in my classroom, but is one small aspect of fluency instruction along with partner reading. Can you please help clarify?

LP Nov 12, 2022 09:44 PM

So helpful and insightful, as always. I wonder if it’s also worth adding explicitly that some, if not most, most text that K-2 students can decode independently is not rich enough in content for students to be able to master grade level reading standards using them; shared reading gives early readers a chance to engage in deeper, richer text than they could read alone and thus the ability to access the full depth of the reading standards.

Matt Nov 12, 2022 10:33 PM

In regard to fluency, is FASE reading or 'control the game' a good strategy for grades 5 and up? It is from Doug Lemov's book Reading Reconsidered, which you endorse on this page. In this strategy, the teacher randomly picks students to read brief segments of the text. The randomness ensures students are following along.

Interested to hear your thoughts.

Matt Nov 12, 2022 10:33 PM

In regard to fluency, is FASE reading or 'control the game' a good strategy for grades 5 and up? It is from Doug Lemov's book Reading Reconsidered, which you endorse on this page. In this strategy, the teacher randomly picks students to read brief segments of the text. The randomness ensures students are following along.

Interested to hear your thoughts.

Diane Snowball Nov 12, 2022 10:33 PM

I’m surprised that the question was about Shared Reading but your answer was all about Read Aloud. So I think the question was misinterpreted. I’m sure you must have read books and articles by Don Holdaway, whose work with Shared Reading in New Zealand and Australia, starting in the late 1960’s was well researched. Shared Reading is when all eyes are on one enlarged text, with the teacher and children reading together. The children are taught all aspects of reading from concepts of print to decoding, comprehension strategies, fluency, and vocabulary. I could provide some articles about true Shared Reading if that would be helpful.

Timothy Shanahan Nov 12, 2022 11:13 PM

No, I am not mistaken. I had edited it down so I have a pretty good idea of what the questioner was asking. In any event, these days, in the U.S. at least, shared reading tends to be used for any adult reading to children, not just the choral reading that you refer to. I'm well aware of Don Holdaway's book but know of no sound research into its effectiveness.


Timothy Shanahan Nov 12, 2022 11:17 PM

No, I'm not a big fan of that procedure. That approach will keep kids paying attention just in case they are to be called on, but it isn't the best way to go either to teach fluency (which requires more concentrated and efficient practice) or reading comprehension (which at those grade levels should be focused more on silent reading).


Timothy Shanahan Nov 12, 2022 11:19 PM


That is a very reasonable point-- books the teacher shares with kids are more likely to build language (and content knowledge) than the books they will be able to easily decode themselves.



Timothy Shanahan Nov 12, 2022 11:23 PM


Those can be good ways to build oral reading fluency for the children (though the choral reading one probably isn't particularly productive). Techniques like listening-while-reading and echo reading do involve teachers reading to kids, but the kids are also reading simultaneously, so I wouldn't put it in the shared reading category (though you could I guess). The difference of course has to do with what the children's role is.


Marie Nov 13, 2022 01:54 AM

Thank you for the clarification, Tim. My shared reading involves a big book that I first read to the students while we discuss the content, then they go to their desks with their own copies and track the text with their fingers while we echo read, choral read (I'll take that part out from now on), partner read, and independently read. The students then respond to the text in writing. This activity sounds long, but we move quickly through the readings taking about 15 minutes total while the writing takes longer. Maybe I shouldn't think of this as shared reading then?

Carol McKinley Nov 13, 2022 02:04 PM

How so we support struggling readers with complex grade level text? How do we do this? We're told we must do this, but how? From podcasts & other sources, I have been hearing that we can provide audio books, do choral reading, echo reading, & partner reading. All of which you were not suggesting to do. I attended your October 15 webinar about leveling. I learned a lot, and appreciated all the research on why leveling is not effective. Unfortunately, you ran out of time for the second half in which you were going to give us some research based strategies for making complex text instructional or independent for struggling readers. I need this information! I do want to mention that I know if our students are reading below grade level, we must also provide instruction with whatever they are lacking - usually phonemic awareness and phonics, along with the whole class experience of reading and discussing complex grade level text. How???

Elizabeth Clemens Nov 13, 2022 04:48 PM

What has happened to Reading Specialists? Why are teachers not being better prepared to teach reading? Cognitive thinking, which is a reading skill. is even more needed during this age of technology, to provide students with the ability to CHOOSE. whether or not to join a group, select friends, follow rules and laws, cast a vote in an election. Why are universities producing ill-prepared teachers? Is this some intentional movement to water down our public education system? Hitler did this with German youth. Is someone or some group deliberately keeping our youth misinformed and undereducated? Or is the system, itself, responsible for promoting students sans reading skills to match those required for text comprehension? I am really concerned that your excellent advice has to be sought by those who care and wonder about the rest who seem not to. Thanks to you and those who write their opinions.

Harriett Janetos Nov 13, 2022 05:01 PM

Carol asks the million dollar question: How do we support struggling readers to help them access complex grade-level text? Here's how I did it with my third graders:

Timothy Shanahan Nov 13, 2022 05:16 PM


I think people honestly believe that the easier they make things for children the more the children will like it (and the more that they'll be liked for it, and the more the kids will like the activity that was so easy). When one looks at motivational research we can see how that is wrong both in terms of learning (confronting difficulty even if it only slows you down to focus better on what you are studying) and of motivation (the idea that people prefer everything to be easy doesn't match the facts) -- so they are wrong but there is a logic to their error. My hunch is folks with the goal of making children's path an easy one are often drawn to teaching -- and teacher education and school supervision does little to help them to see the error of their ways.


Timothy Shanahan Nov 13, 2022 05:20 PM


I gave several strategies during that presentation on how to bring prior knowledge into play, the appropriate approach to vocabulary, how to deal with complex sentences, and how to teach cohesion... so I wouldn't say that I ran out of time and didn't provide any specifics of how. I definitely could have spent time on text structure, fluency, parsing, comprehension strategies, motivation, use of multiple books on topic, etc. I would suggest that you look some of those terms up on this site and take a look at the publications section as well. I hope you've been trying many of the strategies that I shared with you.


Timothy Shanahan Nov 13, 2022 05:24 PM


If you are teaching decoding, I'm not sure I'm understanding why you are reading the texts to the students before they give it a try. I have no problem with the tracking exercises and echo reads, but again not getting the purpose of reading it to them first.


Matt Nov 14, 2022 02:17 AM

Thanks for your response, Tim. How would you suggest a teacher organize the act of reading and teacher in a G5 classroom? The good thing about Lemov's approach is that students are all up to the same point in the text meaning the teacher can then teach the cohesion or vocabulary point in the moment. I do agree with the pitfalls of the approach that you mention, though.

Do you suggest students read independently and then we, the teachers, bring the class back together to go over the features of complexity after reading?

Sharon Walpole Nov 14, 2022 01:19 PM

Sarah, thanks for the invite. I agree wholeheartedly with Tim that reading aloud to students is not reading instruction. Reading aloud CAN be many things, but only if it is planned -- I use it as a context for vocabulary instruction, grammar instruction, discussion, text-structure instruction, brief comprehension strategy modeling, and for modeling text-based on demand writing. (And it still builds a warm community, even with ALL of those other goals.)

Shared reading means different things to different people. Tim has mentioned many of them. Here's how I use the term. For young (Pk-K) children, it is a print-referencing and dialogic opportunity, and for those emergent readers, memorizing and finger-point reading a text can build concept of word. And I agree with Tim that print concepts can be built really quickly with explicit instruction.

Beginning in grade 1, it is scaffolded repeated reading to build both fluency and comprehension. For me, it is never a practice on its own. It is always complemented by grade-specific phonics and spelling instruction. There is no route to fluency (or literacy) without words.

It's possible to build literacy instruction to distribute opportunities across contexts -- to take advantage of the specific affordances of read alouds and of shared repeated reading without neglecting word recognition and writing. But it would be hard to do all of that AND have just-for-fun read alouds under the guise of modeling fluent reading. Maybe use while students are waiting or packing up?

And some of us have always lived in the structured literacy era.

Mary Jacobson Nov 14, 2022 03:31 PM

I'm appreciating the conversation around what we mean by "shared reading". Like so many things in education, we have tendencies to shape identified practices into something different than what it may have originally intended to be. My experience has been that when I say, "shared reading", some educators tend to think of it as students sharing books together (would partner reading be better here?) or that it is the teacher sharing a book with the students (which I might consider more read aloud or interactive reading). At the end of the day, it's probably more important for teachers to understand why they are using a particular kind of text than what we specifically call it. On the other hand, we also know that clarity and consistency matters, especially at a systems level. I will own that I have referenced "shared reading" as an opportunity for "I do, you help" types of learning. Additionally, especially in early literacy, demonstrating concepts of prints, book orientation, discerning letter, word, and sentence etc. are all ways that a shared reading (using an enlarged text that all students can see) can support differentiated whole group instruction. Additionally, it can also serve to transfer knowledge learned within a phonics lesson into an actual text. Appreciate the conversation!

Carol McKinley Nov 14, 2022 10:25 PM

Thanks for responding to my question, Tim. I did go back and listen to your 10/15 webinar again, and, yes, you did indeed talk extensively about scaffolding prior knowledge, vocabulary, complex sentences and cohesion. I apologize. This afternoon I also participated in a webinar with Linda Farrell, Michael Hunter and Tim Odegard in which they described how to assess, pinpoint instruction and bridge gaps for struggling readers. (This webinar was part of my training to be a facilitator for Ohio's Dyslexia Course grades K-3.) One of their case studies was a 5th grade student reading at the 1st grade level. I asked how they would scaffold that student for Tier 1 text. All 3 said they would make accommodations like audio books and reading to the student. It seems like your recommendations would be more appropriate for students reading at or near grade level, not for students way behind. Those are the students I'm trying to figure out how to help read complex grade level text. Thank you again for all you do for teachers and students.

Timothy Shanahan Nov 15, 2022 11:06 PM

As I indicated in my presentation, research was not suggesting increasing text difficulty for beginning readers (K-1). However, by the time students can decode well enough to read like a beginning second grader, it is quite reasonable to do so. The amount of difference isn't the issue, whether or not students have developed beginning decoding skills is. There is no question that if you want to share information with a student who cannot read, reading a text to him/her or letting him/her listen to an audio book will get the job done. However, those are lousy ways to go if you are trying to teach the student to read. Accommodations are about what one can do to get around a disability... but accommodations do not teach reading. My presentation was about teaching kids to read.


Karen Winford Nov 16, 2022 01:06 PM

You mentioned that a teacher might use read alouds to teach some listening strategies. I'm sorry that I haven't taught listening strategies before. What are some listening strategies that should teach my 2nd graders, and where can I find more information on how to teach them?
Thank you for your blog posts; they are helpful and thought-provoking to me.

Lisa Dec 01, 2022 04:06 AM

I’m new to the game of High School and ENL’s.
Would you use these same strategies for them as well? I just walked into a class and stopped my ENL teacher from continuing to echo read with our students. The students where not engaged. They were either ahead of her, not repeating at all, or just complying to what was going on.
She stated that she was using “Shared Reading” and that day 1 is reading the text to students to show fluency and also talk about the text. Im afraid of what day 2-5 look like in her class.

I would love to read your thoughts.

Timothy Shanahan Dec 01, 2022 08:40 AM

Lisa-- There is very little research on teaching fluency to second language learners. Typically with English speakers direct instruction in fluency does not begin until the students are able to decode at a reasonable level. In this case, I don't know how far along the students are with reading English. If those students could decode in English, then fluency work is one of several areas that deserve some time (comprehension, vocabulary, writing would be others). But even in that case, echo reading would not be my preferred approach to working with fluency (too many kids can get lost in the choral reading as you describe). My workhorse approach under such circumstances is paired reading with the teacher circulating among the groups to monitor success, to add instruction, and to guide the partners so that everyone is making some progress.


Daisy Jul 19, 2023 08:27 AM

Read alouds are absolutely important to children, especially young children because it is building their oral language, which helps with comprehension and comprehension is part of reading. That is part of the science of reading.

Candace Nov 24, 2023 01:36 AM

My district is moving from balanced literacy to using best practices for literacy instruction based on the science of reading. We have been instructed to continue using “big books” and poetry to use during shared reading. I have often thought this type of “reading” doesn’t exactly help students to learn to read words. I do have the understanding that engaging with poetry and song can expose children to early literacy concepts such as rhyming. Would there be a time and place to use poetry and song as a means to reinforce or teach early literacy skills during the time “shared reading” would be taking place?

Timothy Shanahan Nov 24, 2023 03:16 PM


You are correct that shared reading does little to help students to learn to read words. Of course, reading texts aloud to young children can help increase their oral vocabularies and that can be helpful with comprehension (though the kinds of books used for the kind of books that you are encouraged to use are unlikely to have much impact in that arena).


Jennifer Nov 29, 2023 02:51 PM

What do you see is the difference between shared reading and a read aloud used for instruction (not just for enjoyment)? We are asked to do shared reading and a read aloud within our ELA curriculum. However, this curriculum is very much based in balanced literacy and I’m trying to understand the difference between the 2 from what the science tells us about language comprehension.

Timothy E Shanahan Nov 29, 2023 09:38 PM

I suspect that what your district means by shared reading is "big book" work -- reading text to the children when they can see things like what words you are pointing to, the direction you move through a text, etc. with a certain amount of interaction ("who can find the word, "doggy"). Basically, they want you to read to the kids to help them to decode or to read the words in text. Reading to kids can have a small impact on that, but explicit decoding instruction would be better. Reading to students to build their language and knowledge makes much more sense and that is where that time should be spent.


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Shared Reading in the Structured Literacy Era


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