I copied the example from my professor and sought out the same book for a read aloud. When I found Mice and Beans by Pam Muñoz Ryan in my library, I could tell by it’s Accelerated Reader level, 3.6, that I would need to read to a struggling 3rd-grade readers or lower, since read alouds should be at the high end of a child’s ZPD.
First I practiced on my own kids. My 4th grader put down his chapter book to listen intently. My 6th grader scrolled her phone and listened with half an ear. Afterward she said she disliked the repetition. However, this was already more engagement than I’d hoped for, so I knew any age would probably love it.
As I don’t have my own Reading class, I set out to “borrow” a few students. My first stop was a third-grade class. My colleague was happy to let me borrow three of my favorites who had already finished their Reading assignment.
All three students are bilingual, which was really fun for this read aloud (it contains a sprinkling of Spanish), but all three students informed me that at a level of 3.6, the book was below their level. I had them make predictions based on the front and back cover, and taught them the motions for the line that repeats through the story, “And when it was set and ready to snap, she turned off the light, and went to bed.” As I read through the story, my group was extremely engaged and charmed by the situations in the story that were relatable to their own lives.
They laughed about the silly mice doing the same thing as the people and tried to guess what would be the next problem in the story. At the end of the story, they confirmed their predictions that the mice would have a party and acknowledged that no, the mice weren’t exactly part of the family. The three asked if I could come and read to them again sometime.
My next stop was the classroom I was really hoping to do this lesson with, my first-grade dual language class. These students are so lovely and willing to take risks with both English and Spanish! I can relate to their struggle if only in the opposite way! These students were definitely confused as to why I (the Art teacher) would want to read to them, but they were happy nonetheless. I explained that I was going to read one of my favorite stories to them (it’s true!).
We started off in much the same manner, making predictions about the text and learning the motions to increase engagement. I also had them clap their hands like a mousetrap each time they heard the word. These students were great about making predictions as the pictures gave them tiny clues about what would happen next. The students were able to make connections to their own experiences, especially during the piñata scene! We did a lot of conversing in Spanish about the book, and I believe that is fine because their early exit dual language model is set up 90% Spanish/ 10% English. With every sentence we used in Spanish, I made sure they also heard the same idea in English. We got a little carried away talking about the mad dash for piñata candy and sang the song, “Dale, dale dale!” At the end of the story we confirmed the prediction that the mice would have candy and they also noted that there were about as many mice at the party as there were people. They were still confused about why I had come to read to them, but happy to hear a story. I just reiterated that I wanted them to hear a story I love and practice good reading skills.