Dialogic Reading

Interactive Reading, Pretend Reading

UDL 5.3

Dialogic Reading is an early-literacy strategy in which students "read" their favorite books to classmates, emulating a teacher-led read aloud in order deepen comprehension, concepts of print and verbal expression. The teacher and a small group of students sit in a circle with a favorite book. Each student takes a turn acting as the teacher to the small group while the teacher takes on the role of student. During the read aloud, students "read" the book while the teacher is able to look for evidence of pre-determined focus skills (e.g. retelling, book directionality, sequencing). By actively engaging students in the read aloud process as storytellers, this strategy is effective in boosting pre-emergent readers’ comprehension and verbal expression.

Implementation Tips

Selecting Texts
Before Dialogic Reading, choose a range of familiar and unfamiliar texts with illustrations only or minimal text. Text can be distracting as students may concentrate on the words, rather than “reading” and comprehension through illustrations. Check out [[|this list]] of wordless books.
Focusing Teacher Observation
Develop rubrics and/or anecdotal notes aligned to specific academic or behavioral focus skills. It is easy to get off-track and distracted from the observing a specific objective. Target early book behaviors rather than decoding or other concepts of print (e.g. one-to-one correspondence).
Modeling Behaviors
During Dialogic Reading, model ideal read aloud behaviors. As this strategy is highly enjoyable and often humorous for the students and teacher, some students may have trouble focusing. Use prompts to guide students who require support with expression while “teaching.”
Student Perspectives
Take advantage of the unique opportunity to observe teaching and learning from the student’s point of view. Look for emulating behaviors such as the student utilizing classroom management techniques (e.g. does the student respond like their teacher when peers are talkative?).
Summarizing the Experience
Following Dialogic Reading, have a group discussion with students about the experience. Review photographs or video recordings documenting the read aloud. Discussing student “teaching” deepens comprehension of the activity and encourages engagement.
Helping Students Get Started
Before beginning, encourage students to select their book and support them in starting their “class” (e.g. What book are you going to read us?). This gives the students a sense of control over the activity and can be effective with extremely shy students.
Starting Slow
Start slow and ease students into Dialogic Reading, particularly if students are newcomers to a classroom environment. Utilize extensive modeling to boost the overall effectiveness of Dialogic Reading. Incorporate the strategy into a literacy center for more practice.


Teaching a Small Group
As the class is transitioning into literacy centers, the teacher sits with a small group of students. The teacher says, “Today we are going to practice Dialogic Reading again. We are going to read one of our favorite wordless books, [[|Good Night, Gorilla.]] Our friend, Max, will be teaching our lesson and I will be a student.” The students sit around the student-teacher, who sits in the large teacher chair. The teacher sits with the students holding an objective-aligned rubric. As the student-teacher “reads” the book to the class, the teacher observes to look for alignment to the illustrations in text. During the read aloud, the student-teacher emulates the teacher asking a comprehension question to a classmate. After the student-teacher is done “reading” the story, the teacher recaps the activity with the group of students (e.g. "What was your favorite part of the story?").
Practicing Whole Class
After learning about the letter D all week, the teacher instructs students to come to the rug for a read aloud. The teacher has selected a book that has many pictures some text. Prior to reading the book, the teacher primes students, saying, “We have been learning about the letter D all week. Today, you will try to find all of the letter D words in this book.” As the teacher reads the book, the students and teacher collaboratively identify which words begin with the letter D. Upon conclusion of the read aloud, the teacher thinks aloud, “Wow. You guys did a really great job finding the D words in this book. I’m wondering if one you would like to read this book to our class.” The teacher selects a student to switch places, and the student takes control of “reading” the book aloud. Once the student finishes the book, the teacher recaps the D words from the book and adds them to the word wall.

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