This post first appeared on the REL West blog and is posted here with permission.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the country are being forced to move instruction to virtual platforms in order to abide by social distancing protocols and keep people safe and healthy while minimizing the spread of the virus. With little time to prepare for this dramatic and unprecedented shift, teachers and parents of young children are currently being inundated with online resources. In particular, there is a deluge of online read-alouds — by celebrities, grandparents, and teachers — in an attempt to provide a fun and enjoyable story time for young kids.

Most of these read-aloud videos are just that — adults reading the text of books. However, intentionally designed read-alouds are able to provide far more than just a pleasant experience. They can foster literacy development by building language and comprehension skills. In particular, English language learners and young children with language challenges need additional supports to comprehend and access text being read to them and opportunities to extend their learning during and following the read-aloud experience.

In this video, a skilled professional development facilitator shares tips for asking effective questions for both on-the-surface and deeper-dive discussions of books, models the read-aloud process, and introduces a writing task and a read-aloud planning template. Download the related lesson planning template, which includes step-by-step instructions for planning your own interactive read-alouds.

The video draws on key recommendations in the What Works Clearinghouse practice guide, Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade (2010), in particular, Recommendation 3 Guide students through focused, high-quality discussion on the meaning of text and the recommendation to “Develop discussion questions that require students to think deeply about text.”

For more on interactive read-alouds, view our English Learner Webinar Series.