Best of Teacher HELPLINE!: 6 Interactive Reading Strategies to Boost Student Engagement

Reading aloud is an important skill, but it can be all too easy for us to allow this activity to become mundane and detached by repeatedly conducting “popcorn reading” or simply reading aloud to the class and asking students questions. […]

Reading aloud is an important skill, but it can be all too easy for us to allow this activity to become mundane and detached by repeatedly conducting “popcorn reading” or simply reading aloud to the class and asking students questions. Deb, a 9th grade english teacher, asked the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! for recommendations on reading strategies to promote student engagement.

Read on to learn six strategies for interactive reading that are recommended for teachers, by teachers. We’ve also compiled corresponding videos for each strategy —if one strikes your fancy, check out the video to see it in action!

1. Reciprocal Teaching
Ingrid B. recommends using Reciprocal Teaching to promote student engagement. This strategy breaks students into groups and assigns roles, such as Summarizer, Questioner, Clarifier and Predictor, to encourage them to engage with the text and each other.  



2. Think Pair Share / Turn and Talk
Think Pair Share, also referred to as Turn and Talk, to allows all students in the class an opportunity to discuss their thoughts. This strategy even engages those who are shy about speaking in front of large groups. “I do a lot of KAGAN strategies… Think Pair Share is a good way to have the kids develop their own thoughts before discussing it with partners. I teach second grade, and although I still have my class choral read all together aloud with me, I will also have partners read a section, think about a question or prompt on their own and then discuss with their partner. I’ll also have them write a response in a journal or sticky note before sharing with the partner. I then have students share their responses with the class for a deeper discussion.” —Christina S.



3. Interactive Reading Journals
Encourage both reading and writing with Interactive Reading Journals. Students use prose, lists, diagrams, etc. to express their ideas, questions and feelings about what they read. “My students do an interactive reading journal… On one side, during their first reading, they write questions, one per page. (You can give them sentence stems or verbs to make their questions higher-order.) On a second reading (often a partner read,) they pass their journals around and answer each others’ questions. I participate with my own journal as well. My students are ELLs, and I usually sit by a few of the lower ones and transcribe their questions, so others can read them.” —Adriane G.



4. Close Reading

Jane S. suggests Close Reading in which a specific passage is analyzed and questioned in great detail. This strategy encourages higher-level thinking.

5. Socratic Seminars
Students ask open-ended questions during Socratic Seminars. These are formal discussions that encourage students to listen to their peers, think critically and share their own thoughts and opinions. “Socratic groups are engaging. Kids prepare at home by close reading and questioning. Then they participate in the lit study in class…” —Camie L.



6. Reader’s Theater

Develop students’ reading fluency with Reader’s Theater. Students use scripts to read the text orally. “Have them do parts of it as reader’s theater. They have to think to change the text into a script as well as vocalize properly.” —Cheryl M.

Posted by Marlana Martinelli

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