I walked into Ms. Fleming’s room ready to film her mini-lesson on “Getting to Know Our Characters” and I found myself happily distracted with her shared reading pieces that I saw hanging around the room.  So, since I’m procrastinating on editing the video, spending all my free-time on Amazon doing not-so local Christmas shopping, I thought I’d blast out a few quick tips on the Whys and the Hows of the the quick and high-yield instructional strategy called Shared Reading.

Why Shared Reading?

Shared Reading could easily be dismissed as a fluffy activity that gets past over for DEAR time or Popcorn Reading or, even worse, simply forgotten about all together.  Dust off that rickety coat rack turned chart-holder-with-good-intentions! Rev up that new I-pad projector!  Welcome Shared Reading into your classroom, I say!   Popcorn Reading and Round Robin Reading are DEAD, people.  Haven’t you heard?  Shared Reading is easy to implement and, once engrained into the daily routine, you’ll never look back…even you skeptical upper elementary and Middle School teachers.  Check out what the NY Times has to offer in the way of Shared Reading–FREE!

What is Shared Reading?

Shared Reading is one of those eight instructional practices that we as a District are moving towards implementing across the sites as we work on developing our RVSD Literacy Framework.  It is an instructional practice where students and teachers read and reread a text, often in chart, big book or projected form.  For the younger set, the purpose of shared reading is often FLUENCY & ENGAGEMENT, however, you can layer and extend a shared reading piece in myriad ways to do the following for EVERY age:

Model and teach the characteristics of a specific text-type or genre, like poetry, song, short non-fiction articles, short stories etc (3rd-5th graders, have you heard of StoryWorks Magazine?  A GREAT source for short non-fiction)

Model effective reading strategies (like close reading!) in a text that is accessible to all and then use text as the piece that all students produce a written response from (New York Times makes it easy and FREE here for 4th-Middle Schoolers)

Use as a contextual base for phonics work/sight words and/or comprehension skills and strategies like this:

or this:

Use as a way to introduce a paired text to parallel content (ie. a poem about Native Americans while you’re doing text book reading about the same topic)

No matter what text you are using for SHARED READING, the process over the week should be the same:

1.  The text should be large enough for all to see

2.  In lower grades, the text should be read and re-read throughout the week in JAZZY (more on that later) ways so that by Friday, even the low-progress readers can read it with confidence and fluency

3.  Ideally, the shared reading piece should be linked to content or word work or both!

Let’s check out the three types of SHARED READING that Ms. Fleming incorporates into her days, shall we?

1.  Morning message

2.  Interactive/Collaborative text

3.  Twin or Paired text


Ms. Fleming starts everyday with Shared Reading using a flexible approach called:  THE MORNING MESSAGE.  Here is one example of her Morning Message:

IMG_3089Ms. Fleming wrote it in letter format to familiarize her first graders with that text type.  She also incorporated her weekly sight words (your, they, make) and some sight words from last week (are, can, our).

Here’s another Morning Message from a different day:

IMG_3109Again, this was written in letter format with sight words written in red.  The Morning Message is read several times in CHORAL fashion to promote fluency and to engrain sight words.

Ways to JAZZ up that CHORAL practice:  All Boys Read!  All Girls Read!  Read it whisper!  Read it LOUD!  Read it in Song!  Read it like a rock star!  Read it in opera!  Call on students to read it as they transition from one activity to another!  Dramatic read with hand gestures and the like!  Watch these fourth and fifth graders read with dramatic engagement and comprehension playing “The Nutty Professor Reading Game”

Ways to Make the Morning Message Interactive:

Here’s another example right HERE of a Morning Message written with words and letters missing to make the experience more interactive and focused on spelling patterns.

Here’s an example of a interactive Morning Message in an upper grade classroom.

Here’s a GREAT blog for K/1st grade with all kinds of variations on Morning Message.


A second example of shared reading is a COLLABORATIVE TEXT that the students dictated and Ms. Fleming wrote.  Ms. Fleming uses the students who are having a birthday as the content:


Birthday students are interviewed by the class while Ms. Fleming “holds the pen” and writes.  As she writes, she models stretching words, writing using standard conventions etc.  This presents a model of writing for students while also demonstrating the act of writing and all the “noisy” work that goes into it.  This is a perfect example of a “WE DO” exercise in the gradual release model of instruction.

Ways to modify and extend collaborative text across the grades:

*Students retell or summarize a story orally (with teacher guidance) using sequence or transition words and teacher writes on chart or types up on I-pad as they go.  Use this as shared reading text all week.

*Whole class contributes to writing a narrative, opinion or informational text while teacher scribes, guides and projects on wall.  This can be used as shared reading AND a model for writing that you would expect students to produce on their own. (Gradual release…again.)

INTERACTIVE writing is where the teacher and student “share the pen” and the students physically contribute to the piece on the chart paper or sentence strip.  Yet another “WE DO” activity.  Here’s what it can look like (Sorry, Ms. Fleming, I can’t get your photo to upload):

Here’s another image where 5th grade students “share the pen” with each other to create a collaborative text-structure graphic:



One of the most efficient ways to intersperse the CCSS new thrust of non-fiction & poetry, in my humble opinion, is to incorporate it into the instructional practice of shared reading.  Ways to do this:

*Project a Scholastic News, Storyworks or NYTimes poem or article on the screen!  Read, re-read, close-read, compare/contrast, annotate!

*Project a POEM tied to a Social Studies, Science or current event theme!  Read, re-read, close-read, annotate, written response, compare/contrast!

*Project lyrics to a popular song and discuss the layers of meaning.  Seriously engaging for kids and any time you can intersperse pop-culture, go for it.  It’ll make you look cool, even if you’re not.

*If you’re old skool (like me), write a poem on chart paper each week, laminate, hang with circular brackets and, by year’s end, you’ve got fifty shared reading texts for the next year & you just flip them over each week.  Put it in a literacy center with some reading wands and you’ve got yourself a little Read-to-Self or Read-to-Partner activity.  Give it a little more punch by making a copy and putting it the homework packet each week for extra fluency practice.

Here’s some Poetry Links on-line that are some great resources for shared reading:

This has GREAT poems arranged by theme (for 1st,2nd and above):


Scroll through link below for some short but layered poems tied to themes:


Georgia Heard has lots of great resources for poetry in the classroom:


Hubbard’s Cupboard Blog for great info on all elements of Balanced Lit for K/1st

How do you use SHARED READING in your classroom?  Any Balanced Literacy practices you’d like to showcase?  Email me!  Stay tuned for more from Ms. Fleming’s room!