Interactive Read Aloud


The teacher reads a text aloud to the class or to a small group to demonstrate engagement, fluency, and pausing for deeper comprehension. The teacher pauses both to model thinking aloud and to engage students in prompted partner or whole class discussion. Hearing text read aloud well is important for developing a sense for syntax, and for honing listening skills.

The teacher chooses a text that is at a Lexile and level of qualitative complexity that is appropriate for the majority of the class or the small group – in this case it could be a bit above their independent reading levels, as the reading aloud and stopping to process will serve as supports to understanding.

The teacher demonstrates transferable reading moves (such as stopping and questioning, using context clues to figure out tough words, etc.) throughout the reading.

Students do not have a copy of the text because if they do, they are not likely to follow the teacher’s pacing and thinking as closely. Instead, students respond and discuss based on their listening closely to the teacher’s reading of a text.

In future class periods, the teacher refers back to the transferable reading moves from the read aloud, either in the form of a chart or during subsequent lessons. Students use these same moves when reading Newsela articles that they choose, at their appropriate reading levels.

6th Grade Interactive Read Aloud: “Arizona Immigration Posse Now on School Patrol”

Considerations for text complexity

Class profile:

  • 75% of the class is reading at or above grade level
  • 20% of the class is reading slightly below grade
  • 5% of the class is reading more than two grades below grade level
  • It is October – the beginning of 6th Grade

Common Core “Stretch” Level band for grades 6-8: 925-1185

Article at Lexile 1150 versus 1050

1150 presents tougher sentence syntax with fewer embedded definitions of sophisticated terminology related to political issues (e.g. “undocumented workers” versus at 1050 “immigrants who did not have documents to work in the U.S.”)

Both versions present some qualitative complexity: the reader has to make inferential connections between the history of the posse as an enforcer of immigration laws and the role it currently plays as a would-be protector of schools. In addition, there are opportunities for readers to make broader connections between this sheriff’s actions and the national debate on gun control – these connections require interpretive thinking and benefit from some background knowledge of the topic.


Given that it is early in the year for this sixth grade, and that 25% of the students are not reading at grade level, it would be reasonable to select the 1050 Lexile level text: this is still within the grade band for sixth grade, and offers the chance to teach some higher-order thinking skills within nonfiction while staying within a reasonable level of difficulty for syntax and vocabulary. The interactive read-aloud method of presenting the text, in addition to some pre-text introductions, will support readers who may not be able to access this text independently.

Purposes of Newsela Instructional Read Aloud

  • Preview and read aloud text to provide multiple access points to a complex, worthwhile text and topic
  • Demonstrate and model fluent, engaged reading of informational text
  • Demonstrate and prompt for pausing and pacing of the text to monitor for comprehension and synthesize across parts
  • Demonstrate and prompt for questioning the text to push for more inferential and interpretive comprehension
  • Chart transferable strategies to support students’ application of the same work to future independent reading of informational texts
  • Introduce a common text that can become the practice ground for future close readings and lessons

Introduction to Read Aloud: Setting the Stage for a Through-Line of Reading Work

(Standards annotated throughout)

Today, we’re going to read an article together and practice some of the important work that helps us to make sense of information that we read. When we read news articles, it’s sometimes challenging to find central ideas, because often we are presented with a lot of details up front. The details are there to help us understand the basics of the story: who is the story about, what’s happening, where is it taking place, when did it happen. Think about your experience with reading or listening to the news – think about when and how most people read or watch the news - why do news writers put all this detailed information right at the beginning of the story? Discuss this with your partner – what could be the reason?

[Listen in… Share out responses that sound like…]

This partnership was saying that when they go to read a news article or when they are watching the news on TV, they want the most important information right away. They might not stay on that channel long, or they may flip to another page in the paper, so they want to know the main points up front.

Let’s practice reading an article together today. We’re going to stop once in awhile to make sure we are collecting the details that the author shares with us and then making sense of them by pushing to think: what is a central idea that holds these details together (CCSS RI 6.1 and 6.2). By the end of the article, we can decide what central idea or ideas go across the whole article, and what we still wonder or need to know to really understand this topic.

Reading to make sense of informational text
Stop frequently to ask:

  • What details has the author given so far?
  • What idea holds these details together? In other words, what do these details make the reader think about this topic?

Before we start, let’s take a look at the title: “Arizona Immigration Posse Now on School Patrol.”

Even headlines pack a punch in news articles – trying to cram a lot of information in a little space, in case readers are just skimming the headlines in an online format, or watching the crawl on TV. Right away we want to try to figure out what this will be about. Let’s look at the first three words and do some quick thinking: “Arizona Immigration Posse.” Hmm. So Arizona is a state – where is it? Yes, west of here. South and west. “Immigration” – what does that word mean? Tell your partner. OK, and finally “posse.” That’s a word you may not know, or may have heard in another context. In this article, it means a group of citizens that a sheriff (or local police leader) has gathered together to help with law enforcement. These days, some people use “posse” to mean just a group of friends or followers, but here it’s really going back to an earlier meaning – a group that is put together by a sheriff, or local police leader, to help with police investigations or protecting.

[You may give a moment for students to process this new word by talking it out with a partner. You may also decide to give further support by sketching or showing a photograph or movie still of a “posse.”]

And in fact, in this article, we are going to learn about an Arizona sheriff who has pulled together a posse – or a group of citizens - to help him in different ways.

[Begin reading article. Stop after paragraph 1.]

So we’ve learned quite a bit in a short time about this sheriff in Arizona. The author of the article wants us to understand what kind of sheriff he is before we get to the current story. The first sentence lets us know that he calls himself “the toughest sheriff in America.” It goes on to tell us ways in which he’s been “tough” – some of which seem to upset people. Let’s list these “tough” ways:

  • Racial profiling of Latinos
  • Investigating President Obama’s birth certificate
  • Joe’s Law – “controversial” statements about Mexican-Americans

What do all of these issues have in common? Keeping in mind the title – “Arizona Immigration Posse” – what can we say about Sheriff Arpaio so far? How is he introduced? (CCSS RI 6.3) What does he seem to be “tough” about? Discuss with your partner – some terms may be unfamiliar to you, but try to think it through based on everything else you do understand.

[Listen in, then share out or model an accurate response.]

So far, it seems he wants to be “tough” on immigrants. And it seems that not everyone agrees with the ways he has decided to be tough. Let’s keep reading to see what he’s up to now.

[Read paragraphs 2 and 3.]

OK, now we’re getting a different story. It seems that this “posse” he has put together has had many roles over the years. Let’s re-read the details about the posse and try to get a picture of what they have been doing, and what they’re doing now. With your partner, make a list of what the posse has done before and what they are doing now. [CCSS RI 6.1]

[Re-read paragraphs 2 and 3 and allow for partner discussion. Share and chart the posse’s jobs:

  • Helping to stop shopping mall robberies
  • Raiding workplaces to find immigrants who didn’t have the right work documents
  • Keeping schools safe by patrolling them

Now, what does this make us think? We can think about the sheriff – what does it say about him that these are the things he’s getting help with – or we can think about the idea of a citizen posse – what are we learning about what kinds of issues they get called to help with?

[Chart: Sheriff: example: He thinks that getting more people out policing will stop crime. OR – he sees illegal immigration as just as dangerous a crime as robbery and school shootings. Posse – they get asked to help with issues that are important to the sheriff, not necessarily what they think are important.]

[Continue in this way, stopping after each section to sum up details and prompt for idea-making. After the next couple of sections, ask students to think across sections. What is a bigger idea that they have about this sheriff, or about the issue of protecting schools, or about law enforcement? Allow partnerships to choose the topic they want to think about, then chart possible central ideas in the article.]

[At the end of the article … give all students a copy of the article. Pull them together for a whole class talk.]

Could be the next day or that day if there is time: Whole class discussion: [Set up a system for whole class talk where students understand that they will run the conversation. Give an open-ended prompt, and let students call on each other to continue the conversation so that they have control of making connections with each other.]

Now that we have finished reading, it’s time to take stock of all the thinking we’ve done across the article. We want to push ourselves to come up with central ideas that this article teaches us, and remember the details that support those ideas. (CCSS RI 6.2) Let’s try it with several topics that the article touches. [chart possible topics for discussion – the sheriff; protecting schools from gun violence; law enforcement methods, others…]

Let’s talk about the central ideas that came up in this article, using examples from the text to back them up. (CCSS SL 6.1) When you participate in the conversation, be sure to state your idea clearly and to say what part of the article made you think that. To continue the conversation, call on someone else to keep it going. Let’s try to stay with the same idea for a while, so try saying “Another example of this is …” or “I think another part of the article that goes with that is …” 

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