Shared Reading in Middle and High School

 In Support for Struggling Readers

Shared Reading is a time-honored tradition in primary classrooms for students who are just learning to read. But is there a place for Shared Reading in upper grades?

Shared Reading is an instructional routine in which the teacher guides a group of students in reading a common text. Usually, the teacher reads the text aloud to the students first, then they join in on subsequent readings. Ideally, students are following along as the teacher reads; unfortunately, this is rarely the case! Some students just like to listen to the text; others simply can’t keep up with a proficient reader, especially if difficult words or concepts are present. That’s why it’s important to read the text a few times in order to make it accessible to all. 

Because Shared Reading exposes students to texts that are slightly beyond what they can read on their own, it supports building comprehension, vocabulary and fluency. An essential component of Shared Reading is repetition. The text should be read two or three times, for different purposes.  A possible routine is: teacher reads aloud – students reread in unison – students reread independently.


1.  Choose a short text that will engage students and lend itself to higher level thinking and rereading for different purposes. Poems are often good choices for shared reading, as they generally contain literary language, require inference, and can be read in one sitting. But any text may be used.

2.   Practise reading the text out loud so you can model effective fluency and expression. Decide where you might pause during the reading to invite students to construct meaning.

3.  Read the text aloud as students follow along, using your pre-selected pause points for student discussion.

4.  If the text is short, you might choose to have students read the text together after the first reading. Choral reading is a good way to build fluency.

5.  Have students reread the text on their own in order to answer questions, write a written response, complete a graphic organizer or engage in another response task.

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