Without his device, Joey has been choosing to read books that give him more opportunities to interact during the read aloud. He wants to hold an animal, wave a magic wand, or move a velcroed piece around on his work tray. Last week I wondered just what was so appealing about Room on the Broom that we couldn’t break away from reading it. Through looking at what the Room on the Broom read aloud structure looks like for Joey, and considering that without his device read alouds can be more of a listening experience than an interactive one, I realized I needed to increase the opportunities for Joey to engage during a book.
When Joey has his device, he does not need as many “bells and whistles” while reading a book. He can make his own comments, share his thoughts, make predictions, and answer my questions. Now, without words, he’s left at the reader’s mercy on whether or not he will get to participate. I suspect this is why Room on the Broom was such a hit for so long. We’d created such an interactive experience that Joey could participate in the story without his device.
My next set of book choices for Joey have included more hands-on opportunities. These are books with lots of animal characters, so that Joey can choose the stuffed animal to match the book character as the story goes along. In these books, an animal often leaves or runs away, which gives Joey the opportunity to drop or throw the animal and continue acting out the story.
I’ve also increased the visual supports I am using. Asides from the play animals, I am using a laminated clip art picture of each animal so that Joey can pull the animals off of a velcroed board as we read, and move these images around on his tray as the story goes along. This also allows us to line them up, count them, and make math stories out of the animals’ comings and goings.
I am thinking through exactly what questions I will ask Joey, and what topics I want to cover so that I have laminated visual answer choice cards for him to participate. Even if I am asking the same question repeatedly, Joey seems to enjoy the interaction and opportunity to participate.
When Joey has access to his device, he does not show as much interest in all the extra stuff. I can ask harder questions about the book that require more vocabulary. Now, I need to be more thoughtful and planned so that I can provide Joey with opportunities to have a voice.
What these few weeks have taught me is that Joey highly values the interactions during read alouds, and he has a strong desire (like many children) to participate in his environment.