Shared Reading: The Beginning of Something Great

Thursday, July 18, 2013
How do you teach a struggling reader at the high school level to use comprehension strategies—let alone to read at a deeper level? Enter The Shared Reading: A 4-day, close reading model that works beautifully to teach kids how to read a difficult text and guides them through deeper thought processes.

Last year, our very first year with our new friend, STAAR, our district decided to give CBAs (Curriculum Based Assessments) every six weeks to predict how our students might perform on STAAR. [I know…you’re probably laughing or rolling your eyes or both]. Once scores for the first one were uploaded and able to view, I clicked and then I scrolled and then I might have screamed or cried. At the very least, I certainly gasped for air.

Quickly, I grabbed a printout and ran to my buddy’s room. Suzanne was at her desk, and I already knew she had seen the scores. Her face said it all. We had passing rates at 10% and below. It was ugly. Something had to be done.

Soon, we found ourselves in my classroom at a table hashing out a plan to fix this ugly problem. We decided that it was a close reading issue and an inferencing issue, and then like all teachers across the state of Texas, we wondered how in the world to fix it. I immediately remembered a book from graduate school: Text Savvy by Sarah Daunis and Maria Iams. This book, although geared toward elementary, gave me a beautiful framework to think about how to encourage students to interact with a text and how to show the merit of re-entering a text to gain meaning. Here’s some REALLY worthwhile research to consider from the introduction:
  • Good reading skills transcend different genres. Strong readers know how to apply similar strategies to a variety of different texts.
  • “Unlike minilessons, where the students are taught and asked to briefly try out a new strategy related to the current unit of study, weekly shared reading is a five-day model where kids repeatedly return to those five essential reading skills regardless of the current unit of study.”

Now think about how that research applies to real live children:
  • Students are tested with a variety of genres on their EOC exams.
  • Many students lack strong comprehension skills.
  • Shared Reading offers struggling readers an entry point, a way to gain access to understanding the material in a non-threatening way.
  • Since it is indeed detached from the current unit of study, students’ enter the text on high alert. I like to think about it like walking into a movie that has already started. Your brain is in overdrive trying to figure out what is going on.

We needed to show kids concrete ways to attack abstract texts, to make inferences, and to support those inferences with evidence [Hello Figure 19!]. We adapted our Shared Reading Model so that the strategies that we target all fall under the realm of comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, or inferencing.

When Shared Reading becomes a part of your instructional routine, you grow stronger readers.

For more background research, click here.

The Shared Reading Series:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Already sold and ready for Shared Readings of your own?  Click here to purchase lessons for English I  and here for English II.


  1. Hey there! I've been enjoying your shared readings (I bought the English II set). I was hoping to buy English I to use in summer school, but I can't find the posting. Do you plan on making it available for sale?

    1. I'm so glad that you're enjoying the English II Shared Readings! Email us at, and we will work to get that English I set to you.

  2. The shared readings are WORKING! I love the bite size chunks that it gives my kiddos. These are great lessons. :) Just had to come give some kudos because my classroom is sooooo Curly this year!

    1. Yay! Yay! Yay! That's what I love to hear. So glad your year is off to a great start!