1. When doing a Reading Minilesson, I use examples from our IRA to model the concept being taught in the minilesson because it is a common text that all students are familiar with. For example, if the minilesson is "Readers recognize themes in literature so that they can identify the big ideas of the story," I would model this to students by talking about themes in our IRA.
2. I find IRA's to be really helpful with "Writing About Reading." When students write about reading in regards to an IRA, it is a quick and easy formative assessment for me to see if they're understanding the reading concept that I'm asking them to write about.
3. During Word Study, I use IRA's to pull mentor sentences out and have students notice what the author is doing in the sentence as a basis for teaching grammar and mechanics. Conversations around what writers do and noticing it I have found to be extremely helpful when teaching concepts that I had previously lectured and given worksheets on. This has been working and transferring into their writing and every day language much more effectively.
4. I also use IRA's as a form of standardized test preparation. My students will be taking the Wisconsin state test (WKCE) at the end of October. I am now beginning every class period with a question similar to one they would see in the reading portion of the WKCE. The questions are based on an excerpt from the IRA that I printed off for each student.
5. IRA is a time to teach students to enjoy reading, discussing reading, and thinking about reading. When I stop during an IRA I am either modeling my own thinking about the text, asking students to turn and talk about something in the text, or opening up a question or comment for a full-group discussion. Students are thinking within, beyond, and about the text each day. I have also noticed that for some of my reluctant readers, they are completely into the IRA. I think a part of this is because they're experiencing success with the text.
6. Listening skills are enhanced from IRA. Students have to key in to the reading and engage in the discussion surrounding the text without the actual text in front of them. It is a totally different way to experience reading.
So those are just a few reasons why I highly recommend using Interactive Read Aloud in your classroom. No matter the age of your students, there are still many benefits. Whether you want to read a short story or a novel with your class, tomorrow is a new day to start something that you've never tried before or lost touch with in your teaching. Pick out an engaging text and start reading...