CONNECT Module 6: Using CONNECT Module to Help Preservice Teachers Implement Dialogic Reading Practices

by Sharon Palsha (right)
Clinical Associate Professor
UNC Chapel Hill

What techniques do you currently use to teach storybook reading to students? Do you provide chances for your students to practice and get feedback on reading storybooks to groups? What strategies do you use to do that? Sharon Palsha from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill talks about the new CONNECT Module 6 on dialogic reading and it’s use in early childhood settings.

Research points out the importance of high quality read-alouds for increasing the vocabulary, oral language and comprehension of pre-school children. Therefore, knowing how to implement a high quality read-aloud is a critical skill needed by early childhood professionals.  CONNECT Module 6  on dialogic reading allowed my early childhood students to become competent and skilled in their abilities to read to children. A valuable tool in the module is the availability of a checklist  that reminds students, through the use of the acronyms CROWD and PEER key elements to include as they read to children. The teacher candidates came to understand that dialogic reading is more than simply reading to children, but an opportunity to have conversations with children around a book. Is your early childhood program giving the attention to dialogic reading that it deserves?  I strongly encourage you to check out CONNECT’s new module!

About the Author: Sharon Palsha, a former researcher at FPG Child Development Institute, has 34 years experience as an educator and is currently a Clinical Associate Professor of Early Childhood at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she begins her ninth year coordinating and teaching in the undergraduate program. Sharon is also currently a Research Fellow at FPG working to assist in the development of CONNECT Modules.



  • What techniques do you currently use to teach storybook reading to students?
  • Do you provide chances for your students to practice and get feedback on reading storybooks to groups?  What strategies do you use to do that?
  • Have you used any CONNECT Videos for instruction? If so, how has it been received by students?


Modeling read alouds and providing opportunities to practice

Similar to other strategies or practices I taught my students, teaching about reading aloud to children included attention to the features of effective instruction, most notably modeling and providing opportunities to practice. I modeled a read-aloud to them that incorporated dialogic reading strategies (prompts posted on sticky notes and placed at appropriate points in the book) and as I read the book, I would prompt, wait for the response, and then model the feedback in the form of elaborated language. We would discuss language facilitation strategies that were part of my response so the connections would be as explicit as possible. I would also do this in the form of a "think aloud" to highlight the evaluation part of dialogic reading that informs the elaboration. Students would have opportunities to practice with each other in pairs (selecting a book, previewing, preparing prompts, reading parts to each other to practice the prompts, etc.). During this time, I would monitor and provide feedback to them on the quality of the prompts and the feedback. When I had these same students for the third time (3rd course in a sequence: Language Acquisition, Teaching Beginning Reading, Emergent Literacy), they had the opportunity to conduct read-alouds in K-2 classrooms at our lab school as part of a 3-person team. Each person would have the opportunity to prepare and read to the class, while the other two observed and completed the observation tool/rubric. Each read-aloud was videotaped and the students had the opportunity to engage in self-reflection, which included their own observations combined with feedback from the instructors and their peers. The feedback I received from cooperating teachers when these students were student teaching (the semester following this course) was very positive and several continued to remark that the students understood the value of a quality read-aloud and were able to execute very well as evidenced by their preparation (good book selection, read-aloud plan, sticky notes, etc.) and the quality of their language and feedback during embedded prompting and discussing. The read-aloud serves as an ideal opportunity to teach important content that relates to language and emergent literacy in many areas so it was worth the time and effort.

Preparation to use dialogic reading strategies is worth the effo

Some of my former students used to comment that they didn't realize how much planning went into reading aloud to their young students, but that this planning paid off for them and their students. Through self-reflection and the use of an observation checklist and rating tool while reviewing their video-recorded read-alouds, they were able to notice how specific questions elicited more language from their young students than others and thus, they, as teachers, had more opportunity to build on children's language. They were able to focus on the children's responses and identify ways in which they could elaborate and provide rich language models for children. Using dialogic reading strategies helped my students appreciate the value of having conversations during a read-aloud with a purpose that exceeded a typical discussion embedded in a read-aloud (i.e., to monitor understanding, practice comprehension strategies, etc.)--one that focuses on language development and how language and literacy are integrally related. As is the case with most research- or evidence-based strategies, when we learn to implement them systematically and with thoughtful planning, they become an inherent part of our practice so the preparation becomes effortless, but always has a huge pay off.