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Teaching Patriotism in the Classroom with the Shared Reading Model

written by: Laurie Patsalides • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/17/2012

The beginning of the school year is a great time to teach students about the reason they say The Pledge of Allegiance. Here is an example of teaching it through shared reading.

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    A Review of Shared Reading

    Shared reading is a process whereby students "share" in the reading with their teacher. Students enjoy the thrill of practicing shared reading as they can "echo read", learn about print, act out the reading, and reread again and again. Patricia Cunningham is well known for her contributions in her writing about shared reading.

    Reasons to do shared reading lesson plans are to discover the meaning of text, print conventions, vocabulary and sight words, phonological patterns or using drama. A shared reading piece is typically read over the duration of a school week, but may go longer as necessary. I have some shared reading texts that I teach with for one week, but refer back to them throughout the school year. The Pledge of Allegiance is one of them.

    Primary teachers use big books, poems, chants, songs or nursery rhymes for shared reading. The shared reading text is enlarged either on a poster, on chart paper (teacher-made), songs, an Interactive Writing piece (refer to my article on Interactive Writing) or in a big book for all students to see.

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    Choosing the Text

    The beginning of the school year is a great time to introduce The Pledge of Allegiance. A Performance Indicator for Social Studies (in New York) states that, "students know the roots of American culture, its development from many traditions, and the ways many people from a variety of groups and backgrounds played a role in creating it. SS1.E.1A ".

    To show students that the same piece of information can be written in different forms, I would show them three forms of the shared reading text, in this case, The Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge of Allegiance would be written on a teacher made poster, a store bought poster of The Pledge of Allegiance and in a book, The Pledge of Allegiance (Scholastic, Inc. 2001) as the three choices. In this way, students visually learn that the same text can be read in different forms.

    Identify the purpose of reading The Pledge of Allegiance to the students first. Kindergarteners are expected to learn the pledge but may have no prior knowledge as to why we say it. They recite the pledge every day and usually garble the words, especially, "and to the Republic for which it stands", most likely words Kindergarteners may have never spoken the pledge before and certainly don't comprehend its meaning.

    This book will not only give you a great shared reading text, but will be the start of reading a text for comprehension and understanding while learning the history of the flag and the reasons that we say The Pledge of Allegiance. This shared reading text will also give you a great start for teaching proper pronunciation of words. There are scenes from all over America in the book and even an astronaut on the moon holding the American flag. In the back of the book there are explanations about where the photographs in the book were taken and why. I also use the books, The Flag We Love and My Country Tis of Thee for this historical theme (pictured below). Please see for many great history lesson ideas and free downloads for teachers and families.

    For a whole series of social studies lesson plans for primary students, including the history and meaning of school, read more.

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    Images of Texts for Patriotism

    Pledge of Allegiance BookThe Flag We LoveMy Country Tis of Thee
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    Images courtesy of


  • Teacher experience is the inspiration for this piece.