Can a Read-Aloud With Accountable Talk Help Develop Students’ Language Skills?

How to Facilitate a Read-Aloud with Accountable Talk in Your Classroom


Teacher’s expectations are communicated to students at the outset of the session. Introduce the concept of accountable talk. Accountable talk is basically academically productive talk. A read-aloud with accountable talk should be introduced to students as a classroom talk that pertains to learning. They should be told to refrain from talking about other things during this workshop or session. Choose an appropriate book which will convey the lessons of accountable talk in a simplified format. The teacher can choose a workshop model or a class discussion model for better effectiveness.

Materials Required:

Writer’s Notebook, worksheets, film and video clips

Weekly Plan

Day 1: Introduce the text, gather students around, read aloud and prompt students to ask questions based on cues.

Day 2: Read aloud and let the children jot down points.

Day 3: Read aloud, group students into pairs and let them ask questions based on accountable talk.

Day 4: Read aloud, have a common session for vocabulary clarification, form cluster groups to discuss difficult words, come together and report the words that need clarification.

Day 5: Discuss the read-aloud sessions held earlier and write about what was understood.

Share sessions should be brought up to discuss the input of all participants, including what were the difficulties they encountered and what benefits they acquired.

When the teacher reads the books aloud twice (or according to the grade level), students should follow in their own texts, searching, finding passages, and writing questions and words for discussion.

Help them to quote, cite and give evidence from the text. Gradually, the teacher prompts the students to take responsibility in the read aloud sessions, prompting them to be more active as the lessons progress through the weeks.

Sessions last about 50 minutes, starting from reading aloud to rounds of questions. Ideally, as the classes progress, the teachers minimize their involvement and increase student participation. There should be an increased participation in referring texts and quoting from them.


A read-aloud with accountable talk equips students to develop skills pertinent to discerning and analyzing.

They learn to:

  • Pay attention to what others are saying.
  • Reproduce the ideas of the last speaker.
  • Build on the last speaker’s comments.
  • Produce evidence to substantiate what someone is saying.
  • Create an ambience for free speech and free writing.
  • Learn to support, defend, oppose, substantiate and clarify talk in an academic setting.
  • Support by evidence.

Ways to Make the Read-Aloud Productive

In order to train students to interact politely in a sophisticated manner, facilitators can prompt them to provide qualitative input by giving lessons in:

  • Making oneself heard.
  • Giving worthwhile input into conversations.
  • Waiting for turns.
  • Expressing clearly and succinctly.
  • Teaching the role of silence when required.
  • Understanding the power of words.
  • Words to be spoken at the opportune moment.
  • Giving and taking.
  • Practicing how to explain.
  • Learning to substantiate.
  • Speak about what you know or what you have seen and experienced.
  • Questioning, probing, clarifying, substantiating, supporting and continuing on.


Train them to start sentences using stems such as:

I have understood what you said…

May I point out…?

I would like to suggest…

Do you mind clarifying…?

I am definitely interested in hearing more…

In your report, you suggest…

Let me add to what we have been discussing…

I definitely agree with…

I respectfully disagree with what..

I agree with Paul because…

How can I find evidence for…?

Teacher: So, Mary, why do you think Peter is disagreeing with you?

Reaping the Benefits

Accountable talk makes students participate in intellectually challenging tasks and they learn to hold discussions in an amicable manner. Students respect the view points of their peers and others and their communicative skills are strengthened by interaction. Most importantly, it empowers students to draw up arguments based on cited evidence. They get practice in being good conversationalists, reporting and leading conversations. A teacher’s job as a facilitator is crucial in making the understanding of the subject permanent.

References and Resources

Photo courtesy – wikicommons

Accountable Talk: 3 CD ROM set, IFL, Michaels O’Connor, Hall and Resnick (2003)

Improving Perception and Language Acquisition