Reflecting on Literature instruction: Read aloud

Example - The Last Basselope by Berkeley Breathed



This page includes suggestions for reflecting on read aloud and other literature based learning activities. An example of one teachers selection, read aloud, and reflections for The Last Basselope. and an accompanying focus activity. Finally a video of a read aloud of The Last Basselope,.

The suggestions below include many more ideas to reflect on than is necessary to include in one reflection. Review the list and select ones that interest you for a particular read aloud or other activity. As you select them, check that you have included a description of the activity, what opportunities were available for learning, what was learned, evidence to support your inferences for learning, and the attitudes of the learners related to their experience.

Suggestions for reflections on literacy and literature

What is the piece of literature or activity:

Facilitating Literature ideas for the activity:

Describe what students discovered from reading, viewing, and or listening to the story.

  • What did learners already know that related to the story? 
  • How did you diagnose this at the beginning of the lesson? 
  • What convinced you your inferences were accurate?
  • What reasoning processes and strategies did the learners use to understand and analyze the story? 
  • How did you focus learners’ attention on different attributes of the story? 
  • What did learners learn?
  • How did you make decisions that facilitated learners' understandings of those ideas?
  • What evidence from the story was used to make conclusions and facilitate learners' learning? 
  • What ways were you able to push learners to try new ideas to understand story elements, genre, and quality characteristics of a story?
  • What did you learn that is important for other teachers to know about helping learners understand and critically analyze literature?

Describe how students represented their understanding.

  • What did learners learn? 
  • How did students organize and represent new ideas to understand story elements, genre, and quality characteristics of a story?
  • What did learners do in the lesson to create these representations? 
  • What evidence from the story was used to make them?
  • How did you help them focus on these ideas?
  • What did learners say or do to convince them and you they understood the ideas(s)?
  • How did learners generalize their representation to a story grammar or structure for later application?
  • What did learners say or do to convince them and you they could apply or expand on idea(s)? 
  • What did learners say or do to convince themselves and you they were doing literature?

Attitudes of literature:

  • How did you encourage learners to use attitudes that people find helpful when reading, listening, or viewing literature? 
  • What did learners say or do to convince themselves and you that they valued and/or enjoyed literature?
  • How did you create opportunities where learners had a desire to communicate with you or other students what they learned?
  • How did you increase learners understanding of what literature is, how it can be used, and a desire to use and value it in their world?
  • What did you learn that is important for other teachers to know about helping learners increase their appreciation for literature?

Teacher reflection for the read-aloud book activity

Before reading

After reading the picture book The Last Basselope: One Ferocious Story (1992) by Berkeley Breathed , I knew it would be one great book for others to read or to listen to as a read aloud.

However, the teacher part of my brain wanted to know what the listeners or readers would get out of it. What they would take away from the experience and hopefully desire to respond to so that I might be able to facilitate a deeper understanding.

I thought of imagination, creativity, visualization, dialogue, story telling, and story elements. I rattled through the story elements, plot, characterization, setting, tone, style, theme, and point of view. Any or all could be a possibility.

I didn't think much more about it, until I selected the story to read aloud in a classroom. As I did I thought I would need something to grab the students' attention and focus it on the story for them to really get into it.

I took a poster and drew the characters. I decided to place one character in a less obvious position and included both names for one character. I put each name on its own small piece of poster board.

Before reading I planned to ask the learners to guess the names of the characters.

After they discussed each, I would clip each above the character that was agreed upon or close to characters they thought it might be.

The picture below shows the poster, the labels with the names of the characters, the title of the book, and author's name.

Poster picture

During reading

I read the book and only stopped if there was a person who looked as if they wanted to share something with the class.

Some groups wanted to stop after each charter's name was identified and discuss, so I would.

Then before starting again, we would briefly review where we were in the story before reading again.

After reading

I did as planned and the suggestions the students had were interesting and helped them become familiar with the names and encouraged them to listen and find which character was which. For some it might have focused them more on that than the story, but later I realized the story could be read more than once for different reasons.

One interesting thing that happened after reading was the discussion about the characters. Learners did want to talk about each character and the role they had in the story.

Another interesting idea that emerged was, who was the main character?

Most thought it was Opus and some thought Rosebud, The Last Basselope. The conversation continued with ideas from the book that supported which characteristics each thought a main character should have.

Support for Opus included: he organized the search, located Rosebud, made friends with Rosebud, helped with the escape, and was with Rosebud at the end.

Support for Rosebud included: being in the story from the beginning to the end, the title of the book referred to Rosebud, he made a friend, and he was in the book at end.

Either way the discussion was good and the learners were eager for me or their teacher to tell them who was the main character. I wouldn't or couldn't and neither would their teacher suggest one more than the other. We believed that what each learner thought was important to them should be the deciding factor. We felt it was most important for us not to devalue their thinking as it might lessen their transaction and response to the story and reading in general.

Overall the learners enjoyed the book and requested I leave it so they could reread it. They reviewed their ideas on characterization and what a main character might be. They used references from the book and ideas of story elements to support their claims. They also saw other learners and adults, along with them, have an enjoyable transaction with a quality picture book and enjoy sharing their responses to it. It was a planned activity, however it was planned to empower learners to enjoy and think critically about a story. I believe it achieved that.



Focus activity or anticipatory set

Before you read the story, guess which character's illustration matches to their name in the book.

Sketch of characters with their names








  1. One character is a bit hard to see.
  2. One character may have two names.


Read aloud for The Last Basselope. by Berkeley Breathed

About 13 minutes.


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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