One of the most common ways to read text with high school classes is for teachers to pick individual students to read sections of the text aloud to the whole class. Research shows this is one of the most ineffective reading practices. Why?
- Round robin reading focuses on oral performance and decoding accuracy, not comprehension.
- It lowers the quantity of reading students do. (Research estimates that students actually read between two to six minutes in a typical round robin reading session. That’s not much reading.)
- It is detrimental to fluency because students are asked to read texts that are too difficult, which leads to choppy models of what reading sounds like.
- Round robin reading causes anxiety and embarrassment.
- Students rarely pay attention when they are not the one reading aloud.
- It is about CONTROL, not about effective reading instruction.
- It assumes everyone should read the same book, at the same time, at the same rate.
What are your alternatives?
1. Teacher read-aloud—You are the most fluent reader in the room. You know how to read at a proper level and rate with good expression, emphasizing the appropriate words. Your students will greatly benefit by hearing fluent reading. All the research out there proves the benefits of reading aloud to students. You can build enthusiasm for a text. You can engage your students and model expert reading for them.
2. Silent reading—If we want our students to engage in the reading, then students need the time to read texts independently. Teachers often worry that students won’t actually read. If that’s the case, then you need to problem solve. Is the text too long? Then you need to chunk the text into more manageable pieces. Did you provide them with support so they are prepared before they read? Have they previewed the vocabulary and text features? You also need to provide them with a purpose and a task during reading. And you need to give them an opportunity to talk or discuss or process the reading afterwards.
3. Partner reading—Although this alternative to Round Robin will take up the most class time, students can definitely benefit by working with a partner to read a text. This is the best way for students to practice fluent reading and reading out loud. Students will need the same before, during, and after-reading support as you would provide them with independent reading. You will need to closely monitor the pairs to ensure they remain on task. Consider having clear expectations established before the activity, and give students a task to complete during reading. For those kids who aren’t comfortable reading with a partner, students could read out loud (in a quiet voice) to themselves. You will need to circulate and listen to all of the students reading. I always walk around with a clipboard with a class list & make stars by their names when I hear them reading to make sure I have listened to everyone.
*For further help with structuring your reading activities, please attend the Wednesday Breakfast Study Groups, visit my blog (msbinstructionalcoach.wordpress.com) & click on the reading links, or give me a call or send an email. I’m always willing to give you suggestions or ideas.