Round Robin reading is totally fine to do… If you are in a small group. We have all heard it. No Round Robin Reading! The reason? Round Robin Reading is a no-no because not all students are getting a chance for reading practice and some students tune it out. I hated being called on to read in class. I would always figure out exactly which paragraph I had to read or would notice when someone said the last word of a paragraph. Then the “popcorn” method was invented so students could be “unsuspecting” of their reading turn. But, really that is a bit humiliating and the actual amount each student practices reading is very low. So what can you do? I mean, you have material you need to read in the classroom.
To optimize your reading practice in your classroom, why not mix it up with one of these methods:
Echo Reading– In echo reading, the teacher will read a word, phrase, sentence, or even a paragraph first. Then the students together will read what the teacher read back. What is great about this method is that students are all together in a group so they aren’t really hearing individuals and their reading. Students can also notice how to pronounce a word because the teacher said it first. I always coach my students to follow along as I read it and notice words so they can pronounce it later. It is a fantastic opportunity for reading practice and to discuss fluency, pace, and expression. I also circulate my classroom as students read it back watching each student. I have seen some children think they can trick me by moving their lips and “seem” like they are reading. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for us) they aren’t good actors- so you’ll likely catch them quick. That becomes a private conversation later. This method can be faded out as the class grows in their reading skills.
Choral Reading– This is basically the same as echo reading, but instead of reading it first, you’ll simply read it together. (Although I have first given the class an opportunity to read the passage silently to themselves before I begin.) I usually tell students to keep their voice with mine and then read at a moderate pace. This is great for those students who read a bit too fast.
Cloze Reading- This is actually one of my favorite methods. It’s just fun. I use this when I’m a bit low on time. In this method, the teacher reads the selection while students follow along. Periodically, as reading, the teacher will stop and the students will fill in the “deleted” word. I make sure that when I am reading I always pause on the meaningful words for students to fill in. How often you do it is up to you.
Passage Reading– Break students up into small groups and have them take individual turns. Circulate to make sure all students are following along, on task, and doing as they should. Randomly say, “Switch” and have the person on their right or left read next. Be sure to vary the amount read.
Silent Reading– Before students begin reading, pose a prereading question. Have students then silently read a certain amount. If they finish before everyone else is done, they should reread. During this time you can circulate the room and have individuals whisper read to you. Then pose your question again for answers.
Partner Reading– Have students work in pairs reading together at the same time or whisper read while taking turns. I have also had students read cloze reading style in pairs. Again, circulate and listen in on the groups. I would have students alternate by page or time. If it’s informational text, alternate by paragraph.
Triad Reading– I utilize this method when I have some low students. I assign roles: partner 1, partner 2, and partner 3. Partner 1 is always my high reader. He or she will read the material while the other two partners read it silently. Then Partner 1 says “Me or We?” and the other two decide if they want to follow along again silently, or read with partner 1. I don’t always do this and I switch it up occasionally so it’s not always the same students following along. I also make sure that if I’m doing this method, it’s everyone in the class at the same time.
Some of these methods work better than others. Some of them are a bit more difficult to hold students accountable, but the point of it is that you are mixing it up while providing more reading practice for ALL students – whether silently following along or reading aloud for fluency – and you are covering that much needed material!
One final note: At the beginning of the year, coach students to understand how to work in partnerships and assist their partner. I do this every year because honestly, it drives me nuts when a child is trying to process a word and about three or four kids are all jumping in telling him the word within 20 microseconds. Just give him a chance – he’ll get it! So we talk about how important it is to give wait time during reading practice, and then coach a student to figure it out.