Sunday, January 10, 2010

BEST Practices: LAST Call for Round-Robin Reading!

Dear Readers,

Part 3 of this series asked the question "who killed round-robin reading?". The question rises from a similar query posed hundreds of years ago. "Who killed Cock Robin?" refers to Sir Robert Walpole, the first prime minister in Great Britain to occupy 10 Downing Street. The rhyme referred to Sir Robin's downfall, not his death, and has since been parodied to denote the demise of a plethora of programs, agendas, ambitions, etc. 

In that spirit, this series has attempted to build a case AGAINST round-robin reading and BUILD a case for other options: Teacher read-alouds, think alouds/alongs, and paired partner reading. Today, we'll examine guided reading as it might look in a secondary classroom.

In the elementary classroom, balanced literacy includes guided reading. While students rotate among centers created to emphasize comprehension strategies, writing to learn, word work, etc., teachers work with groups of children as they rotate. During this time, students will read aloud from their leveled books while the teacher assesses their progress in fluency, decoding, phonics, etc.

Observers can find a similar model in secondary settings, but I'll wager that most of those circumstances center on expensive programs like Scholastic's Read 180. Some teachers, however, have tried to create their own centers so students have the opportunity to participate in small-group instruction.  Such an undertaking is labor and time-intensive.

As I've contemplated this situation, I decided that incorporating a guided reading experience into a literature circle format might work without investing as much time and energy into the project.

There are so many resources to support teachers in bringing lit circles to their classrooms, but I haven't found one that incorporates guided reading. I don't think it would be all that hard. Again, lit circles require intense training in the associated protocol if we want the groups to function effectively. Once that's established, teachers should be able to move from group to group to work on the needed areas of development.

On occasion, groups could be organized according to reading level as determined by Lexile measurements. Teachers could differentiate instruction by moving among the groups to work with one group that might struggle with fluency issues and another with comprehension concerns. By the end of the hour or block, the teacher may have interacted with 3 to 6 groups.

Books could be either the same or diverse titles, and instruction would be adapted accordingly. Currently, 3 teachers in our district are helping me create lesson plans for advanced readers. While all students benefit from this model, teachers can support students' needs by varying novels or assignments.

I don't think I've ever blogged about literature circles, so perhaps I will do that during this month of 31 posts. If not, the guru of lit circles, Harvey Daniels is scheduled to present at Literacy Promise 2010 (Feb. 17-19), along with a dozen other OUTSTANDING literacy experts.

Before signing off, can you answer who killed round-robin reading? Not the sparrow or the owl; not the fly or the kite. Hopefully, the strong practices shared here will bring RRR to its end!

Best wishes,

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