Friday, January 8, 2010

BEST Practices: Replacing Round-Robin Reading

Hi All!

It's Friday - WHEW! And most of you are hurrying down the halls and out the doors; heading for home and relief! Yesterday, I tried to "ruffle some feathers" about round-robin reading (RRR)! Seriously, this is a poor practice that needs to be replaced with better practices.

Choosing the best replacement plan depends upon your purpose for oral reading in your classrooms. To be honest, I incorporated RRR into my curriculum for classroom management purposes. Some days it didn't matter to me if my students were bored, drooling, or asleep as their peers labored over words in the paragraphs. I was just thrilled that they were quiet! NOT the best of purposes!

Part 1 of this blog mini-series also talked about a better way to assess for fluency. This post will share several practices that are better AND evidence-based.
  1. Read-Aloud/Think-Alouds
  2. Paired/Buddy Reading
  3. Guided Reading
Read-Aloud/Think-Alouds ~ Both teachers and non-teachers are sometimes surprised when they learn that many teachers still read aloud to their secondary students. I read a recent article in Education Week on this very topic that touted the benefits of such a practice, along with a warning not to overuse it.

Although there is little research on teachers reading aloud to secondary students, in 2006 Lettie K. Albright of Texas Women's University "summarized research showing that the practice builds middle school students’ knowledge in content areas, helps them have positive attitudes toward reading, and helps increase their reading fluency" (Reading Research and Instruction).

Listening to a teacher read smoothly and with expression serves as a model of fluent reading that students don't often hear from their peers, and that's bound to keep them more engaged. Furthermore, when the teacher stops reading and assigns his students to continue on silently, the dynamic voice of the teacher is often the one they keep hearing in their head as they read.

Teachers often read difficult texts aloud for a couple of different reasons. One is to help students understand what's being communicated. For example, a history teacher might orally read a primary source document and explain difficult words or concepts as she goes through the paragraphs.

A second, and I think a more powerful practice, is using the "think-aloud/along" procedure to model how we as teachers and proficient readers create meaning from the difficult document, novel, text book, etc. The link embedded in this paragraph defines and details the think-along procedure, and I suggest the same cautions: don't go on and on and on, or you'll encounter the sleeping and drooling student problem; don't overwhelm students by using a million and one strategies; don't expect them to grab hold of this right away; and practice BEFORE you think-aloud in front of your student!

After a FEW MINUTES of reading and thinking aloud, teachers should then ask students to try the same procedure by reading to a partner, stopping now and then to explain what he or she is thinking in terms of working out meaning. If classes are large, thus creating havoc when partners read and discuss, students can read silently and then have a "silent discussion".  (For additional information about how to use silent discussions/ written conversations, click HERE.)

Regardless of the choice, if teachers in all content areas incorporated think-alongs into their instruction and taught students how to monitor their own understanding in the same way, comprehension levels would rise. As is often the situation, kids don't always know what they don't know. Let's help them figure that out and then learn what to do to fill in the gaps.

Paired or Buddy Reading is the next topic! Until then, have a great day.


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