Saturday, January 9, 2010

BEST Practices: Who KILLED Round-Robin Reading?

Hello there,

Are you tiring of these round-robin reading (RRR) posts? I'll wager that this will be the last of the series on this site! There is just a lot to say about this poor practice. The last post reviewed 2 instructional strategies that could AND should replace RRR: Teacher read-alouds and think-alouds/think-alongs.

After I finished posting that last installment, I started thinking about the last teacher to read aloud to me: Mrs. Hanks, my 6th grade teacher. Right after lunch, we slid into our desks, all hot and sweaty from chasing around the playground. To transition us from playing to learning, she read novels to us. I vividly remember one book was Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the little lady who, according to Abraham Lincoln, started the Civil War.

The other novel was a mystery set in Quebec, Canada. I can't remember the title of that book, but I remember being riveted to every word Mrs. Hanks read. I loved listening to her and was among those students who always urged her to KEEP READING!

Today's post will focus upon paired or buddy reading. Again, teachers need to decide what the purpose of this activity is. The experience provides students opportunities to practice fluency and can include timed readings where one partner reads while the other records the number of words read in the allotted time. It's also an occasion where peers can practice echo reading, although language arts and other content teachers may see these are both tasks that should take place in a reading class because it goes beyond the scope of learning content.

Paired partners/buddy reading, however, does have a place in content classes. Perhaps you have problems with students failing to read the assigned pages even when you give them time to read in class. By partnering up students and giving them "during reading" work, the chances that students will read AND understand the assignment increase.

For example, a teacher assigns 2 or 3 pages of a text book, dividing the pages into 4 to 6 sections. Students decide who will be Reader 1 and who will be Reader 2. Next, the teacher provides a list of tasks to perform after each section. Here are a few ideas:
  1. Reciprocal Teaching:
    1. After Reader 1 finishes his section, Reader 2 will ask any questions that came to his mind, and the two can discuss the answers.
    2. After Reader 2 finishes reading, Reader 1 will predict what might be covered next and discuss which text clues helped him form his prediction..
    3. When Reader 1 finishes the 3rd secion, both readers will confirm or reject the earlier prediction. Reader 2 will then clarify how he worked through any confusing sentences, words, or concepts found in the text.
    4. When Reader 2 finishes the final section, Reader 1 will summarize what was read in that section. The 2 readers may create a summary of the entire assignment if time allows.
  2. Question/Answer Relationship (QAR):
    1. After Reader 1 reads, Reader 2 writes up a literal question that can be found "right there"  in the text.
    2. After Reader 2's turn, Reader 1 creates a more complex question where the complete answer is found by "thinking and searching" the text to find parts of the answer in more than one place.
    3. When Reader 1 finishes reading her paragraphs, Reader 2 writes up a question that requires the reader to "read between the lines" or make an inference. This question is named "author and me" because students must look for clues from the author and fill in the gaps with her own background knowledge
    4. When Reader 2 completes her assigned reading, Reader 1 writes up a question that requires the reader to think outside of the text. For example, the text may be about taking risks, and so the questions might center on what risks the reader would be willing to take to get what she wanted. This is often an opinion question, and the answer is found "on my own." 
Learning activities other than these two can be incorporated into paired partner readings, or by asking buddies to address just one part of either framework rather than require all questions. Reading together, followed by conversations, pulls in those students who do not regularly participate in whole group discussions. It is important, however, to pair up the right students. Do NOT pair lowest readers with highest, as that partnership can be embarrassing for one and frustrating for the other. Assigning students to others whose reading levels are a LITTLE above the other readers' is the ideal situation. Mixing up the partnerships on occasion is a good idea, too.

Another worthy concern is about the noise level. It takes a lot of instruction and practice in  "routines and procedures" to teach middle and high school students the protocol of paired partner reading. When classrooms are small and students are big AND numerous, it seems like an impossible task. I do think this practice is important enough, however, to find a way to use it. Make arrangements with the media coordinator to allow students to sit in pairs around the center with sufficient room between duos so that they won't disturb each other. Or find another roomy area to adopt on pair reading days.

Wherever the class is, the teacher must roam about, eavesdropping on conversations, even taking notes on and about the discussions. Plus, you must include some type of accountability and assessment tool - an exit slip, a template for recording their questions or answers, etc.

I know I promised this would be the last posting on this topic, but today's entry is LONG, so I feel I should end now, and write up the final idea for next time. You can pick and choose what you want to read anyway, so you don't really mind, do you?

Bye for now!
Renae - and the question remains? Who killed Round-Robin Reading?

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