Shatter outdated reading approaches with these ideas

Round robin reading and its variations have managed to keep a foothold in classrooms for hundreds of years. It’s one of the least effective strategies for helping students decode words and comprehend text, yet more than half of the teachers in the United States use it regularly.

In round robin reading, one child reads a paragraph or a page from a common text. When the student finishes, the next student picks up where the previous student left off. The process continues until every student has read aloud or the class completes the text.

The round robin reading curse

Round robin reading places the focus on the oral fluency of the student selected to read aloud. The other students are supposed to follow along. However, if the class is reading a lengthy text with multiple paragraphs, most students can predict how long it will take until it’s their turn to read.

Popcorn reading is similar to round robin reading, but it’s slightly less predictable. The student who is reading can call on a peer to read. Catching classmates off guard becomes the focus. Automaticity, fluency, and comprehension take a back seat to create “gotchas.”

Not surprisingly, many students can’t recall what they read. Poor readers despise the round robin reading game because it stigmatizes them and accentuates their skill.

The variations on this technique, like using popsicle sticks to call on readers, aren’t any better.

Better reading approaches to try this week

Partner reading

This reading strategy pairs readers. The teacher assigns a good reader to work with a struggling reader. The two readers read a common text aloud, matching their pace to each other, so the result is similar to reading in stereo.

Choral reading

Similar to partner reading, choral reading brings several readers together in an oral reading activity. Students pre-read the selected text, practice it independently, and come together to read it chorally. Choral reading is an excellent choice for broadening reading experiences with a variety of genres.

Echo reading

If you have students who struggle with reading, it’s time to introduce echo reading. Using a common text, assign a student to be the reader leader. You can also take this role. The reader leader reads a long phrase or sentence out loud, and the echo reader mimics the pronunciation and expression. Use echo reading to teach unfamiliar words.

Modeled reading

Also called teacher-read-aloud, modeled reading illustrates the power of the written word when spoken aloud. The teacher reads the text with emotion, and students follow along in their texts. The benefits of modeled reading include helping students build their vocabulary, understand story structure, and develop fluency. Modeled reading also motivates readers.

Oscar performance reading

Add a little fun to reading in class by asking your students to read the text as a character, real or imagined. Have them be dramatic, use hand gestures, and over emote. Teacher Chris Bifle calls this the Crazy Professor Reading Game.

If you’re still using round robin and popcorn reading strategies in your classroom, it’s time to try something new and more effective.

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