Tips for Reading

girl readingSay Good-bye to Round Robin Reading.

What is Round Robin Reading?

Round Robin Reading is defined in The Literacy Dictionary as “the outmoded practice of calling on students to read orally one after the other.”

Timothy Rasinski, well-known literacy expert, claims that this method of reading instruction is problematic in eight ways:

  1. It provides students with an inaccurate view of reading.
  2. It can potentionally can cause faulty reading habits instead of effective reading strategies.
  3. It can cause unnecessary subvocalization.
  4. It can cause innatentive behaviors, leading to discipline problems.
  5. It can work against all students developing to their full potential.
  6. It consumes valuable classroom time that could be spent on other meaningful activities.
  7. It can be a source of anxiety and embarrassment for students.
  8. It can hampler listening comprehension.

Want some alternative ideas?

 In their book, Good-Bye Round Robin: 25 Effective Oral Reading Strategies, Opitz and Rasinsky discuss alternative strategies for delivering reading instruction. If you are interested in reading this book, it is available for check-out.

Schedule a model lesson or a planning session to help you refine your guided reading small group instruction.

girl readingUse flexible grouping.

If we are differentiating for our students, then we need to utilize varied forms of grouping. There should be a balance of grouping you use with your students. The kind of grouping you use should be selected based on the purpose of the grouping and your assessment information.

For example, guided reading groups will need to be based on ability (their reading level). Skill groups, on the other hand, will need to be formed for students needing guided practice applying and specific skill.  Likewise, the groups you form one day in shared reading may be small cooperative groups, while another day you choose to have them use their shoulder buddy or partner. Still yet, you may use other kinds of grouping for your learning centers or stations.

The idea is that groups are fluid, based on the needs of the learners and the purpose of the group.

Depending on the purpose of the group, you can group students:

  • based on reading levels
  • based on skill or strategy
  • in small groups
  • in pairs

Bottom line is that the more intentional we are with our groupings, the more effective that group time will be spent.

girl readingMake independent reading time an effective use of time.

  1.  Give students a comprehension strategy to apply during reading.
  2. Then give them a task to hold them responsible for applying it.

For example:

  1. Comprehension Strategy – Visualize
  2. Application Task – Draw a picture of what you visualized in the story.

Another example:

  1. Comprehension Strategy - Inference
  2. Application Task – Copy the text that helped you infer something. Then tell what you were able to infer.

One more example:

  1. Comprehension Strategy - Asking questions
  2. Application Task – Keep a list of questions you have during reading.

Keep student responses in reading logs.

  • great examples of writing to learn
  • good documentation of learning

Allow students to choose their texts based on their own interests and reading levels.

  1. Use a leveling system in your class library.
  2. Group books according to theme and interests.
  3. Use lexile levels when checking out books in the library.
  4. Teach students how to pick out just right books.

  Encourage repeated readings with familiar texts for those who need fluency practice.

girl readingPlan intentionally for vocabulary instruction.

Effective vocabulary instruction should provide word learning opportunities through:

  • Wide reading
  • High-quality oral language opportunities
  • Promotion of word consiousness
  • Explicit instruction of specific words
  • Modeling, support, and independent practice with word learning strategies

Ways to encourage new vocabulary acquisition:

  • Be word detectives.
  • Be word collectors.
  • Keep a word wall.
  • Keep individual word walls.
  • Keep individual picture dictionaries.
  • Be on the lookout for “Super Words.” (words with x number of letters)
  • Draw the words’ meanings.
  • Use the words orally and in writing.
  • Act out the words.
  • Web the words.
  • Read literature using the words.
  • Read literature about collecting words (example: Donivan’s Word Jar, by Monalisa Degross)
  • Integrate vocabulary instruction into the content areas.

girl readingUse Literacy Centers

Literacy Centers:

  • allow teachers to engage in explicit, focused, guided reading or skills groups without interruption;
  • provide opportunities for independent practice of literacy skills;
  • facilitate one-on-one instruction, observation, and evaluation of student progress;
  • elicit students’ exploration, application, understanding, and extension of skills and strategies;
  • develop student responsibility for constructing, practicing, and recording new  knowledge;
  • cover a wide range of skill levels, learning styles, and interests; and
  • facilitate the development of self-monitoring, problem-solving and collaboration.

Establish and Communicate Center Objectives

Developing literacy centers should be a well thought-out process, one that addresses state literacy standards and the objectives of the classroom teacher.

 Students in literacy centers should:

  • be actively involved and focused;
  • understand what is expected;
  • learn to manage materials and be held accountable for tasks;
  • be able to work cooperatively and independently;
  • practice skills and strategies that are developmentally appropriate and based on ongoing assessment and teacher observation;
  • have the opportunity to work on differentiated instructional tasks;
  • focused on meaningful extensions of learning that are focused on literacy.

Get Organized!

A well-organized literacy center system should have the following components:

  • signs and/or labels for each center;
  • preparation time;        
  • task board or work board to designate center rotation and assignments;
  • explicit, illustrated directions;
  • adequate storage and classroom space (shelves, tubs, cubbies, carts, Ziplock bags, baskets, etc.);
  • established routines for retrieval and storage;
  • materials that address learning styles and abilities (differentiated instruction!)
  • signals for clean-up;
  • accountability;
  • modeling by the teacher; and
  • choice!

Hold Students Accountable

Students will:

  • be respectful of the sanctity of the guided reading group;
  • not interrupt the learning environment or be disruptive;
  • attempt to problem solve and work independently before seeking assistance;
  • respect the materials in the centers and realize that “if you abuse it, you lose it” is the standard rule;
  • be held accountable for their time in the center;
  • stay focused and on task for the duration of the center time;
  • be responsible for all materials that they use in the center; and
  • be ready to reflect and share their discoveries with others.

Balance the Five Components of Reading

Avoid Busy Work and Worksheets.

Keep it Simple!


Best Practices in Reading

Five Components of Reading

Related Links www.

The Florida Center for Reading Research

 Best Practices