Monday, May 16, 2016

just say no to round robin reading

A literacy practice that I would love to see vanish from classrooms is round robin reading (RRR). Or popcorn reading. Or snake reading. Or popsicle stick reading. Same idea, different names. One does not need to look far to find criticism of this practice and yet I see it perpetuated in classrooms all over the place.

And I get why teachers use it. They think it helps with fluency. They think children enjoy it. They think it helps with classroom management.

BUT, and this is important, there is NO research to support this practice in schools. Research on the impact of round robin reading overwhelmingly shows its negative impact on word recognition, fluency, and comprehension, as well as engagement and motivation. Students terrified of reading struggle through being put on the spot. Reading only a few sentences or paragraphs at a time does not benefit fluency. And because students are only responsible for reading a small portion, their comprehension is limited to that portion, and often they are so worried about reading, they cannot be metacognitive about their reading enough during the reading to even comprehend that part.

To be clear, oral reading practice is essential for building fluency, it is just that RRR is not an effective structure to provide that practice (it undermines fluency instead). Need more resources? See some articles here and here to discuss the issues around RRR.

Ok, so your next question is what to do instead, right? Luckily, there are a number of alternatives to RRR. In fact, there is an entire book written by fluency experts Michael Opitz and Timothy Rasinski, Good-bye Round Robin: 25 Effective Oral Reading Strategies. Opitz and Rasinski provide a chapter on the importance of oral reading and reasons to move away from RRR. The majority of the book, though, is descriptions of practices that support oral reading and language development. Practices described in the book, like choral reading, readers theater, and paired reading, have substantial research to support these practices to develop fluency.

Looking for more ideas? Here are two web resources from Edutopia and Cult of Pedagogy to provide more ideas.

What do you do instead of round robin reading?


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