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Round-Robin Reading Rethought

Miss Circle's first impression is pleasure as she looks over her reading group to Tim, Bess, Jody, and Phil, eyes riveted on their books, as Gloria reads her paragraph in turn. Only Gail and Paul appear not to be paying attention. When Gail's turn comes, Miss Circle is indeed correct, Gail was not paying attention and has lost her place. So with a teacherly reprimand she points out the place and asks Paul to read instead. Miss Circle's pleasure gives way to an uncomfortable realization: her children are not accomplishing what she is expecting. She observes that Jody is rehearsing her paragraph in preparation to perform. Tim, the most capable reader in the group, is reading ahead because he is interested in the story and impatient to read at his own rate. Bess is following along, characteristically monitoring errors of other readers, ready to pounce if given a chance to correct someone. Only Phil appears to have been obediently following along with the other readers, but then is he a bit bored? Miss Circle wonders if she is really accomplishing much in her group today or if she is just wasting time and unintentionally encouraging negative reading attitudes and habits.

Miss Circle will have better success if she considers several changes. There is a better use for the important practice of oral reading. She needs to set a purpose for the reading, introduce a topic, or present a conflict to be resolved.

She should make a habit of allowing her students to pre-read the passage silently before reading orally. When given a new passage her readers have two tasks. One, to process the printed words, and two, to process the meaning. Pre-reading allows the two tasks to be done but does not require their simultaneous performance. Silent reading should always precede oral reading.

Miss Circle may also consider that reading entire stories is not the best use of her reading instructional time. She may substitute oral reading of

"the part you liked best. Tell us why."
"the part of the story that was the funniest/saddest/most exciting."
"...the way you think the character said it."
"the part of the story where you first suspected what would happen."
"the words that show..."

Choosing selections will give practice at reading and will involve and interest students. This practice encourages them to think, relating what they already know with what they read. This improves comprehension and is regarded as more purposeful reading.

Oral reading may be used to provide pleasure either to the reader himself or more ideally to an audience. Miss Circle may teach an important lesson in oral reading by modeling how to read expressively, clearly, and at a suitable pace. Students of all ages enjoy being read to and learn how oral reading should sound to an audience.

She may use oral reading to provide opportunities to perform for an audience who will listen rather than follow along in books of their own. Choral reading makes good use of oral reading time and even becomes comfortable to reluctant readers who gain confidence by repeated readings in a safe group. Scripture, poems, favorite literature selections, plays, skits, radio scripts, jokes and riddles are naturals for oral reading and may be created and interpreted by the children themselves. Also, brief oral reports, letters, invitations, and announcements may be presented by oral readers.

Oral reading may be used effectively in several settings. Small groups and whole classes are most common. An exciting variation in the latter is to loan an upper-grade student to a lower-grade student where he may entertain and model good reading.

Reading alternately with a buddy may work well for certain students who are self-conscious about their own reading or impatient with those who read slower than themselves.

Some readers benefit from reading to a tape recorder to prepare a tape for others to listen to. This experience allows the student to monitor and correct what he considers to be errors or misinterpretations.

Oral reading should also have an important place in the home in family devotions, sharing a love for books, ministering to sick or aged relatives, and entertaining younger siblings. Miss Circle should encourage these activities whenever possible.

A good teacher will strive to use oral reading to enhance reading instructional growth in a classroom. Good reading habits and attitudes as well as comprehension will be the by-products of such activities. By eliminating round-robin reading Miss Circle has not eliminated oral reading, nor has she neglected the oral reading experiences needed by each of her students. She has only changed the way in which she calls for oral reading and has promoted better reading.

 by Connie Collins. Updated October 21, 2015.

© 2015