Elementary teachers know they must promote literacy in their classrooms. Students that read at or above their grade level are better equipped to handle academic demands than other kids that may struggle with reading. So, it’s vital for teachers to learn about successful reading strategies and how to implement them.
Easier said than done, right? Many of today’s kids seem less interested in reading and more excited about electronic entertainment and instant information quickly gleaned from a browser search. However, one aspect of childhood that never seems to fade is that kids copy each other’s behavior. Consider all the different social interactions that elementary students encounter each day, from finding their way to their classrooms every morning, to learning each day’s routine and navigating the lunchroom and playground processes.
In large part, kids use these situations to pick up on countless social and behavioral cues that end up helping them fit in with their peers. Why not use this concept to guide your students toward activities that will encourage them to read together and be inspired by each other?
Partner reading may be the answer and it’s a popular literacy strategy in elementary schools. Not only is partner reading easy to implement, but there are many variations that make this plan something you can return to several times throughout the year.
To get started, find a day to set aside free reading time in your classroom. Pair up the kids or allow them to form small groups. Each child can choose a book or they can pick one as a group. Students will then need some direction and this is where those variations come in. Check out the following activities that can accompany partner reading:
- Assign one student in each group to read aloud. This may sound too simple, but kids can improve their literacy just by listening to others read to them.
- Suggest conversation starters. Have kids to read a few pages as a group and then stop to ask each other questions like “Can you explain this part?,” “I agree with this character; what do you think?,” “I bet this will happen, do you?,” etc.
- Check Pinterest for a “Roll & Retell” poster. This is a helpful resource that displays questions to ask about a book with a dice value next to the question. Kids partner up with a book, roll the dice and ask each other the questions that match up to the number rolled.
Partner reading can be a valuable literacy tool for many reasons. Kids practice fluency when reading aloud to each other and they can inspire each other to try new books plus inform their classmates about a favorite book series or author. In addition, the group discussions can help kids make connections to the text and demonstrate reading comprehension. Face-to-face conversations are also a benefit, as this kind of communication practice can establish positive social skills that carry over to adulthood.
Make literacy a priority in your classroom and think about partner reading activities. Directing kids to practice reading and comprehension with each other can have lasting academic benefits.