**If you are in a bit of a teaching slump, click here for fun steps to getting out of it (it happens to all of us).**
Many new teachers rely solely on popcorn reading in their classroom. Science teachers, math teachers, English teachers. Everyone does it.
In case you aren’t familiar with this term, popcorn reading is when a student reads a passage of text aloud to the class while everyone else
pretends to read along. When the student has finished reading, they choose another student to read. It’s also known as Round Robin Reading.
Students often ask for this activity in my class. They love the chance to call each other out. If there is a student who is known for zoning out, they call their name and hope they aren’t paying attention. Students also love to call on their friends. I once had a class where not a single girl was called on to read because the boys kept calling on each other.
If the kids ask for it, why shouldn’t we use this reading strategy?
1). It can create reading anxiety. Students who aren’t strong readers dread being called on. They may stumble through the text and then feel inferior to those with better fluency.
2). Many students pretend to follow along. When it is someone else’s turn to read, they easily tune out and miss important parts of the text.
3). Hinders fluency, comprehension, and love for reading. When students read aloud poorly, the rest of the class may begin to internalize poor reading and when the teacher corrects, fluency and comprehension are lost.
4). Typically, students do very little comprehending when engaging in this type of read-aloud. They wait passively for the teacher to explain the text to them.
5). This lacks differentiation. This type of reading activity asks for all students to engage in the same task without any regard to their reading level or reading security.
So what should you do instead? Although there are many others, these are some of my favorite reading activities to use in the classroom.
1). Silent reading. I teach juniors. It’s very important to me that my kids can read a text independently and decode its meaning. Once students have had a chance to read, I’ll let them discuss with a partner and then ask questions.
2). Fill-in-the-blank reading (called Cloze reading). Sometimes, I’ll read a section of text aloud and pause occasionally. When I pause, students say the next word in unison. This allows me to model many things, such as my thinking process, fluency, and the decoding process, but it also keeps kids engaged and helps to keep them from staring out the window.
3). Partner reading. There are a couple of different ways to do this. 1). Pair students together who are at the same reading level and have them take turns reading. This allows students practice reading aloud (increase fluency) without damaging another student’s fluency and comprehension. 2). Pair a stronger student with a developing student and have them read aloud together. This allows the developing student to keep pace with a stronger student. I’ve seen many students benefit from reading aloud with a strong reader.
4). Jigsaw Reading. For very long pieces, I may have students divide and conquer. I’ll separate the class into 4-6 groups (depending on size of class) and assign each group a different section of the text. The groups will have an organizer to fill out together (I have rolling white boards, so I may have them complete the work on the white board so I can easily see their thinking). When done, groups present to the rest of the class.
5). Reader’s Theater. I love Reader’s Theater as a means to increase fluency and comprehension. You can find scripts for most text. Students are encouraged to practice reading aloud beforehand as well as ensure they really understand the text’s meaning.
There are so many other types of reading activities. I’d love for you to share your favorite. 🙂