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Teaching Tip: Partner Reading

Michele Dufresne

Partner Reading

This month, I am sharing tips for getting a successful start to your school year. My first tip focused on getting assessments done early so you can get going on reading instruction. Last week's tip centered around making learning easy for your students. This week, I am promoting the idea of partner reading.

You don't have to be the only teacher in your classroom. The students in your room can be your assistants. And the students helping you teach can get as much out of the experience as the ones being taught.

One of my favorite literacy routines is partner reading (if you use the Daily Five you might call this 'read to someone'). Students take turns reading to each other. I like to set them up with a partner who is at a different level and encourage the partners to help each other.

To make this work well, every student in the classroom will need a book box and a collection of books he or she can read fairly well. I have seen teachers use magazine boxes, shoe boxes or bins for the book boxes. I prefer sturdy bins that provide enough space that a student can see into the box and easily select books from it.

To get this going at the beginning of the year, I read a bunch of easy books to the whole class and then ask who wants them for their book box. (I like to have multiple copies of the book so I can hand it out to several students.) After a Guided Reading lesson, the students put their new books in the box. They need enough books that eventually they have 15-20 minutes worth of reading material in their boxes.

Teach the students to listen to each other and to prompt for strategies. You can give them a list of strategies to prompt for that they keep in their book boxes. Click here to find the Partner Reading Strategies on our Free Teaching Tools page. You can also share these bookmarks with your students. Many times, I have seen a student who is a beginner reader prompt a more advanced reader very helpfully. If a student is listening and his or her partner makes an error, he or she might say, "Did that make sense?" When a beginning reader strugglers with a word, the advanced reader might say, "Check the picture."

While all your readers are listening and helping each other, you are now free to do a Guided Reading lesson or work one-on-one with a student.

Next week I'll share my final tip for September: setting up students with a reading routine.

Happy reading!

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books  early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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