Partner reading is an important Must-Do in our opinion. But just like any activity, partner reading needs to be managed well or it may not go quite as planned.
1. Know why your students are partner reading, and then make sure THEY know why it’s important.
Take some time to really consider what you want your readers to learn from partner reading, and then be sure to tell them.
So here are 5 simple tips for managing partner reading:
(Don’t miss the FREE editable partner reading anchor chart at the bottom!)
What are their reading goals at this time? Are some students working on fluency? Sight word automaticity? Comprehension or retell? These goals will change throughout the year, but make sure they know what their goals are. When students know their goals and know strategies for reaching them, they are more likely to focus on those goals when working independently. Take a minute after testing each student to discuss their goal(s) for the next 2 weeks. Have students suggest strategies and guide them in picking one or 2 strategies that they can use at home and in class when reading independently.
2. You choose the reading partners.
With a targeted approach to teaching reading, you are the one who chooses appropriate pairs of readers. You choose the leveled books for them to read, and you choose how the readers work together.
There will be other times in the day when they can choose their books and their partners. But during partner reading, we believe the teacher needs to make this decision so the activity is targeted and effective.
Choosing partners is not an easy task. You may want to consider:
- partners that can work well together
- one partner at a slightly higher reading level than the other (Suggestion: List your students from lowest reading level to highest. Cut the list in half so you now have 2 lists. Select pairs from their own lists.)
- pairing special needs students with someone who is able to support those needs
3. Model, model, and the model some more how you want them to partner read.
Be explicit. Tell them and show them:
- where to find their books
- where to sit
- how to sit
- how to hold the books
- how to point to the words
- how loudly to read
- when to stop the reader
- what to focus on (goals)
- and why we do it that way.
Review these expectations often, perhaps during class meetings. Have students model for the class. Discuss possible problems and solutions students may encounter when partner reading.
When students know why they are doing something, they are more likely to have buy-in.
3. Start slowly and practice.
You might want to practice for a week before having students partner read during guided reading. Walk around and guide, support, reinforce, etc. You will know when they are ready.
Start with 5 minutes of partner reading and increase gradually up to 15 minutes as the year progresses (or longer for older students). As the year goes on, review your expectations with your readers regularly model as needed, and praise them for a job well done!
5. Post a partner reading anchor chart.
Refer to it often. If you don’t have one, I have a FREE editable partner reading anchor chart for you to grab below. Just download and open in PowerPoint. It is pre-filled with suggested partner reading strategies. Feel free to edit in PowerPoint. Select the fonts and change the text to fit your needs!