What is Whisper Reading?
Whisper reading is a whole group and/or guided reading strategy where students are quietly reading text, without disturbing neighbors, while the teacher listens to each reader briefly, giving feedback, then moving on to the next. I have found whisper reading to be a highly effective strategy for getting all of my young readers to be actively engaged in the text while I quickly monitor the reading progress of each reader. We are all looking for the most effective strategies for building fluency, accuracy and comprehension. Whisper reading allows the teacher to quickly monitor their fluency and accuracy while giving them all a chance to explore the meaning of the text.
How is Whisper Reading Implemented?
After introducing vocabulary, tricky words, sight words, and background information on the text, students are invited to explore the text on their own while the teacher briefly listens to each reader. 15-30 seconds (or more if time allows) is spent listening to each reader with few if any teacher voice interruptions. If needed, a verbal prompt such as “try that again” or “sound” to get the student to sound out a word again when mistakes are made or when a student hesitates for more than 3 seconds. If phrase reading has been an introduced skill, a prompt such as “phrase” may be used to encourage more fluent phrase reading while pointing to the phrase. I keep in mind each student’s current reading needs and target those skills as I listen. A visual prompt with pointing can also be used to allow the student to make corrections. It is important however, to allow students to freely read and interrupt them as little as possible. Our goal is to guide, but allow for independence and self-correction, because that’s what good readers do!
Why Whisper Read?
Whisper reading has many benefits for both the teacher and young readers:
- It allows young readers to explore the text alone, to build confidence prior to reading aloud.
- It maximizes practice time of new reading skills.
- It allows for more repeated readings of text to increase fluency and accuracy.
- It allows for greater comprehension than reading aloud for many students.
- It keeps all students actively engaged in the text, rather than waiting their turn to read during round robin reading, for example.
- It allows the student to self-monitor and self-correct and learn independence as they read.
- It allows the teacher to quickly assess and monitor each student and take note of individual needs every day.
- It allows the teacher to give each student quick feedback on their reading every day.
- It allows the teacher to assist and support students as they respond to text in varying ways.
- It is a stepping stone to silent reading!
In my opinion, whisper reading is a must-do everyday during both whole group reading time and during guided reading. Oh my goodness, I learn so much about each reader in the 15-30 seconds of listening and prompting 2 times a day!
Check out my Targeted Guided Reading Blog Post to learn more about other effective strategies for teaching guided reading!
Let me know your thoughts!
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