Are you looking for more ways to build fluency? Try partner reading!
Partner reading (sometimes called buddy reading) is when students are paired up to read together.
How partner reading works
- Assign reading partners. Be careful not to pair students that are very different in ability. One recommended approach is to (privately, of course) make a numbered list of your students from most skilled to least skilled. Cut the list in half. Then assign the top of each list to the top of the other list. For example, in a class of 26, Reader 1 would be paired with reader 14, Reader 2 with Reader 15, etc.
- The teacher chooses the text or each pair chooses a book, poem, partner play, or other reading material.
- Students decide how they will read the text together: reading chorally, alternating pages, or reading by line (as in a partner play).
- As one student takes the role of reader, the other student is the listener/supporter. A Reading Rockets article calls these roles the player and the coach.
- The supporter’s role is to help find the place in the text, give appropriate prompts when the other student is stuck on a word, or simply give words after a reasonable pause.
- Students pause periodically to discuss what they’re reading.
Benefits of partner reading
Buddy reading can be an excellent alternative to the familiar “sustained silent reading,” because struggling students can get the support they need and are less likely to be off task.
Buddy reading is also a great alternative to round robin reading, because students read much more than they would if they were taking turns with the entire class.
When taught how, students can provide each other with feedback as they monitor comprehension.
The teacher’s role during partner reading
When you first introduce buddy reading, your role is to circulate and make sure everyone is on task. You may help students with a word that neither reader knows. You might resolve disputes, help a listener/supporter with their role, or simply listen in as children read.
Another important role is to evaluate student pairings. Is one reader doing all the work? How can you help that student be more of a coach? Maybe it’s best to assign new partners.
Please note: Eventually you may choose to move buddy reading to centers, where students will read while you’re meeting with small groups; wait to do this until your students have demonstrated that they can buddy read quietly and independently. If possible (I know your schedule is tight!), try to include buddy reading outside of centers at least 2-3 times a week so you can facilitate.
Partner reading in action
This video from the Institute of Education Sciences is worth a watch!
Tips for choosing reading material for buddy reading
- As noted in the video, instructional level text is appropriate for partner reading when the teacher is providing support. Don’t be afraid to provide support by first reading it to the class and/or reading it chorally as a whole group.
- When students are doing partner reading at centers, it would be best to use independent level text that students have read before. This is a great time to have students practice rereading decodable text, shared reading texts, poetry from their fluency development lessons, and other familiar text. At centers, it may work better to have students more closely matched in reading ability. Test it!
Partner Plays: Reader’s Theater Scripts for 2 Readers
When you purchase, you’ll get a set of 20 different plays in three levels each … a total of 60 scripts!
How to help students learn to do partner reading effectively
This is where we have to break the process down to its smallest pieces and teach each one. I wish we didn’t have to, but we do!
- Show students where in the room they may sit as they partner read.
- Show students how to sit “side by side” and “knee by knee.” Some teachers use EEKK: Elbow to elbow, knee to knee.
- Model how to help a reader with an unfamiliar word as well as how long to wait before offering support.
- Demonstrate what is appropriate discussion and what would be considered off topic.
- Provide examples of discussion starters so students understand how to talk about the book during and after reading.
Will you do partner reading with your students?
Stay tuned for the last post in our fluency series!
YOU’LL LOVE THE FLUENCY RESOURCES IN THE MEMBERSHIP!Our membership includes fluency pyramids, fluency poems, partner plays, and so much more!
Kuhn, M. & Levy, L. (2015). Developing fluent readers. The Guilford Press.
Rasinski, T. (2010). The fluent reader. Scholastic.
Reading Rockets. (n.d.) Partner reading. https://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/partner_reading