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Alternatives to Round Robin Reading

Despite a great deal of research demonstrating how negative the round robin reading strategy can be, teachers are still using it in their classrooms. Round robin reading is when teachers have individual students read aloud from a text given to each member of the class. Each student reads a small portion of the text aloud to the class and then a new reader is chosen. Teachers feel that this strategy helps them cover the following skills: decoding, fluency, vocabulary development, text comprehension and learner engagement.

However, studies suggest that because students are only required to read a very brief portion of the text, they have little opportunity for fluency or word recognition. In fact, since other students tend to jump in when the reader comes to a difficult or unknown word, the reader never has the chance to figure it out independently. Also, since students are not reading the text in whole, they tend to lose fluency. Readers end up focusing their attention on brief passages and leave the comprehension for other texts. None of these actions contributes to engagement or improved comprehension.

What Are Some Reading Strategies That Work?

Instead of using a strategy like round robin reading, teachers can engage students much better through a variety of other reading strategies:

  • Choral Reading: Students and teachers read a passage in unison.
  • Partner Reading: Students alternate reading passages to each other.
  • Pals Reading: Weaker students are paired with stronger students to assist each other.
  • Silent Reading: Students are given time to read books at appropriate reading levels.
  • Teacher reads aloud.
  • Echo Reading: Teacher reads a passage and students repeat what the teacher just read.

Guided and Self-Sustained Reading Have Replaced Round Robin Reading

What are some reading strategies that work? One teaching strategy that teachers use now is called guided reading. Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades by Fountas and Pinnell is a great resource for this strategy. Another reading strategy many teachers use is self-sustained reading, where students choose books that are a good fit for them and read them independently. Often, teachers ask them to discuss what they read or write about it in reading journals.

Once teachers learn from evidence-based research that round robin reading does not help students learn to read effectively, they need to move on to new ways of teaching reading. Often, it takes just a few small group lessons to see how much more relaxed students become in smaller group settings. Relaxed children can learn better and faster than students who are not.

Learn more about the UTA online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction — Literacy Studies program.


Edutopia: 11 Alternatives to “Round Robin” (and “Popcorn”) Reading

Literacy Daily: What’s Really Wrong With Round Robin Reading?

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