Round-robin reading – every student taking turns reading aloud from a passage – has been something of a time-honoured tradition in schools. But in a rare act of unanimity, reading experts agree that this practice has never done anything to make any student a better reader – and has turned a lot of kids off reading entirely.
The big problem is that there simply isn’t much authentic reading going on during the round-robin experience. What are the students who aren’t on the spot doing? They’re likely to be reading ahead, counting paragraphs, or merely daydreaming. Even those who want to follow along may very well have trouble doing so, because one person’s silent reading rate rarely matches another person’s oral reading rate. Following the print while someone else reads can actually interfere with one’s own fluency. As for the individual who’s doing the reading, he or she is likely to be focusing on sounding good rather than attending to what the text is all about. All the things we teach readers to do—make connections, pause and reflect, engage in self-talk, go back and reread—are lost in the process.
In fact, literacy researcher Richard Allington suggests that students beyond Grade 2 shouldn’t be doing much oral reading at all. So how do we build fluency? Try Readers Theater! Check out the HIP Teacher Website for more information and a free script based on the popular novel Ghost House.