Alternatives to Round Robin Reading



1. Research doesn’t support round robin or “popcorn” reading. 

2. Students actually do less good reading work in the round robin or “popcorn” format.

3. It lacks differentiation. 

4. It does not build fluency and it slows reading rates.

5. It’s an outdated practice that needs to be replaced.

This INCLUDES pulling names on popsicle sticks for students to read aloud, too!  That must stop, as well.    

Read more here

Check out THIS page:  More Ideas for Alternatives!


All of the following methods are flexible.  You will find that a couple of methods can be used during one reading group or one whole class lesson.   For example, I often choral read with my struggling readers before they try to read the text independently.

Shared Reading:  Teacher reads aloud, modeling good fluency and expression, while students follow along in their own copy of the text.  Teacher frequently stops and models comprehension strategies, but not so frequently as to interfere with flow of the story.  With kindergartners, first, and second graders, the students can wear “witch fingers” as pointers, and point to each word in their own copy of the text.  These are available at most party stores during the Halloween season or eBay year round.

Choral Reading:  More than one student reads at a time.  The teacher may or may not choose to read with readers, depending on how much modeling is needed.  You can split into ‘this half’ and ‘that half’ of the reading group (or the class) to read at one time.  The point is to have several or many voices reading at once in order to pull along slower readers, and involve more than one reader in reading aloud at a time (and losing the others).  This also has a musical quality that is very attractive to students.  Students can also repeat sections as needed to build fluency and intonation.

Echo Reading:  This is wonderful for building fluency and expression.  The teacher reads part of the text with enthusiasm, expression, and fluency.  Students are then asked to read that same portion of text in the same way.  This can be done several times in a row or in several sections of the text.

Independent Silent Reading: Students read independently, but are assigned clear stopping and starting points, and a purpose for reading.  Follow this up with a discussion to assess comprehension.  While waiting for slower students to finish, students may respond in response journals, respond to prepared higher level questions, or complete other tasks, such as writing questions to ask classmates.  Faster readers could also reread the text.  With kindergartners, first, and second graders, students can read into whisper phones, so they can hear themselves read, without getting distracted by others.

Whisper Reading:  Beginning readers all read at once on their own, whisper reading at the reading group, so the teacher can listen in and intervene when necessary.

Reader’s Theatre:  Individuals are motivated to practice his/her parts to “perform.”  The Reading A-Z website has reader’s theatre selections in many guided reading levels.  Consider becoming a member!  Here are free Reader’s Theatre Scripts

Teacher Cloze Reading:  The teacher begins reading aloud while the students follow along closely. They are prepared to read when the teacher drops out of the reading on grade-level appropriate words or important words that students need to stress. This may include a word or two in every sentence. This method is often used in the intermediate grades with informational text.

Partner Reading:  This is two students reading with reciprocal teaching.  The teacher sets a purpose for reading, and the students are assigned a clear goal, a clear starting and stopping point, and what to do when finished reading.  A good idea is to have the students “Check for Understanding” after each page by telling who/what each page was about.  The teacher should assign each time if the reader states the “Check for Understanding” or the listener states the “Check for Understanding.”  ***To pair students in a whole class setting, research suggests to list the students in descending order from the most proficient reader to the reader who needs the most support.  In a class of 24, that would mean that the most proficient reader is #1 and the one who needs the most support is #24. Divide the class list in half, so that you have numbers 1–12 on one list, and numbers 13–24 on another.  Align the two lists, so that #1 is lined up with #13, #2 with #14, #3 with #15, and so on, until #12 is matched with #24.  With students matched in this way, in each pair, there will be a student who is capable of supporting the student with greater needs, but there will not be such a great difference between their proficiencies. The student with greater needs will still be able to be an active partner, and he/she will also be able to support the more proficient reader.

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies:  These strategies (PALS; e.g., Fuchs, Fuchs, & Burish, 2000) are a form of partner reading. Teachers assign partners to match higher and lower needs students. The partners engage in a series of turns reading, rereading, and retelling. Beyond first grade, PALS focuses on three activities to support fluency and comprehension: (1) partner reading, (2) paragraph shrinking, and (3) prediction relay. Working together in pairs, each partner takes the lead as Coach, alternating with the role of Reader. As in peer repeated reading, the reader reads aloud, and the coach listens and provides positive feedback on his or her reading. Together, the students work to ask questions as they read, shrink paragraphs (a form of summarizing), and relay their predictions (following the steps of predict, read, check, and summarize).  Watch this YouTube of it:  Peer Assisted Learning Strategies.


Timed Repeated Readings:  This is a long-standing instructional practice for monitoring students’ fluency development (Samuels, 1979). Students are placed in pairs and asked to read text of an instructional, or just above instructional, level. Students usually read passages of 50–100 words; a copy of each text being read is needed for each student. They should each have a copy of a repeated readings chart and a pencil; each pair should share a stopwatch.  First, students read the texts silently. Then, taking turns, one student reads the passage aloud, while the other student times the reading and marks errors. The student should read as quickly as he or she can, while maintaining appropriate expression. After a student reaches rate–accuracy goals for the passage or after a set number of readings (usually six), the student records the information on a chart, and the other student reads. These charts can be gathered weekly to monitor students’ growth. Teachers can meet with each student to review the charts and have the student read a brief text to confirm the measurements.

Peer Repeated Reading:  Peer repeated readings (Koskinen & Blum, 1986) is a practice very similar to timed repeated readings, but without the need for stopwatches. Students read a text that has been read in class previously. Again, using a short passage (50–100 words), the student pairs first read the text silently. Then, taking turns, the students read the text orally. After the first reading, the student who is reading assesses his or her own reading. After the second reading, the student again self-assesses, and the student who is listening comments on how the reading is improving (see Figure 9.2). Then the student reads a final time, self-assessing, and listening to his or her partner’s positive comments. Then the partners switch roles, with the new reader self-assessing his or her own first reading, and proceeding through the three readings of the text.

Fluency-Oriented Reading Instruction:   FORI (Stahl et al., 2003) was designed for reading and content area instruction in the primary grades. It involves students in repeatedly reading a selected text several times over the course of a week. The text is first read aloud by the teacher, with the students following along in their own copy. A discussion is held in order to direct attention to the importance of comprehension early on in the lessons. Over the next few days, the students echo-, choral-, and partner-read the text, and also take it home for additional practice as needed. These readings are followed by the extension activities that usually occur as part of the literacy curriculum.

Radio Reading   In radio reading (Greene, 1979; Opitz & Rasinksi, 1998; Searfoss, 1975), students are assigned segments of the text, which they are to practice reading. After they have practiced reading their section, they are to develop questions to ask their peers regarding that section. The following day, the students read their section aloud, as if they are radio announcers. Once their section is finished, they may ask their peers the questions they developed. If necessary, they may reread sections of their selection in order to help their classmates answer the questions. Although this may seem similar to round robin reading, it differs in one very specific way: Students are given time to practice their reading before they are asked to read in front of their peers.


Reciprocal Teaching:  Break students into groups of 4.  The purpose is to make reading techniques that good readers use visible to all students, to show and MODEL and DO what good readers do.  Students need to internalize that they need to do these things in their heads with everything they read.  Good readers use all of these steps, although they are not always visible:

  • Predictor (makes and revises predictions)
  • Clarifier (clarifies difficult points and vocabulary)
  • Questioner (clarifies points of uncertainty)
  • Summarizer

Teacher divides text up as he/she sees fit.  Students rotate roles.

Reciprocal Teaching Plus:  Reciprocal Teaching Plus models how students can read literally, inferentially, and critically, with guidance and feedback from their peers and their teacher (Ash, 2002).  This method was developed based on the reciprocal teaching activity (Palincsar & Brown, 1984). Reciprocal teaching is described above.  In the beginning, the teacher models reciprocal teaching with the students, demonstrating how to use the four parts of the strategy, and eventually moving students toward using the strategy in peer-led small groups or pairs. In these small groups or pairs, students read predesignated sections of text silently, stopping at designated stopping points and taking turns, leading a discussion that includes questioning, summarizing, clarifying, and predicting.  In addition to the four elements, reciprocal teaching plus asks students to address a fifth element, the critical evaluation of a text, identifying the author’s perspective and analyzing what points of view are left out of the current text.  Prompts that teachers can use to help students with the fifth element—analyzing the perspective of the author and text—include:

  • Whose story is being told? What is the author’s point of view or perspective?
  • Is the author taking one side or another? Does the author tell the reader that he or she is doing this?
  • Whose story is not being told? Why might that be?
  • What might another point of view or perspective be

Crazy Professor Reading Game:  Check it out here:  This is a 4 step method.

Step 1:  The students read independently with overly dramatic expression.  This helps them emphasize key words and increase comprehension.

Step 2:  The students use hand gestures to add a very important motor element to further deepen comprehension.

Step 3:  The students teach their neighbor.  Partners dramatically ask questions about what they’ve read (using hand gestures), and the other student answers dramatically, using hand gestures as well.  While doing this step, both students are actually building their summarizing and paraphrasing abilities.

Step 4:  The pairs take on roles.  One is the crazy professor, whose role is to state a big summary of everything that has been read, very dramatically.  The other is the eager student who repeats eagerly what the crazy professor says.

Jigsaw For Content Area Reading Assign sections of reading, and split students into different groups than they are normally paired with.  (For example, have whole class count off by 1, 2, 3, 4.  Then all of the 1’s are a group, 2’s are a group. etc.)  Assign each group a section of the text to read, and become an expert on that section.  Cooperatively, the students will read and comprehend.  Each group becomes the expert on their section of text in order to teach the other groups.  Teacher must decide on which graphic organizer is most appropriate for each group to create and use to synthesize their information and teach other groups.  Then, students get in groups, each with a 1, 2, 3, and 4 member, and teach their section.





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