Okay, I thought. We’ll see how this goes. I stood at the front of the class. “Today we’re going to finish the book. I’d like you to find a partner of your choice and read this final section, ‘Afterward’ aloud.”
I stood silently and watched as my students walked, skipped, and hustled across the room to find their friends and begin reading. Who would have thought that sitting and reading with a partner could make them this happy?! I smiled and inwardly sighed. We’ll see if this actually works.
Over the last month, my English 10 students have been reading Tuesdays with Morrie. And over the last month, I have not put them with a partner to peer read. At all. Why? I was nervous. This group tends to get off-task easily and I really wasn’t in the mood for dealing with distractions and being a babysitter all period. But we were almost finished with the book, and rather than read aloud (which I had been doing on and off already) and rather than silent read (which I felt would take longer) I decided to try the peer reading.
What happened (after some distractions of course) was that the students actually began to read! It was more productive than I thought it would be! Plus, having pairs helped slower readers to stay on pace and forced them to read quicker and more efficiently. This helped to accommodate some of my slower learners, too! It also gave students a chance to feel more comfortable reading aloud, as they chose their own partners.
Now I’m not encouraging this to be a strategy used all the time, but I have to say, this wasn’t as bad as I thought. To switch things up and give students some ownership of their reading–this worked well!