If round robin reading is not effective, then what works when setting up a reading activity?
The approach I use when organising a reading, viewing or listening activity is based on Directed Reading and Thinking Activity (DRTA). This is an instructional strategy designed to increase comprehension of texts, especially written ones. However, the approach also works well for visual (still and moving images – such as youtube clips) and spoken texts.
In these activities, all members of the group read the same instructional text at the same time (silently) – they do their own reading and this is one of the keys to the effectiveness of this or similar approaches.
Rather than use yet another acronym (DRTA), I prefer to call this approach Instructional Reading. This highlights the purpose of reading is to learn by gaining deep meaning. The purpose of reading is always to gain meaning but sometimes, as in the case of reading for pleasure, readers are not required to do anything with the text, other than enjoy it.
Steps in an Instructional Reading Lesson typically include:
1. PREPARE students for reading.
The purpose of the prepare phase is for students to switch their brains into gear and be ready to learn from the reading. Barriers to making meaning from the text are broken down so that students can concentrate all their energy on making meaning. Often pre-teaching vocabulary and building background knowledge occur in the prepare phase. Allow about 10 minutes, keep any discussion sharp, and focussed.
2. Set a PURPOSE for reading.
This is the reason that students are reading the text. There will be a content or knowledge purpose and a skill purpose. These purposes should link to the knowledge and skills of assessment. Students should be able to tell you why they are reading the text.
3. Have students FOCUS by READING the text.
This is silent reading of the USSR (Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading) variety. Give your students the space to concentrate. As they are reading, you model appropriate practices. Establish rereading as a valid and worthwhile practice – anything worth reading is worth reading several times. Do this BEFORE reading commences.
4. The REREAD or REDOphase
This phase is an opportunity to go over parts of the text that may be difficult. You may reread parts of the text or ask a student to do this. Video clips may be shown again. You might model part of the response using an ‘I do it, We do it, You Do it’ approach.
5. Provide POST READING activities
The activities that follow the reading should link to the PURPOSE for reading. If Instructional Reading is done well, then the vast majority of students should be able to successfully complete the task.
INSTRUCTIONAL READING REPLACES THE PRACTICE OF THE TEACHER OR MORE ABLE READERS READING TEXTS THAT ARE SIGNIFICANT ENOUGH TO BE READ BE EVERYONE. IT SENDS A CLEAR MESSAGE THAT READING MATTERS AND EVERYONE SHOULD DO IT.
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