Saturday, September 8, 2007

Partner Reading: Let's Read Together

Since kindergartners cannot sit for very long and read by themselves in independent reading, partner reading is a way to extend the Work Time in the Readers' Workshop early in the year. Partner reading extends the amount of time that the children read, building stamina in these very young children. Before beginning the teacher pairs children with similar reading abilities and takes into consideration personalities. These parings may change as she finds out more about the children as readers in the weeks to come and identifies partners that do not work well together, but eventually partnerships are meant to be long term pairings. In a mini-lesson the teacher demonstrates with a child (or her team teacher) the rituals and routines of partner reading:

  • We sit knee-to-knee and shoulder-to-shoulder.
  • We decide who is going to choose the book and read first.
  • We put the book in between.
  • We take turns reading.
Each point of partner reading is demonstrated. The teacher demonstrates what it looks like to sit knee-to-knee and shoulder-to-shoulder and gives non-examples! She discusses how to decide who should go first (by being a friend: "You may go first today and I'll go first tomorrow" or by playing a game with a winner such as "Rock, Paper, Scissors" - demonstrated on the left). The teacher shows what "book in the middle" means and again gives non-examples. And finally she talks about taking turns which means "you read a page and then I read a page." After the discussion and demonstrations the teacher chooses a partner group and "makes them famous" by having all the other children watch as they demonstrate, once again, what partner reading looks like and sounds like.

The mini-lesson to teach this procedure takes about 10 minutes. After the first day of practicing just partner reading, the children will spend about 10 minutes in independent reading and then at a signal will spend about 10 minutes in partner reading. These times will slowly lengthen as the children are able to read for longer and longer periods of time. As the children mature as readers this will be the place where they help their partner practice strategies for decoding unknown words such as "sounding it out" or "skip and return" and it's where they will begin to have book talks discussing books with their partner. This was a great beginning! Happy reading, little ones!

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