One of the rituals and routines that we expect our kindergartners to be able to do is to read with a partner. During the work period of the Readers' Workshop we often extend individual reading by reading with a partner for another 10 minutes. We are always amazed at how the children are able to teach each other!
The teacher introduces this new routine in the mini-lesson by choosing one of her students to partner read with her. She "fish bowls" the lesson. In other words, she and the student partner read together while the other children watch. Then she invites the children to help her made a list of what they observed in this good example of partner reading. Next she often demonstrates some non-examples to make sure that the students are clear about what should and shouldn't be happening.
We teach our youngest learners to sit with their legs folded knee-to-knee, shoulder-to-shoulder with a book in between. We teach them to each bring a book to the floor and then talk about how to choose which book to read first. Next the teacher talks about taking turns so that one child reads or retells a page and then the other child takes a turn. After the teacher introduces the partner reading routine, she calls partners to go pick their books and then assigns them a space on the floor. The teacher is very intentional about choosing partners. She often makes sure to divide behavior problems and to choose students that will help each other along the way. The partners are usually reading at about the same level.
As the children practice reading together, the teacher goes from partner to partner helping them refine the routine. "Remember you both should have a turn reading. Do you have the book in between? Are you knee-to-knee and shoulder-to-shoulder?" After about ten minutes the children return to the group, discuss the experience and add any other ideas to the chart. This is a routine that will be part of their reading program as long as they are at Chets Creek. It often is a favorite reading time for the children!