Search form

Wave Goodbye to Round Robin Reading—These 5 Strategies are Better

Given the widespread recognition that round robin reading is inefficient and actively harms students' text comprehension, many educators and researchers are perplexed as to why it is still widely used. Even today's more "aware" instructors employ round robin reading despite being aware of its negative implications. 

They may try to conceal its usage by using other monikers with minuscule differences, such as popcorn, combat, or popsicle reading. They do so as round robin reading contradicts their scientific understanding of reading education. 

Round Robin Reading's Disruptive Effect

According to the theory behind this extremely popular method, students will stay engaged if they are randomly picked to read aloud without knowing where the last reader left off. However, round robin reading (RRR) has several drawbacks that make it unsuitable for use:

Provides an Inaccurate Perspective on Reading Skills

Teachers must assist students in understanding that comprehension, not word calling, is what drives reading. Round robin reading involves pupils reading an unrehearsed piece orally as others follow along.

Emphasis on impromptu reading and word correction, as is common with round robin reading, risks leaving kids with the notion that reading is more about exact word calling than comprehension, a major misunderstanding of what constitutes excellent English reading skills.

Encourages Ineffective Reading Habits

Students who read quicker than the individual reading aloud will surely slow down if they are expected to follow along. Or, if the oral reader reads too rapidly, students, particularly ELLs, will have little or no opportunity to comprehend the meaning of unfamiliar words.

Both types of readers cannot digest information most efficiently. When reading, children must learn that self-monitoring is essential, as is paying attention to meaning, identifying when it breaks down, and knowing what to do about it.

Might Cause Anxiety and Humiliation

Students tend to figure out the pattern of calling on people during round robin to know what to practice to sound well when called upon. In other words, they are concerned about maintaining their dignity and avoiding embarrassment.

Anxiety and humiliation are common side effects of round robin reading. When it is used, students often throw comprehension out of the window.

5 Better Strategies Than Round Robin Reading

Oral reading does have its use if used correctly. According to the National Reading Panel's findings, "guided repeated oral reading procedures that included guidance from teachers, peers, or parents had a significant and positive impact on word recognition, fluency, and comprehension across a range of levels."

However, while round robin reading uses oral reading, it's not the way to go. Here are five alternative strategies for maximizing the benefits of oral reading:

1. Choral Reading

Choral reading occurs when the teacher and the entire class read the material aloud together, minimizing the public exposure of ELLs readers. It's ideal since no one is forced to speak, and everyone is reading (or at the very least listening) the text. 

David Paige discovered that 16 minutes of weekly whole-class choral reading improved decoding and fluency.

To provide variety, skip a word during oral reading from time to time. It will encourage your pupils to recite the missing word.

2. Repeated Reading

In repeated reading, students read the same short piece of a text multiple times until they can read it smoothly, either independently or in small groups. It's an excellent choice for a reading lesson as students may put all of the new methods they've learned to work on a challenging piece.

3. Partner Reading

With partner reading, you may pair up pupils on the spot. Or better yet, you might pair up the children depending on their reading abilities or personalities. It's a fantastic approach to focusing on each pupil's specific reading skills.

4. Echo Reading

Echo reading requires students to repeat what the teacher says, imitating the pace and inflections. It's ideal for reading content with many unfamiliar terms, such as a new scientific subject. It allows kids to hear correctly read words before repeating them themselves.

5. Whisper Reading

When you want to focus on specific difficulties of particular pupils, whisper reading may be the most effective technique. As you round the room and listen, have students read softly to themselves. As you go by each pupil, you can give them praise or constructive feedback.

Wrapping Up

The greatest approach to prevent reverting to old, familiar habits is to make a firm commitment to avoiding doing so. Save this list of suggestions somewhere safe to swiftly switch things up when tempted to employ round robin reading.

Written by Ridwan Rais Firdaus
Education World Contributor
Copyright© 2022 Education World