Whose Turn is it Anyway?

Whose Turn is it Anyway?

This year, I ask you, I beg you…please do not use reading as a classroom management tactic, as punishment, as a means to embarrass.  Please.

Use reading as it should be used: a means to learn, a means to escape, a means to inspire, a means to understand, a means to connect…

I remember attending a conference early in my teaching career when I was told about POPCORN reading. The idea first excited me…students could read as much or as little as they wanted, the task of the read aloud was passed around the class. Ensuring each voice was heard this required everyone to be ready and engaged, right?

I was a product of POPCORN’s grandfather, ROUND ROBIN, surely a product created and adapted during the onset of the Industrialized Revolution. Each student read a portion of the text, down the row, up the row, down the row, up the row.  The reader has a responsibility to be ready for their passage requiring each reader to be ready and engaged, right?

I thought on these tactics and devised a plan. What if I draw popsicle sticks for readers? Then anyone at any given time must be ready to read their part. This required everyone to be ready and engaged, right? Ugh. Just another relative to the broken promise of POPCORN and ROUND ROBIN and the rest of the distant punitive cousins.

And then a few years ago-the epiphany as I was reading one of my student’s comments on the first day, first week of school, Student Expectations of Teacher form.

The prompt: You will embarrass me if you…

The response: You will embarrass me if you call on me to read. I like to read. I am usually not in the same place as the class because I read faster. But I hate it when I am called on, and teachers think it is because I was not reading when really I was.

I thought on this, and I realized I was doing a disservice. When it came down to it, I was using reading to monitor engagement. That is what my teachers were doing to me.  And I hated it. I see value in reading aloud, but we should value what is gained from that experience not what can be controlled. So, I changed my plan.

If we were going to read aloud, that read aloud section was short. I read less than a minute only to snag attention and model rate, pace, variation, phrasing, reading thinking strategy. All things all readers were able to practice in a non-threatening manner. If there was something worth reading aloud as a whole group, we scripted prior to the reading. The volunteer readers knew what paragraph or section they were going to tackle. We collaboratively examined for tricky words, so everyone knew how to say everything within their section. Those readers that did not want to read aloud did not have to. But when given an opportunity to see what was to come, to know how to say words within section, students all participated. Reading aloud happened daily, perhaps it happened chorally, but it did not dominate our time, nor serve as a zapper to whip a daydreaming (contemplative) student into submission.

Leave the POPCORN in the kettle, ROUND ROBIN for a tournament, and let reading be what is should be: an awesome avenue for…