There are several bottom lines on why Round Robin Reading does not help readers become better readers. The number one reason seems so obvious. Children hold onto meaning when they read the WHOLE story themselves. If children do not read the whole story themselves, and read it only in a Round Robin format, and let’s say they have three turns and the story is 16 pages long, then that means they are only reading page 1, 8 and 16 (hypothetically). That’s like the first 16th of a movie, the 8/16th of the movie and the last 16th of a movie…are you really going to comprehend the movie by only watching a fraction of it at the beginning, middle and end of the movie?

The next bottom line and second main reason to NOT do Round Robin Reading is the emotional agitation, aggravation, and anxiety it causes both high readers and low readers. Low readers are self-conscious enough as it is that their reading is labored and slow, so the last thing they want is a public performance spotlighting their reading challenges and imperfections.  On the same but different note, it is painful for high readers to listen to low readers struggle through text and have to listen to the labored, incorrect, slow oral reading.  This is why peer Round Robin readers just TELL struggling readers the words at tricky spots, because THEY CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE.  So listen, let’s not put high or low readers through this emotional turmoil for no reason or research base behind doing so.

And here’s the third most important bottom line…Round Robin Reading (and other turn-taking reading) does NOT help kids LOVE reading!


Reading Engagement Photo Credit: Hope King at Elementary Shenanigans
In a survey, teachers said they used Round Robin for a few different reasons:

1. ” because kids said they liked it…”
My response: Kids may know what they like but they don’t always know what’s best for them or other students. Reading less is less work, kids are experts and figuring out ways to do less work. Let’s not give in to this.
Non Round Robin Reading Solution:
 Partner Reading. 
When kids do Partner Reading, they get to read out loud, listen to each other read, and read the whole text. Each partner is responsible for the comprehension of the whole text.

2: “to help my students’ reading stamina…”
My response: Kids do not improve their reading stamina by reading only parts of a text, and by doing start/stop reading.
Non Round Robin Reading Solution:
Reading Stamina Graph. 
Kids will only increase their stamina if they A)know what reading stamina is; B)have strategies and a plan (goals) to increase it; and C)have a way to progress monitor themselves to see if they are improving at what they said they wanted to improve. Have students keep a Reading Stamina Graph and record their daily stamina minutes by shading up to the number of minutes read without interruptions or leaving their just right spot.

3. “to help my students’ increase their fluency & comprehension…
My response: In order to increase your fluency and comprehension, you have to read the whole anything of anything to comprehend it, and you have read the whole enchilada more than once or twice.  Ever listen to the tail end of a conversation? See the middle part only of a movie? Or, listen to half of a voice message?  Comprehension does not occur without ALL the information, and sometimes we have to listen or watch it twice…that’s what good listeners do!
Non Round Robin Reading Solution:
Close Reading
All students read the text, on their own, at their own pace, individually. If the text is hard or intellectually challenging, but short, they should do it at your guided reading table. Each student has their own copy of the text. Each student annotates on their own paper.  The teacher asks questions of the students and a discussion about the text ensues. Repeat: A collaborative discussion ensues. The discussion covers the three main strands of the reading standards over a three day period, at least, where the first day discussion is about Standards 1-3 – Key Ideas and Details, translation, WHAT THE TEXT SAYS.
Day 2 discussion is about Standards 4-6 – Author’s Craft and Structure – translation – HOW THE AUTHOR IS SAYING IT.
And the Day 3 discussion is about Standards 7-9 – translation –
This technique is known as Close Reading.
Non Round Robin Reading Solution:
Guided Reading
If the text is not hard, or at the group’s instructional level, but students read the text, on their own, individually at their own pace and you listen in to one reader at a time, while you listen to the rest of the students out of the corner of your ear, this technique is called Guided Reading.
Non Round Robin Reading Solution:
Independent Reading
If the student can read the text at a better accuracy rate than 95%, like 96-100%, then this would be considered an independent level for that student.  For example, students in a guided reading level F, would have at least 8-10 books in their independent reading basket at level E, or D and E.  With this, the student is doing several repeated readings of the same books, increasing their fluency and making very few errors on the text. The student can find a just-right spot and sit in a just-right position and read and reread the books in their independent book baskets to themselves, out loud, silently or into a whisper phone. Many students can co-read all around the room in this structure, while you read with students at guided reading.  This structure is otherwise known as Independent Reading, and there is very little chance for disruption and non-comprehension because students are feeling like successful readers in their independent reading level zone. See pictures below of students reading books at their independent reading level, in just-right spots, in just-right positions. Research also shows that students are motivated to read books higher than their independent reading level because it’s a book they are interested in, motivated to read, and have self-selected, then they are most apt to actually read it despite it being “above” their reading level.

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