Educators are constantly on the hunt to find ways to engage their students and foster a love for reading in their classrooms.
Reading Partnerships are the answer!
Reading Partnerships allow students to read with their friends, while they also make new friends between the pages!
What is a Reading Partnership?
A Reading Partnership is when two students, at the same reading level, read the same text together and share about their reading. Reading Partnerships allow students to monitor comprehension and it also holds students accountable for their reading. A bonus for teachers is that Reading Partnerships motivates students to read!
How to Implement Reading Partnerships
Choosing a Reading Partner
The overall goal of reading partnerships is to allow students to enjoy a book together. The most important step of reading partnerships is step number one: the selection of a partner. It is crucial that a student is paired with another student that is at the same reading level. Both students need to be able to access the text and it can be counterproductive if one student is always helping the other. One idea is to guide students during this step. Another idea is to create “cohorts” for students to choose from.
Choosing a Text
The next step is to have the pair of students select a just-right text. The text should be one that is both interesting and at the appropriate reading level. Again, the teacher can either guide during this step or can provide a book bin of texts that are appropriate for each reading level.
Setting a Reading Goal & Reading!
Reading Partners should then agree on an amount of reading that they will do on a daily basis. Students should never read ahead of the other student. They wouldn’t want to ruin it for the other student… can we say, “SPOILER ALERT!” We always recommend that our students should have a “side book” so that if they finish their amount of pages, they still have something else to read. As far as reading goes, the teacher has a few choices here, depending on what works for you and your classroom. Students can either be given time to read the text together in class, or they can read it independently and then come together to share. See the image below with some of the different ideas.
Students should always come together to share about their reading on a daily basis. This step monitors comprehension and adds to the excitement of reading the text. Students want to talk about their reading! The teacher can list questions for the students to answer during this time or the students can generate a list of ideas while they are reading that they want to share with their partner. Either way, the sharing is where the magic of Reading Partnerships happens!
Reading Partnerships… The Rigorous Owl’s Way
We have done Reading Partnership Book Clubs in our classroom for many years and we have made reading partnerships a bit magical and extremely successful by making it friendship themed! We want to share our 8 quick and easy steps to making Reading Partnership Book Clubs work for you. Get Ready to kick back, and watch your students read with excitement and joy!
Step 1: Students take a reading survey that asks them about their reading interests. Then, our students “shop” for a buddy with similar interests. Note: as mentioned before, this is the most important step, so the teacher needs to be involved! Students need to be paired with students that are at, or close to, the same reading level. We will watch our students and offer suggestions during this step to ensure that students are paired with appropriate partners.
Step 2: Partners look through our book basket of paired texts and choose one that is interesting. Students then preview the text and fill out a preview form to make sure that it is the right text for them.
Step 3: Students grab a bookmark where they record their daily reading goals. Students take the number of pages and divide them into the amount of days they have to complete the text. The partners agree that they will each do their part on a daily basis.
Step 4: Our students choose a focus for the day’s reading. This is how we get the standards covered at the same time! Our students choose between setting, theme, making connections, plot, characters, or social media. (The social media is just a fun prompt that is engaging for students, while we check for comprehension.) As the students are reading, they write down everything they can think of on the focus they chose. This also serves as an accountability piece.
Step 5: Students bring their focus cards and share what they wrote. Students can discuss similarities and differences and add to their notes during this time.
Step 6: After their discussion, our students get to choose between a variety of frames that match their focus. Let’s say that the students chose Plot. Each plot frame has a different plot question at the top. The reading partners would choose the frame that best matches their discussion. Students then answer the question and fill in the frame.
Step 7: We love to have everything themed in our rooms and always look for more ways to engage our students. We love the idea of having Reading Partnerships friendship themed! Students are reading books with their friends and making new friends between the pages! Why not make friendship bracelets?! We thought it would be a good idea to color code each focus. As students complete the frame for the focus, the students earn a bead for their friendship bracelet that matches the focus’ color. Let’s say the students chose setting. Setting is yellow. As the students collected information about setting and shared with each other, they would fill out a frame for setting. When that was done, they would both earn a yellow bead for their bracelets. The friendship bracelets are easy for the teacher and motivating for students. They can’t wait to add to their bracelets! Win-Win!
Step 8: We love having a cumulative project that our students can walk away with in the end. For Reading Partnerships, our students add each fame to a lapbook that documents their book and allows them to take pride and ownership in the book that they read together. We love to display the students’ lapbooks at Open House and other parent nights.
Reading Partnerships… Another Way to Foster a Reading Community
The goal of every educator should be to foster a reading community and grow their students into lifelong readers. To us, Reading Partnerships is the perfect activity to engage students as a reader. We all know that reading is the number one way to improve students’ abilities in all other academic areas. We should go out of our way to search for meaningful activities and to find the perfect books to place into our students’ hands. There is no better way to spend your time as a teacher!
Provide the Type of Reading Classroom You Needed as a Child
In finishing this post, we must stand on our soapbox for a moment. Please bear with us. It really is very simple. Reading is meant for enjoyment. Some educators find it necessary to require reports or assignments for every book that a child reads in order to prove that they actually read the book. Our thought is… Isn’t there a better way to find this out? What about Reading Conferences and conferring with your students? What about just talking to them about their reading? How about masking an assignment into a a fun and engaging activity that doesn’t kill the joy of reading? Stop punishing kids for reading. Make it fun. Make it engaging. Turn your students on to reading in a way that only you can! Show your passion and you will see that your passion for reading is contagious!