Rapid Fire Reading: A Reading Rotation


For those of you that have been following my blog, the birth of my first child went well.  My wife and I love spending time with our newest family member.  Hard to believe I am a Dad to a little baby girl!  Now, on to the material that can help you be a better teacher!

I have also, spent some time analyzing my analytics and it seems that some of my regular readers enjoy lessons and strategies, instead of reading about my opinions on life.  Since, this is popular, I figure I will spend some time helping others learn some of the strategies that I have utilized over the years to help students grow in various ways.  This is the internet after all where we all seek knowledge to help out our lives.  This week I plan on spending some time talking about reading.




I think of my class as one of the last times that the students will be given strategies to help themselves read harder text with a teacher that will walk them through the process step by step.  

Reading with students can be very challenging.  Many of them shut down when presented with large readings in packet form or even just readings that have a front and a back page.  Since I teach US history, reading is a standard part of my class and one of my jobs as a teacher of history is to help them develop the skills necessary to become better readers for high school where the text is going to get harder and they are going to independently have to read more than ever.  I think of my class as one of the last times that the students will be given strategies to help themselves read harder text with a teacher that will walk them through the process step by step. 

One method that I began using a couple of years ago is what I call a rapid fire reading rotation.  I have used this method with all different levels of students of 7th and 8th graders with different backgrounds and skill level.  Really this will work with students of any level from middle to high school.



What you will need:

1.     Each student will be placed in a table group of 4.  (I have done with this 5-6 people and as little as 2 as well.  Normally, I just have my kids placed into groups of 4)

2.    Each table group will need a copied article placed at each table in a folder.  (In my classroom that is about 8 different articles.  I have found that this activity works well if I have a bunch of concepts or identifications that need to be completed in a short period of time.  I have also used this activity very successfully when trying to expose the students to a bunch of short biographies, such as when I am introducing lots of historical actors during the American Revolution.)

3.    Pencils and a sheet for the students to answer on.  (I have done questions for this sometimes and other times I have provided active reading charts with topics.)
How the rotation works:
1.     Each group of students begins at their table and start reading the article provided for them. 

2.    I provide on the Promethean board a timer that the students have to adhere to while reading the document. (Depends on the size of the document, but I usually do 5-6 minutes for advanced and about 8-12 for Comprehensive.)

3.    The timer keeps them focused on the task at hand.  You can adjust the timer accordingly for your groups.  I find that this helps them become more efficient readers while in a timed situation and has helped them do better on the Maryland reading test, but we have yet to see if this will have any impact on the Common Core Test.

4.    When the timer has ended the students know that is their signal to move clockwise to the next table.  I usually give them about 30 seconds to move to the next location and then I start the new timer for the next reading.

5.    Continue repeating until the students have moved around to each station and read all of the material. 



Why would you want to use this system of reading?

1.     I have found that if given little direction my students will take as much time to complete a reading as you have allowed. I think that at different times I have had students complete a reading that probably could have taken 20 minutes in the entire period because they didn’t feel there was a need to push or focus that hard.  Other times I know I have asked too much because many of them could not read at the level I thought they could and no one finished.  But I also don’t think that I have ever had a student who did the reading rotation that didn’t find a way to make it work for him or her. 

2.    The rotation part of this activity helps those students who need to move.  I have taught many students who have ADHD, are in our ED program, or other special needs that need to move around.  I have found that this keeps them focused for the short period of time the need to do their work, but offers them a way to move about the room in a controlled manner. 

3.    I have found that having the timer keeps the students calm and controlled as they only have a short amount of time at each station. 

4.    I also found that only having one reading at a time available at each station helps keep the students focused on the task at hand.  We all have students who are tremendous readers that finish early, but because I have my strong students placed with others who need some help it allows for those who finish early helping the other locate material in the reading.  This takes off some of the pressure from me and allows me to target the students who need me the most.  It also allows for the students to work on their social skills and learn how to help others.  

5.    I have found that the reading activities in the curriculum had been too difficult or there were to many of them for the students to digest.  I also have found that the group activities that only give each group one reading only allows them to see a fraction of the picture.  I almost always had students who only knew partially what they needed to know because each group was only given 1 reading.  I know a discussion alleviates some of this challenge, but I have found that unless the students actively engage with the readings themselves they are less likely to remember the information. 

After the class was over I gave them a survey to see what they thought of the assignment.  What I found was shocking!  The majority of students said they disliked reading, but that this was fun and that they liked the articles better than the textbook!

6.    I discovered something interesting when I was doing this the first time that was a social exercise.  I originally took material that we needed to use and copied out of the textbook and cut out each section before making each article on each topic we needed to cover for the period of the Early Republic.  I only did this because I didn’t have material from any other source at the time and my students revolted every time I asked them to get out the textbooks.  This time I had each topic on one sheet of paper at the tables and told them at they needed to read each article on each different topic.  When we began reading there was no pushback form the students.  Just framing the reading in a different way shaped their opinion of the assignment.

After the class was over I gave them a survey to see what they thought of the assignment.  What I found was shocking!  The majority of students said they disliked reading, but that this was fun and that they liked the articles better than the textbook!  Even though I knew that the articles were from the textbook they no longer looked like the original pages because I had cut out all the extra stuff.  Perhaps it had something to do with them being treated like adults while doing the reading?  I really have no idea why, but every time I edited the pages then on the rest of the school year the response was much better than when we cracked open the books!

So next time you need to do a bunch of reading for background knowledge or you have a large population of biographies you need to have read try out this rotation.  I have found that over the years the students really like completing it and I do it once a quarter or so.  If you have any similar experiences, I would love to hear them down in the comments!  The more we share the more we grow!

No comments:

Post a Comment