Have you tried partner reading in your classroom or group sessions? Read on to find out what it is and download free lists and sentences.
What is partner reading?
In a nutshell, it’s a routine that focuses on developing student fluency through partnership. We can use this activity successfully from the first year of school until students achieve fluency. Two students work together to read curated lists, short sentences, and books that have previously taught sounds and spellings. In the first year of school, carefully curated lists and short sentences will work better than books because students need lots of repetition to sound out words using letter-sound knowledge and practise blending to read. Partner reading will give students lots of exposure to previously taught sounds and spellings. Educators often underestimate the amount of practice needed to master new learning and skills. Beginning readers need repeated practice to build skills and knowledge.
It is a routine that needs to be modelled, taught, and supported. Initially, it is not an independent activity but could form part of whole class instruction to model the idea or as a supported group activity. Once students have gained skills and understanding, it could become an independent activity. The lists and sentences used are perfect to send home for extra repetition of previously taught sounds and spellings.
Establish a routine that will work in your classroom Decide who goes with who? Who will read first? How will they error correct? Model how to give feedback.
All that glitters isn’t gold!
As always, many websites make it sound like an elaborate process. Instructions include timers, tape recorders, stickers and self-reflection sheets. Additional resources can be a distraction and compete for attention. Ask yourself! What is the goal? What is important? Is it crucial for students to record themselves to hear themselves read, or is time better spent actually reading the words and focusing on the print?
Children are like magpies, and distractions are just like glittery, shiny stuff that they can’t help but pick up and handle! Some of these peripheral resources may help engagement in your classroom depending on age, attitude and skill level, but we must drill down to the point. Why are we doing this? The preprimary classroom that I often visit — is the first year of school for those that call it prep, kindergarten or reception. They use this cooperative strategy several times a week at the end of whole class instruction time on the mat. They know the drill. The class has set groups for whole-class instruction on the mat. The children are in two groups—less able paired with more able Apples Bananas
The class also has flexible partners when partner reading is a supported literacy group activity. The class use curated lists and short sentences to develop fluency and build skills and knowledge. Group work after whole class instruction is several supported literacy groups depending on adult availability and several structured play activities set by the teacher.
I often use my Read it, Write it, Draw it sentences for partner reading.
Check them out here.
Check out my first decodable stories pack here — 35 stories in 3 formats.
Students in a preprimary classroom are not independent learners yet.
Students need achievable independent activities while teachers and support staff work with others. A mix of whole-class instruction with supported group instruction goes hand in hand with some structured play activities that feed other areas of development, such as oral language, gross and fine motor skills, and the ability to play and interact with others. The goal is to minimise the time children spend on their own, but we have to be mindful that in the first year of school, a little and often approach of whole class instruction followed by a couple of explicit instruction groups and some structured but playful groups will help little people stay on task if they know, the routine and structure.
How to set up partner reading – using curated lists
I use lists for repetition to consolidate knowledge of CVC-CCVCC words and the digraph ‘CK'. Lists should only contain previously taught sounds and spellings.
Here is what we did.
The book contains eight lists. The students read two lists.
The book goes home for repeated practice.
•Partner 1 reads the list to partner 2, who checks off each word in the flipbook and partner 1 corrects and gives feedback. •Partner 2 then reads, and partner 1 checks off, corrects and gives feedback.
•Fast finishers use the whiteboards to call out words to their partner. •Really fast finishers add some words to sentences on their whiteboards.
To grab your completely free set of lists and sentences.
How to set up partner reading – using curated sentences
The activity was a warm-up list and four sentences. This activity goes home for repeated practice. The students only read one list at school and two sentences.
Here is what we did.
•Partner 1 reads one list to partner 2. Partner 2 checks off each word and gives feedback. •Next, partner 2 reads to partner 1.
•Partner 1 reads one or two sentences, and partner 2 checks off the words. •Partner 2 then reads one or two sentences and partner 1 checks.
•Fast finishers use paper strips to call out words to their partner. •Really fast finishers dictate a sentence to each other.
Teamwork and cooperation are additional skills to foster.
Fluency is the goal for partner reading, but we should also consider the secondary skills we want to encourage, such as cooperation, teamwork and friendship. A crucial part of partner reading is how students correct errors and give feedback. Constructive teacher feedback and error correction will help develop how the students offer feedback. Whatever you say to your students, they will copy.
Here are some feedback gems I heard in the classroom.
•Let’s try that again. I think it says ‘cat’ say it with me. Now, let’s sound it out and read the word again. That is not a /d/. Let’s sound out the whole word again.
•Wait, wait, can you just say that again?
•I want you to start that word again, and this time, sound it out first
•Listen /k/ /i/ /d/ /z/ now let’s put it together ‘kids’, now you do it.
•Let’s try that again, you said /b/, but it’s a /d/
•These words all came from children who have only had three terms in school. Children often repeat what they hear and see.
Children learn new material best through explicit teaching.
We should do as much as possible through whole-class teaching and supported group instruction. It is best to avoid putting new skills or knowledge into independent group work activities.
Click here for some free lists and sentences to get you started! The lists and sentences contain CVC-CCVCC words and digraphs ‘CH’ ‘TH’ ‘SH’ ‘CK’
We also use sentences and words for dictation.
We love a splash of colour. To download this paper and others, go here. It also has lines too!
It sounds very authoritative and not at all engaging, but if we can get past the word dictation, transcribing words is a great way to get children to link reading and spelling. It enables students to practise previously taught sounds in the context of words and sentences. Writing is a complex activity that is about the mechanics of getting the print on the page plus generating ideas. In the early days of instruction, a daily dictation activity removes the need to create ideas, locks in the mechanics of letter formation and retrieves the spellings to form words and sentences.
A daily dication is the perfect time to hone in on letter formation and to check their increasing knowledge of the alphabet code.
The ready-made sentences are a real-time saver in my clinic, and I love to use them in the classroom as I don't need to think of sentences and words on my feet.
I just print off the relevant resources before each session!
Working with small groups of children is the perfect time to hone in on letter formation and to check their increasing knowledge of the alphabet code.
Here is what we did.
I read the sentence.
I asked the students to say the sentence with me. Next, we said the sentence again and counted the words. We always count with our fingers the number of words we should see on the page.
In the beginning, your student might not be able to hold all the words in their short-term memory, so you may have to read the sentence a word at a time to help them get the words on the page.
Check out my sentence packs here.
Next, I read the sentence and helped the students to sound out each word if needed. Once we got to the end of the sentence, I reread the whole sentence, and the students read the sentence to me. If corrections are needed, encourage your student to read again and encourage self-correction. Finally, I reread the sentence and corrected it if needed.