Working together
Blog, Leadership Skills and Implementation

Professional Development Activities for Teachers: Partner Reading (Part 5)

By Terry Wilhelm

Working togetherIn the first four posts of this series, each type of professional reading by a school staff concluded with a total-group sharing out. Using the partner reading strategy, both the reading and discussion and sharing take place between pairs of teachers.

Partner reading strategy from beginning to end

Before distributing the material (which should be no longer than a page) explain how the process works to your staff:

  • Once everyone has paired up with a reading partner, they will decide who will be A and who will be B.
  • Teacher A reads the first paragraph aloud while B follows along.
  • When A has finished reading, B makes a one-sentence comment about the content. A may choose to make a one-sentence comment in return, or may pass.
  • B reads the next paragraph, and the process is reversed.
  • A and B thus take turns reading aloud and responding, and once they have finished the entire selection, they will use the remaining time while other pairs finish to have an open discussion about the entire reading.

Tell the group you will check on progress in about 20 minutes.  The time may need to be more or less, depending on how provocative the selection proves to be for the staff.

As with all reading strategies, bring the process to closure by inviting any final thoughts about the material or the process from the group at large, but do not insist on public comments from every pair of participants.

Recommendations for using the partner reading strategy

I recommend having teachers choose their own partners for this strategy. If there is a concern about accountability to the task between teachers who will naturally pair up, it is possible to assign partners, but take care in pairing up teachers; do not pair staff members who are known to have animosity toward each other. If there is an odd number of teachers in the group present, the principal should pair up with a teacher so that there are no triads.

Because this strategy requires nearly 100 percent attention and participation by both partners, it is somewhat intense, and suitable only for relatively short pieces of about a page in length.

The series:
Part 1: Full vs. abbreviated jigsaw
Part 2: Reading cascade
Part 3: Final word discussion protocol
Part 4: Chunked and timed protocol
Part 5: Partner reading
Part 6: Levels of sharing out and think-write-pair-share

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