Monday, September 9, 2019

5 Reasons Why Round Robin Reading Is Ineffective

"I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage."
-- Roald Dahl

Learning to read is important.  So is understanding information that is read aloud.  But it is not realistic to expect students to read a text out loud in class and simultaneously comprehend what was read.  It doesn’t matter if they are the students doing the reading or they are just listening to another student reading.  Round robin reading is an ineffective method of teaching reading and content to English Language Learners and native English speakers. 

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Do Round Robin Reading
* Reading out loud is a different skill from reading silently.  A student can be an excellent reader when reading silently but stumble over words when forced to read aloud.  When I was in school, I read several grade levels above my actual grade but I hated having to read out loud because I got nervous about having to perform in front of an audience.  Just imagine how ELLs who are not fluent English speakers would feel in that situation!  They are already self-conscious about their language skills so calling on them to read to the whole class would be nerve-wracking.  And if a teacher skips over them but calls on every other student, that will also make ELLs self-conscious because they are being singled out for being different and/or less able than everyone else in the class.
* Students read at different rates: Some people read quickly and others more slowly.  Asking students to listen and follow along in the book to someone who reads at a different speed makes it difficult to actually comprehend the material.  If a student reads faster than someone else, the listener doesn’t have time to process the information that is heard and can’t keep up in the book.  If a student reads slower than someone else, the listener can be tempted to read ahead but is lost when asked a question by the teacher because she was not in the right place.  For ELLs whose reading skills are not as proficient as the other students, even following along in the textbook would be difficult since some, many, or most of the words would be unknown to them.  ELLs with lower levels of language proficiency who are in mainstream classes might be lost from the first sentence.
* When students do round robin reading, they often ignore the punctuation because they can’t read ahead to know when a sentence ends and they can’t go back and reread it to get it right after they see the whole sentence.  That means their intonation isn’t correct.  That, in turn, exacerbates the difficulty for ELLs and other students in understanding the material.
* It’s virtually impossible to learn new content when also reading that content out loud in front of other people.  If students are reading material that is new to them, they will inevitably end up focusing on trying to pronounce the words correctly.  But new content means many new words, so the meaning gets lost because the form takes precedence.  I did push-in ESL in a 5th grade Science class for a couple years and that teacher often had students do round robin reading.  I sat next to an ELL with intermediate language proficiency and it was impossible for him to read even one paragraph in the science textbook out loud without making lots of errors.  He didn’t learn anything because not only were the science concepts new to him, many of the words he was trying to read were new as well.  Nor did the other students in the class learn anything when he read because it was new to them, too, and he had to stop so often for help with pronunciation that his listeners lost the gist of what he was reading.
* Some teachers use round robin reading to assess students’ pronunciation skills, thinking that if students can pronounce words accurately that means they understand their meaning.  But just because students can say words correctly, that doesn’t mean they understand what they are saying.  And what is the point of reading unless it is to comprehend what is being read?  For ELLs, especially those at beginning and intermediate levels of language proficiency, the vagaries of English spelling make it difficult for them to know how to pronounce unknown words.  Asking them to do a cold reading and expecting them to do it well is unfair and not realistic.

Find out why round robin reading is not effective for ELLs & other students in this blog post | The ESL Nexus
ELLs & other students don't benefit from round robin reading; source: The ESL Nexus
What You Can Do Instead of Round Robin Reading:
* If you are doing round robin reading because you are reading a class novel, put the students in small groups of mixed ability and have them read the novel that way.  Reading in a small group is much less intimidating for ELLs.  You can do the same thing with textbooks.
* If you are doing round robin reading because you are introducing new content material to your class, such as the case with the Science teacher mentioned above, you can read the text yourself.  As the teacher, you are already familiar with the content and will be able to read it with proper intonation and pronunciation, which facilitates comprehension by all students.  Students can follow along in the book if you wish and see how words that are new to them are pronounced.
* If you are doing round robin reading because you want to ask questions about specific parts of the material to see how well students understand it, create a worksheet or other activity instead that asks the questions you’re interested in.  Then have your students complete it after reading the material on their own or in pairs or small groups.  Let students work together to do the worksheet or activity.  Not only does that give students the chance to explain the information to their classmates, it also gives them speaking practice.
* If you are doing round robin reading to assess students’ pronunciation skills, do the assessment individually and in private so students aren’t put on the spot and don’t get nervous.

Another Suggestion:

When you, the teacher, read out loud from a book, give students the option of following along in the text or just listening while you read.  Many teachers want their students to follow along as they read but for ELLs, often it is more productive for them to just listen to the material being read.  Because ELLs are not fluent in English, they may recognize words when they hear them but not know how to spell them and therefore not recognize them when encountered in a text.  If understanding the content is your aim, then letting students listen as you read will be more effective.  Later, on their own, you can have the ELLs read the text and, since they have already heard it, it will be easier for them to comprehend the material.

Book Recommendations:
Mainstream teachers in middle and high school, and many ESL teachers, are not necessarily literacy specialists but are often tasked with teaching reading.  Many of them have not been trained in how to teach students to read or, if they have, they have not been trained to teach second language learners how to read, which is somewhat different from teaching native speakers to read.  Below are 2 books I have found especially helpful for teaching reading to ELLs. 

(This post contains affiliate links. That means that I make a small commission if you make a purchase but it's at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!)

From Reader to Reading Teacher

This book contains background theory about reading and practical ideas for teaching reading to ELLs.  See my detailed review HERE.

Reading and Writing in More Than One Language

This short book is aimed at K-12 teachers and includes lots of classroom examples about teaching literacy skills to ELLs.  You can find my detailed review HERE.

There are many effective ways to teach students to read.  Round robin reading is not one of them.  As the new school year in the U.S. gets underway, I sincerely hope that you will not use round robin reading in your classes. 


Monday, August 19, 2019

The Norsemen are Coming and so is a TpT Sale!

"Wisdom is welcome wherever it comes from."
-- Bandamanna Saga

Spending my senior year in Sweden as an exchange student meant attending a Swedish-language high school.  I had wanted to learn another foreign language and was thrilled when offered the opportunity to go to Scandinavia because I was interested in Viking history.

It was a wonderful year!

A few months after my return to the U.S., I started college.  But I had reverse culture shock and missed Sweden.  I decided to teach myself Old Icelandic.  To do that, I got up early and studied in my room before going to breakfast and my actual classes.

Find out about 51 English words that come from Old Norse with a new TpT resource from The ESL Nexus!
Page from my Old Icelandic notebook--yeah, I kept it!  Source: The ESL Nexus
Not being a morning person, that didn’t last long.

But my love of Viking history did.  A few months ago, I watched The Last Kingdom on Netflix and now I’m reading the books that series is based on.  I wouldn’t recommend them for students but if you like historical fiction, they’re great.

As a result, I was inspired to finally create my resource about English words that come from Old Norse.  It’s a companion to my English Words with Arabic Roots resource, which is organized in a similar manner.  It also pairs well with my Viking Curriculum Unit: Explorers, Rulers, Places, Gods and Goddesses, which has over 100 pages of material that teach about the Vikings.

When I was in Sweden, it didn’t take me too long to feel comfortable using Swedish; after 6 months, I was even dreaming in it.  So I knew there would be lots of related words because both Swedish and English are Germanic languages.  You probably already knew that berserk and saga are Old Norse words, but did you know that crawl, steak, and window also are?  You can find those words and 46 more – for a total of 51 words – in the resource.

Find out about 51 English words that come from Old Norse with a new TpT resource from The ESL Nexus!
Click HERE for more info about this resource; source: The ESL Nexus
This English Words with Old Norse Origins resource, and all my other resources, will be on sale for 20% off during TpT’s Bonus sale tomorrow, Tuesday, August 20, 2019.  Use the promo code BTSBONUS19 for an additional 5% off when you check out and you’ll get 25% off my resources.  (Most other TpT stores will also be on sale, offering discounts up to 25% off.)

For your convenience, you can find all my Back to School & Beginning of the Year resources HERE, in a custom category.  Of course, you are welcome to browse the rest of my store as well!  And don't forget to check out my Back to School Gift Guide for ESL Teachers and my Gift Guide for Middle School Social Studies Teachers, too.

Save big during the TPT Bonus Sale on 8/20/19 with code BTSBONUS19! | The ESL Nexus
Everything in my TpT store is on sale on 8/20/19!  Image credit: Lisa Rumery
If you are already back in school, I hope the year is off to a great start.  If you have a few more weeks of vacation left, enjoy and I wish you a great first day.  If you’re in the middle of your school year, I hope things are going great for you, too.  Happy teaching!


Monday, August 12, 2019

Introducing TpT ClassFund and Why You Should Use It

Have you heard of TpT ClassFund?  Read on for an explanation, links for more info, and a time-sensitive offer.

Find out about TpT ClassFund & Why You Should Use It | The ESL Nexus
Find out more HERE
TpT ClassFund is a new program from TeachersPayTeachers that gives people an easy way to purchase TpT resources for educators.  There are other online programs that offer the general public ways to support teachers.  What makes this one different is that it is focused solely on providing resources from TpT.  Another difference is that there are no fees for setting up and using TpT ClassFund, so all the money contributed goes towards your selected resources.  Click HERE to read all about it.

TpT has written some blog posts to help you get started:
* How To Talk About TpT ClassFund — And the Impact It Will Have
* 3 Templates for Easy and Impactful Fundraising Through TpT ClassFund™
* Getting Started with TpT ClassFund™: 6 Top Fundraising Tips

And if you set up a TpT ClassFund for yourself, TpT will match contributions made to your fund up to US$50.00 that are made by September 8th or when TpT's maximum $500,000 limit has been reached, whichever comes first.  So by acting sooner, you'll get a nice bonus added to your TpT ClassFund!

If you are one of the more than two-thirds of the teachers in the U.S. use TpT (according to Forbes), or are an educator in another country who uses TpT resources, this new program is bound to help you out!


Monday, August 5, 2019

Don't Miss Out on the Back to School Sale!

Getting ready for the start of a new school year was always something I enjoyed.  Soon enough, reality would sink in and I’d be overloaded with work.  But in the few remaining weeks of summer, looking forward to trying new activities and meeting my students was something I anticipated with great pleasure.

You know what else educators anticipate?  The Back to School Sale by Teachers Pay Teachers!  That’s right – it’s that time of year again.  TpT is having a sale on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 6 and 7, 2019, to help you get ready for whenever you go back to school.  (Or if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, think of the sale as a mid-season reward :-) )

Find great deals for the start of school & the rest of the year at The ESL Nexus during TpT's BTS Sale on August 6 & 7, 2019!
Find all my resources on sale at The ESL Nexus
Everything in my store will be on sale for 20% off, including bundles.  Most stores will also be on sale and by using the promo code BTS19, you’ll get an additional 5% off for a total of up to 25% off.  Just fill your cart with already-discounted resources, then add the promo code at checkout.  VoilĂ , you’ve saved yourself a lot of money!

If you have students from other countries and cultures in your class, you will probably want to get my best-selling Multilingual Welcome Signs resource if you haven’t already purchased it.  It makes a great bulletin board display or you can decorate your door with them.  Use these 8.5” x 11” posters to create a welcoming atmosphere for all your students.

Find great deals for the start of school & the rest of the year at The ESL Nexus during TpT's BTS Sale on August 6 & 7, 2019!
Click HERE for more info; source: The ESL Nexus
If you teach ancient history, I’ve just finished – as in, about half an hour ago – a new resource about Early Humans in Prehistory.  It includes charts that are filled in with information about the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Copper, Bronze, and Iron Ages.  Each chart covers a different age and the information is written so students at lower levels of reading proficiency will comprehend them.  A glossary and list of multiple-meaning words will aid students as they read.  Or they can use the blank charts to take notes when reading other texts.  Task cards, word searches, and a crossword puzzle are also included; answer keys are provided for all.

Find great deals for the start of school & the rest of the year at The ESL Nexus during TpT's BTS Sale on August 6 & 7, 2019!
Click HERE for more info; source: The ESL Nexus
You might also like my big bundle of holiday word search and crossword puzzles.  It contains resources for 18 different American holidays.  It’s regularly priced at $44.20 (which itself is 20% percent off the cost of buying each resource separately) but with an additional 20% off and then the promotional 5% discount on top of that, you’ll save over $10.00 if you buy it during the sale.  That's a great deal so I hope you take advantage!

Find great deals for the start of school & the rest of the year at The ESL Nexus during TpT's BTS Sale on August 6 & 7, 2019!
Click HERE for more info; source: The ESL Nexus
Whatever you do, don’t forgot to use the promo code BTS19!  Happy shopping!