How to Implement Effective Partner Reading

Posted on January 07 2020

How to Implement Effective Partner Reading

Use these tips and strategies for reading in pairs in the classroom or at home.

Effective partner reading starts with pairing students together and having them get to know each other.

Partner reading is a fun and effective strategy to help young readers with fluency, comprehension, and other literacy skills. In addition to reading skills development, there are other benefits of implementing partner reading, such as helping students work together and encouraging cooperative learning. If you’d like to try this strategy in the classroom or at home, here’s how to implement effective partner reading: 

  • Pair students
  • Suggest “get to know you” questions
  • Determine the instructions
  • Set an error-correction procedure
  • Toss in variables
  • Have partners ask each other questions
  • Teach students to praise each other
  • Monitor and offer support to student pairs

Learn more below about how to implement these effective partner reading strategies.

Pair students 

There are a couple of different ways you can pair students – either by the same reading ability or pair high-level readers with low-level readers. To use the latter pairing strategy, start by listing your students from highest to lowest reading ability. Then, divide your list in half. Pair the top student in the top half with the top student in the bottom half, and so on until all students have partners. It is important to look out for those students with special needs so you can adjust those pairings as needed.

If you’re using partner reading at home – like a parent with a child or sibling with a sibling – you can skip this step. 

Suggest “get to know you” questions

A key to successful partner reading implementation in the classroom is ensuring students are comfortable with their partners. To help break the ice, have them ask each other questions, like:

  • What is your name? (If they don’t know already.)
  • What is your favorite activity?
  • Do you have any siblings?
  • What books have you read before?

You can also skip this step for partner reading in your home.

Determine the instructions

The next step is to provide your pairs with directions on how to partner read. To determine the best implementation method for your classroom or home pairing, consider these questions:

  • Will partners read out loud?
  • Will they read simultaneously or take turns?
  • Will they take turns by paragraph, page, chapter, etc.?
  • Will the “coach” and “player” technique work

Set an error-correction procedure

Learning from peers has always been an effective partner reading strategy. Establish error-correction procedures that can help students notify their partners of errors and encourage self-correction. A couple of inexpensive reading tools for kids that can help correct reading errors at home and school are:

  1. Toobaloo Whisper Phone – use this tool to promote self-correction when partners are reading aloud
  2. Eye Lighter – this eye-tracking tool is ideal for helping partners keep their place when reading silently or aloud

Toss in variables

Once students are comfortable with the basics of partner reading, challenge them to switch it up! Varying speed is a simple variable to toss in the mix. Ask partners to read faster or slower when they are reading out loud together to help improve fluency. Another way to change it up is by having students switch between a “coach” and a “player” role to allow each partner the opportunity to provide and receive peer feedback.

Have partners ask each other questions

After reading, encourage each partner to ask questions to help improve comprehension. They can center on details from the story or even solicit opinions. For instance:

  • What was your favorite part?
  • Was anything surprising?
  • How did the passage or book make you feel?
  • Is there anything you didn’t understand?

Whether at home or school, asking questions can help facilitate reading-centered discussions that can keep partners engaged in the activity.

Teach students to praise each other

Positive reinforcement is especially helpful for young readers. This type of praise can help children build confidence in their skills and give them the courage to continue learning and challenging themselves. At the end of each partner reading activity, have all reading pairs compliment one (or more) thing their partner did well. You can even share the feedback with the entire class or the rest of your family if you’re practicing at home.

Monitor and offer support to student pairs

As the activity is in progress, teachers may choose to walk around to each pair and listen in. Seeing students in action presents an excellent opportunity to motivate, correct, and assess progress. You also have the option to switch partners or encourage them to add challenges as you deem necessary.

These tips for how to implement effective partner reading strategies at school or home can help students improve their reading skills and have fun too! For more reading and speech tools and tips for teachers, continue reading our blog.


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