Silent Reading: What’s Going On Inside?

bigoceanlinerThe student is silent. Eyes flick across the page. The page turns. It’s a good book. What could go wrong?

Silent reading is a good thing, but it isn’t teaching. It might be learning, but you don’t know that.

In class, reading is important, but you need to see the workings. You could assess at the end, but that’s too late. The best way is to get readers reading aloud and talking about what they have read. 

Traditional reading aloud is a one-to-many process. Everyone has to listen to the reader. Some readers are weak and slow, so you can’t pick them very often, even though they need it the most.

Cooperative reading strategies provide one solution. Learners read in pairs: one person reads aloud, and the other has to do something with what has been read. Then they swap. Two powerful strategies are summarising and questioning. Both are simple strategies that have a strong evidence base.

At any moment, 50% of the class are reading and 50% are practicing effective reading strategies. And the teacher can listen in. You can still do an assessment at the end, but at least you know what’s been going on in the time leading up to it. Save silent reading for homework.



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