Paired Reading, Alternate Reading
The teacher, a parent, or a youngster who is a more proficient reader is paired with a student who needs assistance. The student chooses the book to be read. The book selected should be one that the student would have difficulty reading on her own. After a brief discussion of the title and cover illustration, the teacher and student read the book aloud together. The teacher adjusts her reading rate so it matches that of the student. When the student feels that she can read a portion of the text on her own, she signals the teacher by raising her left hand.
When she wants the teacher to resume reading with her, she raises her right hand. The teacher provides assistance when the student stumbles over a word or is unable to read the word within 5 seconds. The help provided is given quickly and directly without any judgmental comments. The teacher simply says the word and has the student say it. The reading then continues. Quick correction alleviates the student's anxiety and keeps the activity moving (Topping, 1987; 1989). The teacher also praises and encourages the student periodically. Explaining the effectiveness of paired teaching, Topping (1987) states: "The reading together aspect, coupled with the availability of virtually immediate support, frees many children from word by word decoding and enables them to read much more fluently" (p. 611).
As an alternative to paired reading, the teacher, parent, or tutor may take turns reading the selection. The teacher reads the first page, and the student reads the second page. Or the teacher might read the difficult parts, and the pupil reads the easy parts. The teacher also supplies whatever help the student needs. For instance, if the student stumbles over a word, the teacher tells the student the word or helps the student to figure out the word. The teacher also explains difficult or confusing passages and discusses key events in the story from time to time. Knapp (1998) found that parents and tutors as well as teachers were able to implement this technique with a high degree of success.
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