Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Reading in roles - Collaborative reading task (with free resources!)



Reading can often become a very isolated activity in the schools. Regular classroom reading sessions are great for getting kids in the habit of reading, but children are social creatures and too often, such sessions involve sitting in silence with a book the child may or may not find interesting. Not many skills being developed there!

Reading at GCSE level and beyond requires a range of skills. Students have to read for meaning (hidden or otherwise) and form opinions. They will have to question a text, summarise it, clarify it to themselves and the examiner, and even make predictions about what the text implies will happen next.

You don't have to wait until the students are studying GCSE English to teach these skills... you can start as early as primary school!

Ever heard of the reciprocal reading roles? 
If you're a subscriber to our magazine, you'll be familiar with this reading task as it's often featured in the free cross curricular project plan published with each issue.

The purpose of this activity is to encourage active thinking and reading through close examination of a text. This can be fiction, non-fiction, a short story, an extract from a novel, a historical account - anything you like!

This activity can be used by primary teachers in Years 3-6, and also in secondary schools, in years 7-9.

Here's how it works:

1. Split your class into groups of four (five, if absolutely necessary, but four is preferable).

2. Assign each student with the group a reading role. The roles are:
  • SUMMARISER – Think beyond what actually happens in the text. Identify the three most important events/details. Why are they important? Are they connected in any way?
  • QUESTIONER – Pose at least three questions which look at the text in depth. Try to ask open, challenging questions. Address confusions that will encourage thought and provoke discussion. 
  • CLARIFIER – Make a note of any words or phrases that will need to be checked. Are there any ideas or issues that need to be clarified to make the reading clear and easy to understand? To help to clarify, can you think of any ways that this section links with other sections and what you already know? 
  • PREDICTOR – Identify at least three text-related predictions, based on how your response to the text is developing. This will help your group to articulate what will happen next.
If there is a fifth group member, he or she becomes the group director, ensuring all the roles are undertaken conscientiously in the group.

3. Hand out the reading roles cards (these can be downloaded from our website here). These explain what each role entails in more detail. They will need to be cut out, beforehand if more convenient, and folded so they stand like place names. The tabs on the outer edges can be folded inwards to increase stability.

4. Each group member reads through the text from their assigned perspective. They work independently, taking responsibility for their own role, but in a collaborative way, discussing their findings with the group and making links between each role.

5. Students record their findings by contributing to the group record sheet (download this here). This grid can be photocopied at the end and distributed to each member for a permanent record.

You can download an alternative collection sheet here. This splits the main aspects of the text down into sections (i.e. key people, actions, locations, links). Students can then categorise their summary/clarifications/questions/prediction according to each area.




You many need to spend some time beforehand explaining the reciprocal reading roles to your students, but it won't be long before they've gotten the hang of it! This activity can be used over and over again, as students take on different roles and develop a wide range of reading skills, ready for use later on in their schooling.

This activity was designed by Jane Jones. Jane creates the cross curricular projects included for free with each issue of Creative Teaching and Learning magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine here.

Interested in our cross curricular projects?

Subscribers to Creative Teaching and Learning can access all our cross curricular projects for free. If you're not a subscriber, don't panic! You can purchase the projects for £36 each, no subscription required.


Projects available for purchase include:
The Titanic
The Olympics
Tutankhamun and the Ancient Egyptians

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