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Partner Reading and Content, Too Routine (PRC2)

I'm a hoarder.

There, I've said it.

I try to deny that I'm a hoarder but it comes back to haunt me every time I move houses, or pack up my classroom at the end of the school year.

I have old articles, lesson plans, handouts, folders brimming with teaching ideas, past issues of profesional journals. I hardly throw anything out though I've learned to be more selective over the years. My one rule of thumb, and I really try to stick to this, is that if I haven't used or referred to something in a year, then it's time to toss it into the recycle bin. One exception to this rule (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) is past issues of journals from professional organizations. However, with the ability to locate articles online through my professional memberships, even this exception is becoming less and less useful, which brings me to the topic of this blog post.

I am currently reading a copy of The Reading Teacher from 2010. I've clipped a couple of informative and useful articles from this issue and other issues, as well as from other professional journals that I will be writing blog posts about over the coming weeks. Today I want to talk about Supporting English Language Learners and Struggling Readers in Content Literacy with the 'Partner Reading and Content, too' Routine by Donna Ogle and Amy Correa-Kovtun. Donna Ogle is the originator of the K-W-L strategy that many of us have used during content area instruction over the years. This more recent strategy, or routine, helps ESL students focus on content area strategies for enhancing comprehension and improving vocabulary in math, science, and social studies. 

The PRC2 is based on the following well-documented premises from research:
  • Students need to read text every day that is at their instructional or independent level and that is of interest to them. Of course, what is "instructional" or "independent" can be determined in many different ways from formal testing or teacher observations through conferring with students.
  • Students need many opportunities to use academic vocabulary so that they feel comfortable enough to use it independently.
  • When students formulate and then respond to their own questions, they learn more.
  • Facts are important in content learning but knowing just facts is not enough. Students must have multiple opportunities to apply what they know using critical thinking strategies, as well.
  • Teachers need to teach non fiction structures that will allow students to enhance their comprehension and increase their facility with content area vocabulary.
The PRC2 routine is fairly simple to implement in the classroom. In fact, if you are familiar with the Daily 5, PRC2 is similar to Read to Someone, except that in PRC2 students with similar reading levels and interests pair up to read an informational book. In Read to Someone, children have many more choices than in PRC2, including with whom to read and what to read (fiction vs. non fiction). That is why it's critical for students to understand why they are engaging in PRC2: so they can gain better understanding of their content area units of study and to increase related vocabulary.

In PRC2, pairs of students take turns reading two pages in a row to each other after previewing the text. This conversation before reading is critical to help build background knowledge and anticipation of what will be read. Before one of the partners reads two pages out loud, they both read the text silently. The child doing the reading at any given time needs to prepare a question to ask his or her partner that will hopefully start a conversation about what was read. The question is either created on the spot or from a list of questions that the class has created together. Then, it's the other child's turn. Partners move back and forth taking turns until the book is finished. Last, but not least, both students add new words from their reading to a vocabulary notebook.

This routine provides many opportunities to teach children not only non fiction text structures but also how to take turns, ask questions, how to respectfully disagree, ask follow up questions, and find evidence in the text. I am planning to use this routine with my ESL students this coming school year.

What do you think? Is this a routine you might try with your students? I'd love to read your comments.

Ogle, D. and Correa-Kovtun, A. (2010), Supporting English-Language Learners and Struggling Readers in Content Literacy With the “Partner Reading and Content, Too” Routine. The Reading Teacher, 63: 532–542. doi: 10.1598/RT.63.7.1

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers SOL.



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