Sunday, March 9

Partner Reading Tips

Partner Reading is one of those times that can lose it's power unless you have intentionally built a little structure. Here are five helpful tips for increasing the quality of Partner Talk during Partner Reading.

Reading Workshop

My firsties keep building their Private Reading stamina and I'm so proud of them! During Private Reading, students are reading books that THEY have shopped for from our classroom library that are at their independent reading level. (The one or two levels just below their instructional level.)

After Private Reading is over, students have Partner Reading time with their reading partner who is reading at a similar-ish reading level. Personality and work ethic are also weighed while developing partnerships.

Grouping by similar-ish reading level is NOT the only way to partner kiddos up. I found that at the beginning of the year, when students had fairly vast differences in their levels, it made choral reading a lot easier if readers were working in similar levels.

Currently, there's a bit more similarISHness to the partnerships...meaning, kids are tackling more difficult text at this stage of the year, so partnerships involve a wider range of reading levels.

I use my conferring notes to figure out the example right now is a student working in level J who tends to have a speedy pace, which doesn't allow for using his "narrator voice." He is partnered up with a more expressive reader who is reading several levels below him. It has been working really well and they actually COACH one another on their specific goals. LOVE!

Building quality into our Partner Reading has taken time and effort, on my part and the students! And there is ALWAYS room for tweaking and improvement!

Before I get to each specific tip, I want to share the absolute number one foundational tip for successful partner reading...

I can't say enough about this.


That said...please know that I am NEVER coming from a place that I am better than ANYone else!!! I sincerely appreciate variety and differences and would LOVE to hear your suggestions, ideas and tips!

I'm also always open to questions...sometimes I answer them directly below your comment using that Reply feature...other times they lead me to new post topics.

Partner Reading Tip 1

This menu has changed over the course of the year. This is what it looks like currently:

When I haven't provided an element of structure, the conversation has been of lower quality.

Some of the great things I've heard recently, using the first menu suggestion...

"This is the most hilarious part..."

"Here is the most thrilling part..."

LOVE hearing them use their Precise Words!!!

Partner Reading Tip 2

At the beginning of the year, Partner Reading was 3-4 mn. Now, it's 5-7 mn. The longer they have, the more tangential the conversations become. Common Core wants readers to stay within the four corners of the text, so I tend to keep it brief, with a bit of accountability.

We have a big visual timer in our room and I set it each day.

Partner Reading Tip 3

At least two times a week, I make a point of roaming around and listening carefully to the conversations (while trying not to make it appear too obvious to the pair (or trio) that I'm eavesdropping on.

The days that I don't roam it's because I'm finishing up with (or squeezing in one more) individual conference, guided reading or strategy group.

When I have roamed to eavesdrop on conversations, when the timer beeps, I share the quality snippets that I've heard with the rest of the class.

Partners ADORE their shout outs!!! And I love their beaming faces...or even the sweet face that is beaming but a little self-conscious about it and trying a wee bit to contain it. What sweethearts!

Partner Reading Tip 4

The bulletin board below is made using 5x7 sized Post-It Notes so that I can change them out to match our current Reading Workshop Unit.

This is what our sentence stem ideas are currently...

When I read aloud, I use these stems to share my thinking and have students ask me questions from the board so we can practice having a conversation similar to what they should be doing in Partner Reading.

The kids LOVE being the one who asks...they especially love asking, "And what is your evidence, Mrs. Mattes?" Cuties.

I'll also have them CONTINUE the conversation by adding and building on what I have said. Sometimes these conversations have lots of "volleys" where a student (or students) and I have had several exchanges to build upon the topic.

Partner Reading Tip 5

We re-visit and update these as needed...this set is what we're currently working from...
Again, we're especially looking for kiddos to stay within the text and BUILD on the conversation with their partner rather than veer away from it. I realllly look for those types of conversations to highlight and shout out!

Another way to help readers be accountable to this is to utilize the iPad. We are blessed to have 8 iPads in our classroom, which means that many partnerships can record their conversations if they're taught how to set up and record their conversation using the video feature.

Students that feel they've conducted a model conversation can request that their conversation be mirrored to the Smartboard for the class to see and provide feedback.

Powerful stuff.

When kids plan ahead, they use mini sticky notes to mark their work in their Reading Notebook and to mark the specific pages in their books that they'd like to discuss.

Thanks for stopping by today! Please share a Partner Reading Tip below, so we can all learn from each other!


  1. GREAT ideas, Lisa!! I especially love the partner reading board. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  2. Such an important post! We do partner reading everyday and these steps are key to implementation. Thanks so much! Em

  3. I love your sentences stem board! Stems for asking and stems for answering. Perfect!

  4. Lisa, I like the idea of a partner reading time. We use Daily 5 and it is one of the choices the students have during that time. However, since I am working with groups or individuals, it is hard to hear the conversations. I do know that I need to model these conversations more and I love the board to give them suggestions!

    The Resourceful Apple

  5. I love these ideas!! 37 minutes for firsties is awesome, my friend!! Look at you!! This could so be an SDE presentation!!
    Peace, Love, and First Grade

  6. I love how you have structured this time, Lisa! Thanks so much for sharing your awesomeness, friend!

    Mrs, Rios Teaches Second Grade

  7. Love this post, Lisa! You are such a wealth of knowledge and I just devour all of your reading and writing posts! I love your reading board and all of your visuals. I wish I could be a fly on the wall during your reading and writing workshop!!

  8. This truly is a "bright idea" for me! Thanks so much for this great tip on structuring partner reading time and thank you for sharing!

  9. I agree with Linda! I would love to come observe in your classroom. I use Daily 5 as well, but I think a partner reading lesson is in order to make it run much smoother! Thanks so much for your great ideas!

    Corinna (✿◠‿◠)
    Surfin' Through Second

  10. I love your 'Partner Reading Board' it looks like a great addition to any primary classroom wall! Your ideas work great with Daily 5!

    Seconds at the Beach

  11. I just hear those firsties asking you for your evidence! :) What a great post!!! Thanks for some really cool ideas to try out!
    Funky Fresh Firsties

  12. What an informative post! Thanks for taking the time to share :)

  13. These are wonderful! Love the sentence stem board! Thanks for the ideas!

    The Second Grade Superkids

  14. I love your posters and reminders to the students about protocols and procedures for partner reading... I especially like the Partners Ask/ Partners Tell reminder. Great post!

    Granny Goes to School

  15. These are great! I love the idea for getting them to use precise terms. Besides giving them something to talk about, it's a good way to strengthen vocabulary.

  16. I would love enjoying time outside with my family especially at the beach.

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  18. What a great giveaway! I love the sun in the spring. There's something about it that motivates me to get moving, even if winter was fairly sunny. There's just something different about the spring sun!


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