“Say something” reading strategy

While attending the Faculty Learning Community (FLC) today, I learned a new teaching technique I felt was worth sharing.  FLC is led by the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Libby Scheiern.  Today Libby modeled a reading strategy that we could use in our own classrooms.  The strategy is called “say something,” and this is how it works:

  1. With an assigned reading, the class decides how to “chunk” the reading into manageable parts to read. The best recommendation is by paragraphs or small sections. 
  2. Place students in pairs (student A and student B). (When I do this, I’m planning on strategically matching my pairs, but you could also have the pairs be random).
  3. Have the students read the first portion of the text independently and silently, and then have student A “say something” about the reading. When student A shares, one of the following can happen:
    • Make a personal connection to the reading
    • Pose a question about what has been read
    • Make a summary comment about the reading
  4. Student B is listening while student A shares.   The time is really for student A to verbalize his/her understanding, but naturally the students will engage in a dialogue about the text, and that is ok.
  5. Once student A is finished talking, the pair reads the next portion of the text silently, and then it will be student B’s turn to share on of the following:
    • Make a personal connection to the reading
    • Pose a question about what has been read
    • Make a summary comment about the reading

This process can continue to repeat until you feel they have read enough or understood enough of the reading.  Since the purpose of this activity is for students to practice their reading comprehension, students could do this activity outside of class.  Another variation is that students could both read and take turns discussing their talking points but then write a reflection on what they read and discussed.  

Since Libby had us do this activity, I felt I gained more understanding of the reading after I could talk about it.  I also found that I gained a different perspective when I was encouraged to listen to my partner share her ideas.  In fact, her interpretation of the text was so clear that I had a better understanding of the text.  I learned so much during this activity that I will definitely be having my students use this reading strategy!

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