My 2nd graders and I are in the middle of a TCRWP unit about reading longer books. Last week my students were working in “Same Book Partnerships” to read longer books. Some partners were reading early chapter books for the first time like Horrible Harry and others were reading more challenging chapter books like Ivy and Bean and A-Z Mysteries. Partners would stop and check in after each chapter so they could ask questions, retell, and make predictions. Later in the week students learned to use sticky notes to jot the most important event in a chapter, or invented other ways to help themselves keep track of what is happening. It was really inspiring to watch. Everyone was engaged in their books, asking questions, and giving tips to their partner. It was another example of how much kids learn by working with their peers.
As I was sitting down to plan the next week of reading instruction, I began to worry. Everything was going so smoothly; I am hesitant for students to be on their own again. Are they all ready for this? Should I keep the partnerships going for another week?
Then I realized the answer. I heard this great teaching reminder multiple times this year. “Make sure you have a plan to remove the scaffold.” That was it! I didn’t have a plan to remove the scaffold of working with a partner; I was just going to remove it entirely! That will work for some, but for most, it will have a negative effect because all of the confidence they built up over last week might turn into frustration.
Ah-ha! I thought. Here is my plan. On Monday I will have student still work in their “Same Book Partnerships”, but I will help them gradually become less dependent on their partner. The first step will be still making a plan to check in with a partner, but less frequently. Instead of stopping to talk to a partner after every chapter, maybe stop and talk every 2 or 3 chapters. Finally it will be a check in with a partner at the end of Independent Reading, and then after the book is finished.
It is such simple advice, but it is so easy to forget! I am excited to try out my plan and help my students become more independent readers!