Children gather on the rug. As the children come, I take a book and I go to the rug and sit next to a student. Would you like to read with me? As I sit, I position my body next to the child and place the book between us as I read the pages. The class is curious why I am reading from the floor since I usually sit in my chair, but I do not give any reasons. I get up and move to another child, and ask if he would like to read with me. This time I sit facing the child and put the book between us. The child across from me cannot see the pictures and is feeling frustrated. I finish reading and then return to my chair. I ask the first child, "How did you feel when I read with you?. Did you like when I sat next to you and shared the book?" Then I ask the second child, "How did you feel when you were reading with me? Was it easy for us to share the book this way?"
Elbow to elbow, Knee to knee is a learning strategy in which students work in pairs, side-by-side or face-to-face with knees touching. In this way, they can provide effective feedback to each other.
Which way would you prefer to read with a friend? Why do you think that one way is better than the other?
These comments are written on a chart. I build onto a new I-chart that is titled "What Read-to-Someone Looks Like". One side is marked "Good" and the other "Bad". After we determine which way is best, I have a couple of students model what that would look like.
I need two helpers who think they can model our paired reading like we just talked about. Give me a thumbs-up or down so I can see what you think of our actors. Did they follow the model that we set? This type of reading is called "elbow-to-elbow, knee-to-knee reading" or EEKK! because of your body positions. Listen to this rhyme. I read to them the rhyme on the EEKK! chart. Now I want you to echo chant the rhyme with me. It is your turn to model elbow-to-elbow, knee-to-knee with a buddy--Go!
Okay, everyone, let's regroup. we are going to discuss what our voices might sound like in this activity. If we are sitting closely with our friends, how loudly would we need to talk? We will be playing a game with our elbow-to-elbow buddy called "The Smallest Voice Ever". The challenge is to talk as quietly as you can, but still have your buddy hear your voice clearly. The children play this for a couple of minutes and then I ask if there is anything we want to add to our chart. If so, I write that down on the appropriate side, and then review the entire chart. Who would like to share something they noticed during the activity?
The last part of the lesson addresses how to pick a partner that will help us learn. Look back at our I-chart, and think about how a partner can affect the way we learn. If we are supposed to sit still, would we want a partner that is rolling around on the floor? If our voices are supposed to the smallest voices ever, would a friend who talks loudly and constantly be the best choice for them? What do we do if the partner we pick does not follow our rules for EEKK! time? How do we handle that? I really want the children to think about this, so I try not to supply the answers. The children now get their book boxes and find a EEKK! buddy to read with for 10 minutes (small increments at the beginning and building to longer periods throughout the year.)
During this time, the children are Reading together and practicing Read-to-Someone (EEKK!), so the teacher is listening in on conversations and helping struggling students make adjustments. The teacher watches to see if the children have made good partner choices and if they are following the guidelines that the class created.