Addition to ROA Step 6

I now call step 6 of ROA “Reading from the Back of the Room”. It is R and D on steroids. I repeat that this is about the best kind of reading CI I have ever done, and the entire ROA reading sequence (find it in the Primers or search it here or find the category), once you have a story on which to base it, is bad to the bone. So here is the current version of Step 6 the ROA sequence:
*6. Reading from the Back of the Classroom – It is clear so far that each of these steps in ROA have significant pedagogical value. But this step has the most. This is where you get the most bang for your buck from the reading. In this Step 6 work, we keep the story projected but physically turn the kids away from it to where you are sitting in the back of the classroom. They have to turn away from the text. Their bodies and eyes have to be facing me. What this does is shift their minds from the passive reading process (during which, if lots of narrow and deep work has preceded it, has put the students in full command of the projected text), to their speech output sides. It’s amazing how it happens.
So with the kids facing you in the back of the room, starting from the first paragraph of the reading, I start an in depth paragraph by paragraph repetition of the entire story. I intensely circled each paragraph of the text with very clear and slow yes/no questioning of individual students during the group discussion. They can’t help but speak because their focus is on sound now and not reading. I stop at the end of each paragraph to let them turn and face the text for a moment to “reload” their knowledge of the text in order to get ready for the coming R and D on that new paragraph.
This process can take 90 minutes. But it works! It piles repetition upon repetition. We can play with each line in many ways, asking direct content questions about the text but also creating parallel questions by bringing in discussion of how a student in our class may compare or not with the characters in the story. Slowly we work our way through the text. This is big work, a great new addition to ROA. I feel that when I am doing this step of ROA I am doing the best job of teaching my language that is possible. The students look at me providing answers to what are some very sophisticated questions in the TL. I hold each kid accountable and have super contact with my barometers. Bam!
There is an entirely different dynamic when they face you and not the projected text. When they read it they interact with the text but when they can’t see it they are forced into interacting with you verbally in the language This is real conversation in the TL, set up beautifully by all the narrow and deep reps gotten up to this point in the ROA process. When they face you and discuss the text that is right behind them it is the real deal.
In Step 5 above the students are looking at the text and interacting with you verbally and in terms of the grammar, whereas in Step 6 you have switched from being in front to the rear of the classroom as per the above. The difference in what is learned is huge. Step 5 sets up Step 6. In Step 6 you teach for real output. It’s thrilling!



2 thoughts on “Addition to ROA Step 6”

  1. I totally agree with this. I have done this with the past couple of stories and it is powerful. Having the kids look at you feels more like a conversation and you can really tell who is with you and who is not. I just sit on my stool in the back of the room and connect with them.
    I ask questions about the text and I also discuss personal questions so that I can get to know the kids better. They are all totally zoned in and seem to really enjoy this new aspect of reading.

  2. Hey Polly. I’m not surprised. This back of the room thing is the good stuff, right? It’s the best. BUT there has to be a lot of scaffolded reading beforehand, which is why there are five reading steps before we even get to it in the ROA process. Thanks for the validation!

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