Discover 6 Better Classroom Strategies to Try: What is Popcorn Reading?Discover 6 Better Classroom Strategies to Try: What is Popcorn Reading?

Change is a constant for every teacher. As educators, we need to adapt our teaching methods to benefit the ever-changing needs of our students. When it comes to reading, the traditional teacher-led approach of whole-class readings has been the golden standard for many years. However, there are alternative strategies that can significantly improve the learning outcomes for both struggling and proficient readers.

One of these alternatives is popcorn reading. Popcorn reading is a classroom activity where students take turns reading out loud. Rather than the teacher leading the reading, students read a paragraph or a page and then “pop” by choosing another student to continue. This student then reads their assigned section and chooses another student, creating a round-robin style of reading that keeps everyone engaged.

But what’s the real meaning behind popcorn reading? The key is to repeat and enjoy the readings. By giving students the opportunity to read aloud, they can practice their comprehension skills, improve their pronunciation, and develop a better understanding of the text. Popcorn reading also works well for students with dyslexia, as the repetition and shared responsibility combat the challenges they may face.

Another popular option is choral reading, where the whole class reads a passage or a text together, like a choir. This activity creates a warm-up for the students, as it provides an overview of the material and sets the tone for the lesson. It’s a great way to save time, as choral reading allows students to quickly go through the material without the need for individual turns.

Origins of popcorn reading can be traced back to the early 1900s, when teachers started incorporating this technique as a way to engage students and promote reading fluency. Today, popcorn reading and choral reading are still widely used in classrooms, but there are better alternatives that can cater to the diverse needs of every student and create a more inclusive and interactive learning environment.

So what are these better alternatives? Let’s explore 6 strategies that can bring a fresh perspective to your reading instruction:

1. Round Robin Reading with a Twist: Instead of students taking turns, assign specific sections to different groups of students. Each group is responsible for reading their assigned part aloud and explaining its meaning to the rest of the class. This way, everyone gets a chance to participate and improve their understanding of the text.

2. Earworms and Repetition: Incorporate catchy songs or chants that relate to the text. By repeating these earworms, students will be more likely to remember the key information and enjoy the learning process.

3. Silent Reading and Partner Sharing: Allow students to read silently for a set amount of time and then ask them to discuss what they’ve read with a partner. This activity encourages independent thinking and collaboration while still focusing on comprehension.

4. Guided Reading Groups: Divide students into small groups based on their reading levels. Assign a specific text to each group and provide guided instruction and support as they read together. This allows for personalized instruction and targeted assistance for struggling readers.

5. Better Times for Oral Reading: Incorporate oral reading activities at better times during the day, such as morning warm-ups or after lunch when students are more energized and focused. This way, they are more likely to engage with the reading material and benefit from the activity.

6. Nest Reading: Use a combination of individual, partner, and whole-class reading activities to create a nested approach. This way, students get the benefits of both independent reading and shared learning, ensuring a well-rounded reading experience.

What is Popcorn Reading?

Popcorn Reading, also known as Round Robin Reading, is a common classroom reading activity where a passage or a story is read aloud by students, each taking turns to read a few sentences or paragraphs. It is an alternative to teacher-led reading or one-to-one reading, and it is often used as a warm-up or a way to practice reading skills.

In this activity, the teacher assigns a passage or a story to be read orally by students. The teacher starts by reading a few sentences or paragraphs, and then selects the next student to continue reading. This “popcorn” pattern continues until the entire passage or story is read. Students can either pass the reading “popcorn” to the person next to them or choose someone else in the class to read next. This activity allows for some flexibility in terms of who reads and in what order.

While Popcorn Reading can be engaging and fun, there are some potential drawbacks to consider. First, it may not be the best strategy for struggling readers or students with reading difficulties, as they may feel embarrassed or overwhelmed when asked to read aloud in front of the class. Additionally, the activity doesn’t provide individual attention or focused practice on specific reading skills. Some students may tend to “tune out” during the reading of others and may not be actively engaged in the activity.

In recent years, educators have been exploring alternative strategies to Popcorn Reading. Here are 6 better classroom strategies to consider:

  1. Paired Reading: Pairing students up to read a passage together, taking turns reading aloud. This provides a supportive and collaborative learning environment.
  2. Buddy Reading: Pairing an older student with a younger student, where the older student reads to the younger one. This promotes mentorship and helps develop reading skills.
  3. Student Read-Aloud: Allowing students to choose a passage or a story to read aloud to the class. This increases student agency and encourages engagement.
  4. Drama Readings: Having students act out a passage or a story, bringing it to life and making it more interactive and engaging.
  5. Chorus Reading: Having the entire class read a passage or a story together, either in unison or using different voices for different characters. This encourages participation and teamwork.
  6. Alternative Readings: Providing different texts at various reading levels for students to choose from, allowing them to read something that aligns with their interests and abilities.

In a nutshell, while Popcorn Reading can be a good warm-up activity, it may not be the most effective strategy for developing reading skills or promoting engagement. Considering the various alternatives mentioned above, educators can find better ways to meet the diverse needs of their students and create a more inclusive and enjoyable reading experience.

What are your thoughts about Popcorn Reading? Have you tried any of the alternatives mentioned above? Let us know!

The Benefits of Popcorn Reading

Popcorn reading is a commonly used practice in classrooms where students take turns reading a passage orally, either individually or as a group. While this approach is usually used to improve students’ reading skills, there are better alternatives that have been backed by research.

1. Improved Comprehension

One of the reasons why popcorn reading is considered a bad practice is that students may lose the meaning of the passage while they are waiting for their turn to read. When students are focused on waiting for their turn, they may not pay attention to the actual content being read. This can result in students being unable to fully understand and comprehend the text.

2. More Engaging Practices

Popcorn reading does not provide a guided and caring approach to reading. It can be embarrassing for students who struggle with reading or those who may not feel comfortable reading aloud. By using alternative approaches such as paired reading or echo reading, students can receive more support and feel more engaged in the reading activity.

3. Reducing Interruptions

4. Equal Participation

Popcorn reading may result in some students being read to more often than others. This can create an imbalance in class dynamics and can make certain students feel left out. By using reciprocal teaching or other group-based activities, all students have the opportunity to actively participate and engage in the reading process.

5. Improved Confidence

Popcorn reading can be intimidating for students who may be self-conscious about their reading abilities. By using alternative approaches that focus on building confidence, such as shared reading or using study guides, students can feel more comfortable and confident in their reading skills.

6. Research-Backed Approaches

Research has shown that popcorn reading is not an effective practice for improving reading skills. Many educators have claimed that there are better alternatives that have been researched and proven to be more successful. Implementing these alternative approaches, such as whole-class reading or small group discussions, can lead to better reading outcomes for students.

In a nutshell, while popcorn reading is a commonly used practice, there are significant reasons why it is not the best approach for improving students’ reading skills. By using research-backed alternatives and implementing more engaging and supportive practices, educators can create a more effective learning environment for their students.

How Popcorn Reading Works

Popcorn Reading is a common classroom reading activity where students take turns reading aloud. The name “Popcorn Reading” comes from the idea that it is similar to how popcorn pops randomly.

In this activity, students read a passage or a section of text out loud, and then “pop” by calling out the name of the next person to read. This continues until everyone in the class has had a turn to read.

The traditional Popcorn Reading approach has some drawbacks and may not be the most effective method for meeting the needs of all students. Here are 6 better strategies to try:

  1. One-to-One Reading: Instead of a whole group activity, consider having students read one-on-one with a partner. This allows for individualized support and personalized attention.

  2. Reciprocal Reading: Divide the class into small groups and assign specific roles to each student, such as summarizer, clarifier, predictor, and questioner. This promotes better comprehension and engagement among students.

  3. Guided Reading: Use a guided reading approach where teachers provide targeted instruction to small groups of students who are at a similar reading level. This helps to meet the specific needs of each student.

  4. Warm-up Activities: Start the class with a short warm-up activity that focuses on building necessary skills, such as phonics, vocabulary, or fluency. This prepares students for the reading task at hand.

  5. Silent Reading: Give students the opportunity to read silently and independently. This allows them to practice their reading skills at their own pace and reflect on the content. Afterwards, have students share their thoughts and discuss the concepts orally.

  6. Pause and Discuss: Stop periodically during the reading and ask comprehension questions or engage in a classroom discussion. This helps to enhance understanding and keep students actively involved.

In a nutshell, Popcorn Reading can be a fun and engaging activity, but it may not be the most effective for meeting the diverse needs of students. By prioritizing strategies such as one-to-one reading, reciprocal reading, guided reading, warm-up activities, silent reading, and pause and discuss, teachers can create a better learning environment and support students in developing their reading skills.

Better Classroom Strategies to Try

While popcorn reading may be a common method used in education, there are some alternative strategies that would better meet the needs of students. Some older students, students with dyslexia, and English language learners (ELLs) may struggle with traditional popcorn readings. These students may benefit from strategies that provide more support and accommodate their learning styles.

One alternative strategy is the round-robin reading, where students take turns reading aloud. The teacher can support this activity by having the students read from guided reading sheets, which contain words and phrases that support current learning objectives. This strategy allows students to practice reading in a supportive and structured environment.

Another strategy to try is the choral reading, where the whole class reads a passage together. This can help students with dyslexia or ELLs by providing echo reading and a chance to work on fluency. The teacher can also provide support by slightly slowing down the pace of the reading. This strategy can improve comprehension and allow students to read along with their peers.

7 earworms is another strategy that can be used to enhance learning. This involves students listening to catchy songs or rhymes related to the topic being studied. The repetitive nature of the songs helps students remember concepts and improves retention. This strategy is particularly helpful for auditory learners who benefit from hearing information.

For students who struggle with answering questions after readings, the reciprocal teaching strategy can be used. This involves the teacher and students taking turns leading discussions about the text. The teacher models questioning, summarizing, clarifying, and predicting, while students take on these roles as well. This strategy helps students develop critical thinking skills and deeper understanding.

Finally, using drama and role-play can engage students and make readings more interactive. Students can act out scenes from a text, bringing the characters and their actions to life. This strategy allows students to immerse themselves in the text and have a deeper understanding of the content. It also provides an opportunity for kinesthetic learners to actively participate and accomplish tasks.

In conclusion, there are various classroom strategies that can be used as alternatives to popcorn reading. These strategies cater to different learning styles and support students who may struggle with traditional methods. By implementing these strategies, teachers can create a more inclusive and effective learning environment.


What is popcorn reading?

Popcorn reading is a reading strategy where students take turns reading out loud in a random or unpredictable order.

What are some better classroom strategies to try instead of popcorn reading?

Some better classroom strategies to try instead of popcorn reading are choral reading, partner reading, echo reading, shared reading, and silent reading followed by discussion.

Why is popcorn reading bad?

Popcorn reading is considered bad because it creates anxiety and pressure for students, doesn’t promote comprehension or fluency, and may result in students losing interest in reading.

What are the disadvantages of popcorn reading?

The disadvantages of popcorn reading include unequal participation, embarrassment for struggling readers, lack of engagement, and limited focus on comprehension.

How can popcorn reading negatively affect students?

Popcorn reading can negatively affect students by increasing their anxiety about reading aloud, hindering their fluency development, and reducing their overall motivation to engage with texts.

What is popcorn reading?

Popcorn reading is a classroom strategy where students take turns reading aloud from a text. Instead of following a set order, students “popcorn” read by calling out the name of another student to take over reading.

Why is popcorn reading bad?

Popcorn reading can be detrimental to the learning experience for several reasons. Firstly, it puts students on the spot and can cause anxiety or embarrassment. Additionally, it disrupts the flow of reading and makes it difficult for students to comprehend the text. Finally, it does not encourage active participation or engagement from all students.

What are some better classroom strategies to try instead of popcorn reading?

There are several alternative strategies that can enhance the reading experience in the classroom. One option is choral reading, where the whole class reads a text aloud together. Another strategy is silent reading, where students read independently and then discuss the text as a group. Shared reading, where the teacher reads aloud while students follow along, is also effective. Additionally, partner reading, audio-assisted reading, and reader’s theater are all alternative strategies that promote engagement and comprehension.

How can popcorn reading negatively affect students?

Popcorn reading can have negative effects on students in several ways. It can cause anxiety and embarrassment for students who struggle with reading aloud, leading to a fear of participation in class. The disruptive nature of popcorn reading can also hinder comprehension and make it challenging for students to follow along with the text. Additionally, it can create an environment where only a few students actively participate while others disengage.