How to Implement the Shadow Reading Teaching Strategy in Your Classroom
The shadow reading method provides a formatted way to expose learners to various perspectives on a complex topic, often through first-person accounts from individuals who experienced a particular event or era. It also provides a chance for learners to practice analyzing the concept of point of view.
- Read All Texts: Each learner reads all of the content included in this learning activity. Often instructors will use only two texts to keep the learning activity focused on the two most common opposing viewpoints on a given issue. However, it may also be appropriate to select more than two texts, depending on the content being used. You must provide guiding questions ahead of time to ensure that learners focus on the parts of each piece of content that provide information about the author or narrator’s perspective on a particular issue.
- Compose A Dialogue: Ask learners to imagine a meeting between two authors or narrators with opposing viewpoints. Learners must utilize the texts they examined in the first part of the learning activity to help them compose dialogue for such a conversation. Depending on the content of the texts learners read in the first step, select some of the following questions for learners to answer in the dialogue:
- How would these two people begin a conversation?
- What would be the theme of their conversation?
- What do you believe each person would want the other to know and understand concerning their beliefs and life experiences?
- How would each person defend their position?
- What emotions would each person feel, and how would they express them?
- Is there a common ground that they could discuss?
- What may they share? What may they want to hide?
- Share: Invite pairs to act out their dialogue in front of the class. Next, have learners consider what the conversations have in common. What do they add to the class’s comprehension of the issue or historical period under study?
- Letter Writing: Instead of creating a dialogue between two people, you can ask learners to adopt one perspective and write a letter to a person with an opposing viewpoint. Once learners have read the texts, ask them to do the following:
- Adopt One Perspective: Ask learners to adopt the perspective of the author or narrator from one of the pieces of content. It is best to assign each learner to a specific view rather than allowing learners to select for themselves.
- Address an Opposing Perspective: Adopting the perspective assigned to them, learners then address the author of the opposing view, typically by writing a letter in which the learner explains their position on the central issue.
- Share: Learners need to hear examples of what people wrote. The easiest way to accomplish this is to have learners read their letters in front of the class. This can lead to worthwhile discussions about perspective and can help call attention to specific ideas or experiences that contributed to the complexity of a particular issue or period. Typically, this step works best when learners hear from alternating perspectives. As learners read, you may want to keep a running list of examples cited on either side of an issue. You may also have learners complete this step in small groups. Using small groups is useful when you are working with more than two pieces of content.
- Utilize Another Medium: Rather than having learners analyze a piece of content, you may also have them view or listen to another source that conveys a particular perspective.