Summary - Everything has pros and cons, just like "a coin has two sides!” This reading method, almost 200 years old, is gradually losing its importance ... due to its ineffective teaching style that breeds inequality in a learning environment, lack of engagement, etc. A lot more are briefed in this blog here, along with its history.

Teachers in the USA adopt many reading strategies, such as skimming, eco voice approach, and many more. This blog discusses the most popular reading approach:Popcorn Reading. In the USA, most teachers use this teaching approach when making students read long or short passages.

Usually, in this approach, a teacher randomly selects one student and tells them to read aloud; when their turn completes, the student says “popcorn!” to their classmates and selects a fellow student to read further. But nowadays, this teaching approach is gradually declining in its use in the USA. We discuss this issue in this blog. Start reading now! 

What is Popcorn Reading? 

Popcorn reading is also called round-robin reading. In the USA, the teacher uses group reading strategies for all students, including weaker and strong readers, who are asked to read aloud in class for some time.

When one student’s turn gets over, they loudly say “Popcorn!” for the other students to take turns to read the remaining stanza or passage from where the just-earlier student ends. But in this approach, the students don’t know when they will likely call up a fellow student to continue reading. Therefore, it is difficult to predict for the students when their turns come up.

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Where This Popcorn Reading Exists – A Brief History   

Popcorn reading or combat reading was popular in US academic culture until teachers found that reading ability among students was gradually declining. This popcorn reading concept came during the mid-20th century to improve students’ reading skills and let them assess their reading capability.  

You can find the source of popcorn reading in the “Language Arts Journal of Michigan,” which states that “this reading strategy was a very effective tool during those days to improve students’ reading skills, teaching them to read aloud.”  

Why Is the Popcorn Reading Strategy Dying?  

A teacher’s main motto is one-to-one teaching. In the popcorn method, the teacher selects a student for a loud reading. All students should be addressed an equal number of times, but this may not always happen. As a result, students’ reading performances might not improve over time.

Here are some disadvantages of following the popcorn reading method.  


Lack of Engagement 

One of the main demerits of the popcorn reading method is that students who are very shy and unwilling to read loud are sidelined more in the class as the teacher or the students might preferentially choose other readers.

Students might lose interest and may not like to be engaged in the particular topic read aloud by their peers. This tendency of shyness and an unwilling-to-read attitude can be a significant problem in developing good reading skills to understand the read material correctly. Know who invented exams.

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Lack of Engagement

Pressure and Anxiety

Popcorn reading arouses more pressure and anxiety in some students who struggle to read or are very introverted. Such students fear speaking in front of their peers and might find problems while participating in a popcorn reading method. As a result, they might feel embarrassed, affecting their motivation to learn. Know the importance of online learning

Pressure and Anxiety


Popcorn reading can create inequality among students because here, students are selected randomly by the teacher to read aloud. The well-versed students who love reading can often read a stanza or passage aloud. Those students who are weak and need more confidence in reading might be ignored and thus get less exposed to this style.

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Limited Assessment

 Popcorn reading only offers a partial learning assessment for assessing and improving reading abilities. This popcorn-style discussion gives more importance to fluency and pronunciation. But it does not focus on developing critical thinking or analysis skills among students, thereby decreasing the overall benefits of teaching. 

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Limited Assessment

Alternative Practices – A Better Way to Popcorn Reading  

There is a saying, “When there is will, there is a way. If this popcorn reading strategy is becoming irrelevant when used in a teaching style, many doors will open for you as a teacher. Many teaching strategies are there where you can use better alternatives to popcorn reading: small group discussions, choral reading, and student-led presentations, to name a few. 

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Alternative Practices – A Better Way to Popcorn Reading


 A teacher, when it comes to shaping a student’s foundational career, should not compromise. The teacher must impart learning adequately so that every student in a classroom gets benefited equally. In the US, the teachers are often more inclined to teach students using Popcorn Reading. But this tendency is now declining; teachers are gradually learning its negative consequences and adopting other better strategies like group discussions, choral reading, and student-led presentations.  

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do teachers do popcorn reading? 

The teacher uses this method for classroom teaching where students read aloud a specific stanza or passage,  say “popcorn,” and then select a peer to continue reading. Such a process is accepted mainly in the US for engaging students in reading comprehension and improving their fluency. 

2. What is better than round robin-reading? 

Many teaching substitutes are there than this round-robin reading strategy, such as:  

  • Small group discussions 
  • Interactive read-alouds 
  • Guided reading 

3. What is the popcorn questioning technique? 

The popcorn question technique includes asking questions; one must answer before being said “popped” by the individual who had asked a question.   

4. Why is there no round robin reading now? 

During the mid-20th century, it became more popular. The popcorn reading method is gradually losing its popularity, for it fosters an unequal learning environment.   

5. Is popcorn reading effective? 

Everything has its pros and cons! During popcorn reading, students have the scope to attain better reading fluency. But somehow, the method has other drawbacks: 

  • Fostering an unequal learning environment
  • Inducing more anxiety and pressure among students; sometimes, students feel embarrassed
  • Lack of engagement in learning 

6. Does round robin improve fluency? 

Yes. Round robin reading enhances reading fluency. 

7. What are the disadvantages of round robins? 

There are many disadvantages, such as: 

  • Fostering an unequal learning environment
  • Encouraging poor critical thinking skills 
  • Inviting embarrassment for poor readers  

8. What are the issues with the Round Robin reading strategy?

 The primary issue with popcorn reading is that it reduces the critical thinking skills of a student, who only needs to improve at reading because of being dominated by fellow students who are reading experts. 

Paul Erick Ivey