In this final post in our fluency series, we look at how to use the research-backed practice of repeated reading!
Repeated reading is reading the same text multiple times until a certain (or better) level of fluency is reached.
We’ve known since the 1970’s that repeated reading improves fluency. It helps readers achieve automaticity – so that they can decode without thinking about decoding (Shanahan, 2017).
in 1979, J. Samuels (one of the big names when it comes to fluency research) asked students with learning difficulties to read a short passage orally several times. With each reading, students had greater accuracy, speed and comprehension.
But here’s the best part: as students were given other passages of equal or greater difficulty, their first readings of these passages were better than their first reading of the initial passage (Rasinski, 2010).
In other words … the gains from repeatedly reading one text transferred to other texts!
Benefits of repeated reading
Repeated reading isn’t just for students who struggle. Rasinski (2010) shares these benefits:
- Repeated reading improves comprehension – and this improvement in comprehension extends to unpracticed passages as well!
- Repeated reading leads to greater word recognition accuracy.
- Repeated reading usually leads to better reading performance.
- When students are given real reasons for repeated reading (such as an upcoming performance), they are often more than willing to practice.
Tips for doing repeated reading with the whole class
- Choose a text of an appropriate length (50-200 words depending on student ability).
- Choose the appropriate level of text. To be honest – experts disagree about this. Shanahan (2017) suggests text at students’ frustration levels; otherwise, there won’t be much improvement with successive readings. Others think the text should closer to students’ independent level. If you choose a frustration level text, you must be there to give appropriate support.
- If students are not doing repeated reading for a performance, up to 4 reads is enough on a single text. Research has not shown fluency gains after that number of readings.
Types of repeated reading
- Students can read along with an audio recording of a text until they can read the text independently (note that I said read along, not just listen; simply listening won’t improve fluency).
- Partner reading – students can reader a partner play multiple times (check out this blog post for partner reading tips).
- Each day, reread poetry using the format of the Fluency Development Lesson – this blog post lays it all out.
- Do Reader’s Theater – in which students take turns reading parts of a script and perform it at the end of the week; this is a really good article about how to implement reader’s theater as an approach to classroom fluency instruction.
Reader’s Theater Scripts – Familiar Tales for Grades 1-3
These scripts include parts with varying levels of difficulty. Kids love these clever twists on familiar tales!
Be sure to read the rest of the posts in our fluency series!
Rasinski, T. (2010). The fluent reader. Scholastic.
Shanahan, T. (2017, August 4). Everything you wanted to know about repeated reading. Reading Rockets. https://www.readingrockets.org/blogs/shanahan-literacy/everything-you-wanted-know-about-repeated-reading