Repeated reading is the practice of having a student read the same text over and over until their reading is fluent and error-free. This strategy can be applied individually or in a group setting. Repeated reading was originally used to support students with learning disabilities that impacted their reading until educators realized that most students can benefit from this method.
Teachers use this reading strategy primarily to increase the fluency of their students. Repeated reading benefits students whose reading is accurate but choppy by helping them develop automaticity, or the ability to read quickly and accurately. With this automaticity comes increased comprehension and higher success in reading in general.
How to Use the Repeated Reading Strategy
Repeated reading is simple to execute and can be done with any genre of book. Follow these guidelines for choosing the right text.
- Choose a text that is approximately 50-200 words.
- Select a passage that is decodable, not predictable.
- Use a text that is between the student's instructional and frustration levels-they should mostly be able to read it without your help but this will require decoding and mistakes will be made.
Now that you have your text, you may enact this method one-on-one with a student. Introduce the passage to them and provide background information as needed. The student should read the passage aloud. You can provide definitions for difficult words that they encounter but let them pronounce them on their own and try to figure out them out for themselves first.
Have students re-read the passage up to three times until their reading is smooth and efficient. The goal is for their reading to come as close to authentic language as possible. You may choose to use a fluency chart to track their progress.
Individual Reading Activities
Repeated reading can also be done without a teacher to promote reading independence. Without being able to rely on you for guidance, students will learn to apply their decoding and problem-solving skills when faced with challenges. Have your students try repeated reading independently with these two activities.
A tape recorder is an excellent tool for helping your students practice fluency through re-reading. You can either obtain a pre-recorded text or record a passage yourself for students to listen to. They then follow along the first time through, then read in unison with the tape the next three times, each time growing faster and more confident.
Timed reading requires a student to use a stopwatch to time their reading. They can use a chart to record their time with each reading and see themselves improve. Remind them that the goal is to be able to read quickly and correctly, not just quickly.
Partner Reading Activities
The repeated reading strategy also works well in partnerships and small groups. Have students sit close to each other and share or print multiple copies of a passage. Try some of the following partner reading activities to support your students in reading more effortlessly.
Group students of the same or similar reading levels into pairs and choose several passages ahead of time. Have one reader go first, choosing whichever passage interests them, while the other listens. Reader One reads their passage three times, then the students switch and Reader Two reads a new passage aloud three times. The students can discuss what they learned and help each other as needed.
The strategy of choral reading lends itself nicely to repeated reading. Again, group students of the same or similar reading levels into pairs or small groups, then have them all read a text in unison. Students know how fluent reading looks and sounds and they can practice working toward this by listening to their peers and leaning on each other for support. This can be done with or without a teacher.
Echo reading is a scaffolded repeated reading strategy. In this activity, students follow along with their fingers while the teacher reads a short passage once. After the teacher has finished, the students read the passage themselves, "echoing back" what they were just read. Repeat one or two times.
Dyad reading is similar to echo reading but is done with students of different reading levels rather than with students and a teacher. Place students in pairs with one strong reader and one that is not as strong. Choose a passage that is at the frustration level of the lower reader and will most likely be at the high instructional or independent level of the stronger reader.
Have the students read the passage together. The stronger reader takes the lead and reads with confidence while the other reader does their best to keep up. The students repeat until they are almost reading chorally (but no more than three times). Through dyad reading, the stronger reader practices intonation, prosody, and comprehension while the second reader practices fluency and accuracy.
- Heckelman, R. G. “A Neurological-Impress Method of Remedial-Reading Instruction.” Academic Therapy, vol. 4, no. 4, 1 June 1969, pp. 277-282. Academic Therapy Publications.
- Samuels, S. Jay. “The Method of Repeated Readings.” The Reading Teacher, vol. 32, no. 4, Jan. 1979, pp. 403-408. International Literacy Association.
- Shanahan, Timothy. “Everything You Wanted to Know About Repeated Reading.” Reading Rockets, WETA Public Broadcasting, 4 Aug. 2017.