Learn what works

Choral reading involves students reading in unison with a fluent reader.

Choral reading is an instructional technique for incorporating fluency training into the general education setting. Teachers have the freedom of choosing materials which are part of their reading series to assist students that need additional fluency practice. These texts could be poetry selections or literature which are of interest to the students. It might also be text from the content area, or text written by the student. Choral reading provides a model of fluent reading for students as they listen to sound, stress, duration, and pitch from the fluent reader. This technique is cost-effective and easy to implement in any classroom.

Instructional Steps for Choral Reading

  1. Students and teachers each have copies of the text. The teacher can use a big book so all students can see, students can have individual copies of the text, or students can be placed in pairs sharing the text between them.
  2. The teacher begins by reading the text aloud to models fluent reading. Students follow along in the text; some may have students point to the words as they read.
  3. The teacher rereads the text, inviting students to join in as they recognize the words.
  4. Students and the teacher read the text several times (three to five) until students are able to read the text independently. Successive readings may occur over several sessions.

Watch and Learn: Choral Reading: Instructional Steps

Benefits of Choral Reading

Choral Reading can be adapted for use at any grade level. In student groupings, more fluent readers provide support for less fluent readers, allowing less fluent readers to achieve success, even on difficult passages. Less fluent readers can participate without embarrassment as they read aloud in a group.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Select a text to be read as a group in unison.  For example, poems, predictable books, and ritual text, such as the Pledge of Allegiance, are excellent choices.
  • Make sure everyone has access to the text.
  • Model the activity by reading the text aloud to students. Follow up with discussion using expressive intonation.
  • Practice the text several times over several days, and perform for visitors when possible.

Choral Reading Variations

Refrain:  One student reads most of the text and the whole group chimes in to read key segments chorally.  Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever is a good example of refrain.

Antiphonal Reading:  Divide the class into groups and assign a section of a text to each group.  They read parts alternately.

Call-and-Response:  Teacher or student reads a line or two of a text and the rest of the class responds by repeating the lines.

Cumulative Choral Reading: An individual or small group reads one line or section of a passage. Another reader or group chimes in for the next line, and a few more are included for the lines that follow. Before the end of the text is reached, the entire class should be reading.

Line-a-Child: Each child is given a line to read and reads at the appropriate time.

Unison: The entire class reads together, placing emphasis at predetermined spots throughout.

Group Performance: Groups are assigned  or select text to read aloud to the class. The group is encouraged to vary pitch, volume, duration, and stress as appropriate to the text. They may also assign different parts–with partners reading some lines and the whole group reading other lines. As they practice these variations, they are repeating their reading several times. Each group then presents its reading to a selected audience.

See how it works

Sample Planning Guide (2nd grade)
Sample Planning Guide (3rd grade)
Sample Planning Guide (11th grade, AP English)

Watch and Learn: Teacher Modeling, Grade 3

Watch and Learn: Teacher Modeling, Grade 11

Do what works

Planning Template (Choral Reading)


  • Armbruster, B.B, Leah, F., Osborn, J. (2001). Put Reading First. U.S. Department of Education: National Institute for Literacy.
  • Iowa Department of Education. (2007). Every Child Reads: Excellence in Teaching and Learning. http://moodlesw.aeapdonline.org/course/view.php?id=440
  • Opitz, Michael F., and Rasinski, Timothy V. (1998).  Good-bye Round Robin:  25 Effective Oral Reading Strategies.  Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann.
  • Rasinski, T.V. (2001). From Phonics to Fluency: Effective Teaching of Decoding and Reading Fluency in the Elementary School. New York: Longman.
  • Rasinski, T. V. (2003). The Fluent Reader: Oral Reading Strategies for Building Word Recognition, Fluency, and Comprehension. New York:  Scholastic.