Learn what works

With unassisted repeated reading, students are given short reading passages that contain recognizable words at their independent reading levels. The passage length should be between 50 and 200 words. Passages can be taken from different types of
reading materials, including basals, tradebooks, the Internet, or poetry. Each student orally reads his/her passage several times until he/she reaches the predetermined level of fluency. Students can record and chart their progress. Studies indicate that students benefit from orally reading the passage three to five times. After they reach the goal, they can move on to another piece of text.

In assisted repeated reading, the teacher models fluent reading of the passage, including vocabulary and content discussion after the reading. The class then practices the text chorally as a whole group. Students will practice the passage independently until they have reached the desired fluency or have read it a certain number of times.

Repeated reading can be incorporated into a regular classroom reading program or be used with content area text. It can be modified to include unassisted or assisted repeated-reading techniques as described above with whole groups, small groups, or individuals. Text selections need to be based on students’ reading levels.

Benefits of Repeated Reading

  • Helps all levels of readers with fact recall
  • Serves as a study strategy
  • Aids in students’ identification of what’s important in their reading, such as main ideas and vocabulary
  • Increases comprehension and results in more advanced questioning and insights
  • Leads to faster reading and increased word recognition accuracy
  • Assists struggling readers as they transition from word-by-word reading to more meaningful phrasing

Instructional Steps for Unassisted Repeated Reading

Directions for the Teacher

  1. Explain to students how practice helps reading.
  2. Select appropriate reading rate goals for each student. For students who are already reading at a high rate, set a specific number of re-readings rather than a rate goal.
  3. Select reading selections at appropriate reading levels for each student.
  4. The student rereads the passage until he/she reaches the fluency goal or set number of re-readings.

Directions for the Learner

  1. Choose a story that interests you from the list the teacher gives you.
  2. Practice reading the story alone, with a friend or with your teacher for 10 minutes (or read the story three times).
  3. Ask for help pronouncing words when you need it.
  4. After you have practiced reading the passage, record your progress.
  5. Compare your performance with the reading rate given to you by your teacher.

Structured Repeated Reading Variations

In order to keep repeated reading fresh and new, it’s important to vary the way repeated reading is implemented.  The following elements can be modified:  the instructional setting, purpose for rereading, materials, and modalities.

  • Radio Reading:  The reader acts as a radio announcer who has to communicate a message to listeners.  The reader has the power to modify the text (add, delete, modify) in order for the passage to make more sense.  The reader may practice as much as he’d like.  Following the performance, listeners discuss, respond, and evaluate the message and performance.  If the message is understood, the performance was a success.
  •  Mumble Reading: With mumble reading, repeated readings can be done at the same time without causing a distraction to others.  Students choose 50 to 100 words from their guided reading to practice in a soft and low voice for five minutes.  After practicing, they read their selection aloud to the teacher or entire reading group.
  • Phrase Reading:  In order to reduce word-by-word reading, teachers begin by recording students as they read a passage.  The teacher then models reading word-by-word vs. reading in meaningful phrases.  Next, look at the passage sentence by sentence, marking phrases that go together.  The teacher first models how this looks, and then it is finished cooperatively.  Have the student practice reading aloud using meaningful phrases, and then record again.  Discuss how the two recordings differ.
  • Paired Repeated Reading:  Students work in pairs of similar ability and take turns reading/listening to a passage (50-100 words).  Each student reads the passage three times while the listener assists with pronunciation and meaning.  On a form students evaluate each other’s reading gauging how the reading improved (i.e. by reading more smoothly, knowing more words, using more expression).
  • Dialogic Reading:  This strategy involves three readings, each with a different purpose.  Teachers begin by choosing an interesting book and developing three sets of 6-8 questions, one for each reading of the book.  During the first reading the goal is to periodically ask questions that familiarize the children with the book and discuss important vocabulary.  The focus of the second reading is to deepen comprehension; the third reading if for making text-to-self connections.
  • Say It Like the CharacterThis activity allows students to “become” book characters as they read monologues and dialogues aloud with expression.  Based on the reading, listeners make inferences about the character’s emotions, feelings, and personality.  To be successful, readers need to both practice the reading and consider the feelings and disposition of the character.
  • Cooperative Repeated Reading:  In groups of two, students take a short reading passage and the Cooperative Reading Response Form to a quiet, comfortable spot.  One student begins by reading his passage three times.  As this is occurring, the student listening provides assistance and feedback using the response sheet as a guide.  Students then switch roles.
  • Repeated Reading Centers:  The centers would contain a set of passages for each student at his instructional level, along with recordings of the passages.  The student would then spend 15-20 minutes per day in the center listening to and reading the passage until the student feels he can read the passage independently and fluently.  At that point, he may periodically read to the teacher.
  • Repeated Reading of High Frequency Words and Phrases:  Instead of focusing on high-frequency words in isolation, which can lead to word-by-word reading, this strategy focuses on rereading high frequency words put into phrases.
  • Repeated Reading While Listening:  Each student reads a text at his instructional level while simultaneously listening to the same text being read aloud by a parent, teacher, other more proficient reader, or from a recording.  The student repeatedly reads and listens until confident enough to read aloud on his own.  As the student improves, more difficult texts may be used.
  • Tape, Check, Chart: Students listen to recordings of their own reading and record their miscues on a copy of the text.  Next they record the same passage again; when they listen they record miscues in another color.  This same procedure is done a third time.  The student should tally and chart the number of miscues for each reading.  At this point, teachers meet with the student to discuss his or her progress.
  • Choral Reading
  • Readers’ Theater

Home-School Connections

Check out this book:  Fast Start: Getting Ready to Read by Timothy Rasinski and Nancy Padak. This resource is a research-based, send home literacy program with 60 reproducible poems and activities for PK-K.  This resource is available through Central River AEA’s lending library.  There is also a K-2 Edition

See how it works

Sample Planning Guide (2nd grade: repeated reading)
Set of Dialogic Readings (repeated reading)

Do what works

Planning Template (Fluency)
Repeated Reading Log
Planning Template (Dialogic Readings)
Student Template (Cooperative Repeated Reading)
Tape, check, chart fluency


  • Berglund, Roberta L., & Johns, Jerry L. (2005).  Fluency:  Strategies & Assessments.  Dubuque, IA:  Kendall/Hunt Publishing.
  • Bramwell, Wendie, & Graham-Doyle, Brooke. (2008). The Power of Repeated Reading in Small-Group Instruction. New York:  Scholastic, Inc.
  • Iowa Department of Education. (2008). Every Child Reads: Excellence in Te
  • Rasinski, Timothy. (2003). The Fluent Reader:  Oral Reading Strategies for Building Word Recognition, Fluency, and Comprehension.  New York:  Scholastic Professional Books.