Repeated reading – Students read something several times until they can read the passage aloud with almost no errors (except for the occasional ‘um’ or short pause).
Repeated reading is almost the same as re-reading with a few slight (but important) differences. It has the narrow but important goal of improving student’s pronunciation and oral reading fluidity. Students read something several times until they can read the passage aloud with almost no errors (except for the very occasional ‘um’ or short pause).
Unlike re-reading (which aims to improve comprehension), repeated reading aims to improve oral reading fluency via word-familiarity, repetition and eventual automatic recognition. Students see a letter, sound or word, recognise it, process it (for example, combining letters to form new sounds) and fluently pronounce the sound or word at an acceptable pace. Punctuation is applied correctly (such as stopping for full stops). With each re-read, fluency improves until the point of automaticity (seeing a word and instantly or automatically saying the word correctly) is reached. The goal of repeated reading is for transferable automaticity – the same word is recognised and automatically pronounced in other texts – not just in the current reading program.
Students read something several times until they can read the passage aloud with almost no errors (except for the very occasional ‘um’ or short pause).
Teachers often use a system such as ‘running reading’ to assess a student’s oral reading skills. The teacher listens to a student read and records the number of mistakes. Running reading uses a type of shorthand to mark each incorrect word for future analysis and diagnosis. Another ‘old-school’, free and simple recording method is a tick each correct word. Scores are tallied to enable the teacher to see how a student is progressing over time. Sometimes scores are placed on a graph. Texts are selected based on their allocated level of challenge (such as level 1, 2, 3 etc.). When a level of proficiency is achieved (usually 90%), students move to a higher level. Repeated reading texts should be age-appropriate, visually appealing and take no longer than 2-6 minutes to read.
Hint: if a student reads at a rate of 100 words per minute, they will still read a staggering 600 words in 6 minutes. For this reason, repeated reading texts should be shorter (100 words for example) rather than longer (400+) obviously depending on age. Shorter texts mean a smaller time gap between each practice and hence a bigger improvement in fluidity with each reading.
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and an author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of Fast Track Training Australia, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
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