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Fluency Series Part 2

A Guide for Implementing Repeated Readings to Support Fluency


Part 2 of our Fluency Series is aimed to help educators provide intervention for those readers who need fluency support.

How do I decide which students require fluency intervention?

When analyzing a recent running record, consider the following:

  • Does the student read at an appropriate rate?
  • Does the student attend to punctuation?
  • Does the student read with expression?
  • Does the student read word-by-word or in longer phrases?

Is there a manageable way to provide targeted fluency intervention?

Repeated reading is a time-efficient method that provides daily fluency practice. The following is a brief summary of how to implement repeated reading.

What is a Cold Read?

Repeated reading intervention begins with a “cold read”.  A “cold read” is when a student reads a text they have never read before. This provides baseline data for fluency. While the initial goal of repeated readings is to reach the benchmark rate after repeated practice, the ultimate goal is reach the benchmark rate on the first, or “cold read”. It is important to analyze both growth from cold to hot reads as well as growth on cold reads over time.

Students do not always have a realistic idea of what their goal rate should sound like. We have found that modeling is helpful. We set the timer for one minute and read an alternate text (not the cold read text) aloud to the student, pacing our reading to match the benchmark. During this modeling we are sure to pause to “stretch out” longer words and self-correct errors. This oral modeling helps the student ‘hear’ the expected pace. Omitting the modeling often leads to the student becoming anxious and may compel him/her to sacrifice accuracy for speed.

Steps for Administering a Cold Read

Tell the student that you are going to listen to them read for one minute.

  • Hand the student his/her copy. Indicate the line containing the goal number of words (i.e. the 100th word if the goal is 100).
  • The teacher’s copy can be placed in a page protector for ease of re-use.
  • Set the timer for one minute and start timing as the student begins to read.
  • Cross out any words read incorrectly.
  • If the student pauses for 3 seconds, tell the student the word and cross it out on the teacher copy.
  • When one minute is up, the student discontinues reading.
  • Count the total words read minus errors or “told words”. Do NOT count words that were inserted.
  • Review the student’s reading and explain any words that were misread.

    Fluency Ongoing Plans PHOTO 1
    TIP: For ease of re-use, place the passage in a page protector and record errors with a dry erase marker as shown.
  • Record the “cold read” results on the graph.

Steps for Repeated Daily Readings

Follow the steps outlined above for repeated daily readings. Record the results on the graph.

We recommend at least four days of practice with the same passage prior to administering the “hot read”.

What is a Hot Read?

Repeated reading intervention ends with a “hot read”.  A “hot read” is when a student reads the passage for the final time.

Steps for Administering a Hot Read

Follow the steps outlined above for the hot read.  Record the results on the graph.

There should be noticeable improvement in the number of Words Correct per Minute (WCPM) when comparing the cold and the hot read. After several weeks of repeated fluency reads, the teacher and the student should begin to notice a gradual improvement in the WCPM during cold reads. Over time, the ultimate goal is for the student’s fluency rate to improve on cold reads. This will ensure that the student will make his/her benchmark.

How Long Should I Implement this Intervention?

Results may vary. Some students respond quickly and achieve the benchmark within several weeks. Continue intervention until students are able to achieve the benchmark on cold reads consistently. We recommend 3-5 weeks but encourage teachers to use discretion.

Some students are slower to respond. For the sake of fidelity, continue the intervention for a minimum of six weeks, at which point gradual improvement may be noted. This is an indication that the student is responding to intervention and the intervention should continue.

What if a student does not demonstrate improvement after 6-8 weeks?

Students who respond minimally to this intervention may benefit from additional screenings. It is possible that the student’s oral reading fluency is being impacted by difficulty with a prerequisite skill. We find McKenna’s Cognitive Model of Reading helpful in determining next steps.

How can I find research-based, criterion-referenced passages for my grade level?

Good news! DIBELS is a free resource that contains progress monitoring tools for Grades K-6. If using DIBELS, we recommend using DIBELS Next as it is the most recent edition. However, if additional text sets are needed, DIBELS 6th edition is available. Prior to downloading, a free account must be established on the DIBELS Next website.

How can I help students incorporate the various components of fluency beyond rate?

Slide1Our Fluency Unit provides explicit instruction in four main components of fluency (punctuation, phrasing, expression, and rate). Comprehensive lessons are provided for each component.  Detailed ongoing intervention plans are included for students requiring further support.

This one-week unit follows the gradual release of responsibility approach beginning with teacher modeling, leading into guided practice, and ending with independent application.

What other strategies can be incorporated into classroom routines to help on-level as well as struggling readers develop fluency?

There are a number of strategies that are effective in increasing fluency and provide additional opportunities for students to be exposed to grade level text. These strategies are as follows and will be addressed in subsequent blogs:

  • Teacher Modeling of Fluent Reading
  • Opportunities to listen to fluent reading while following along in text. (Audio books or Assistive Technology)
  • Echo Reading
  • Choral Reading
  • Readers’ Theater
  • Reading to Younger Children (Book Buddies)


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