Scholastic suggests that repeated reading is an ideal way to increase the fluency of a reader. In fact, Reading Rockets also recommends repeated reading as a reading fluency component because it improves fluency and can be used as a do-at-home strategy. Repeated readings are considered a part of oral reading fluency because it teachers students how "to read connected text quickly, accurately, and with expression" (Rasplica & Cummings, 2013). In addition, "there is no noticeable cognitive effort that is associated with decoding the words on the page" (Rasplica & Cummings, 2013). The other three Oral Reading Fluency practices include:
Peer-assisted learning strategies
Tape assisted reading
Slide and Glide
Repeated reading is also a part of the Read Naturally Strategy, which defines repeated reading as a strategy that "helps a student master difficult words, increase accuracy, and improve expression to become a fluent reader." More specifically, the teacher models correct reading, the student reads a text multiple times, and the students track performance.
How to Implement Repeated Reading
Repeated reading is quite easy to implement. The teacher has to provide a text to students and read it aloud. The students repeat the sentences along with the teacher. I usually read a few words or a sentence and then the students repeat it. Once I have read the text once, I pause and ask comprehension questions to ensure the students understand the text (this is not absolutely necessary). In the second and third rounds, I usually ask one student to read a sentence and then all the others repeat with them. After the sentence is read, I tag another student to read the next sentence and again students repeat with them. Then, students can practice the text at home on their own, with a parent, or with a sibling. I often ask them to randomly take the text out a few days later and have them read the text (sometimes I give them a time limit to see how fluently AND how quickly they can read). If you do check the speed at which students read, do be mindful that reading is not about how slow or fast we read. All too often teachers focus more on getting students to read a story to achieve a high word per minute (WPM) over reading the words well. That focus alone can deter our students away from becoming readers who truly appreciate literature.
Repeated readings can also be done through paired readings. Here, students are paired up with a partner and read the text multiple times with each ther. The suggestion is to pair an advanced reader to support an average reader. In turn, the average reader can be put in a pair with a more struggling reader. It is important to note, however, that a pair between an advanced and struggling reader can often leave one or both frustrated. These are considerations that come to mind with experience, but repeated readings are generally helpful nonetheless.
Timed Repeated Readings
Whether individually, in small groups, or as a whole class, timed repeated readings can be helpful. Here, it is important to stress that reading is not a competition, but timed repeated readings can help with fluency, which is why some teachers use it in their classrooms. Here, students are asked to read the passage or text within a certain time frame (e.g. one minute). Alternatively, you can count the time it takes for students to read the passage, although there should be a limit to how long students can take since we are practicing fluency. In our classroom, I only used timed repeated reading after practicing through repeated reading, where we read the passage or text as a whole class a few times. This typically supports students to become familiar with the passage or text. I have found this particularly beneficial to ESL students.
I also use Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) and McGraw Hill's fluency passages for repeated readings. These texts should not be too long while also keeping in mind the reading level of the students. Fortunately, there are tons of other short passages that can be found or be made within five minutes that repeated readings are not too burdensome for a teacher.
Rasplica, C. & Cummings, K.D. (2013). Oral reading fluency. Council for Learning Disabilities.