Reading Reps

Activities that give your students a reason to read and re-read a text many times; for language classesI’m still on Plan B for one of my classes. Every day, I test the waters by doing PQA at the beginning of the period, and every day they continue to talk and talk and talk. The good news is that they are great at working independently and even with partners, so even though they are not getting the aural input that I would like for them to have, they are still able to get meaningful repetitions of the structures through reading. If you find yourself on Plan B (if even for a day…or need some sub plans…) here are some different activities that I’ve used to get many repetitions out of one reading text (reading it multiple times with different purposes). Remember, since the key is repetitions, the students should have access to the text at all times so that they can keep re-reading it to complete each activity. I typed this up quickly, so I’ll add more to it as I remember…but I’d love to hear what you are doing, as well!!

  • Students read the story and write unknown words on the board. Teacher writes the translations beside them as they add new words to the board.
  • Students read and respond to L2 questions about the reading (since this is not for assessment purposes).
  • Students write a summary statement for each paragraph in English, then translate each summary statement into Spanish.
  • Teacher writes a list of events from the story and scrambles them; students put them in the correct order.
  • Teacher writes a summary statement for each paragraph in L2; students match it with the correct paragraph.
  • Teacher makes a list of events from the story, students write what happened before and after each event.
  • Horizontal conjugation: students change the perspective or tense of the story. This should be structured!! Have students first identify all verbs in the story that would be changed (present tense or verbs done by the main character). Students should also identify anything else that refers to the subject that would have to be changed to tell from a different perspective (nouns, pronouns, etc.). Then have the kids re-write it.
  • Teacher writes a list of events. Students write out a given character feels during that event.
  • Student illustrates the text, adds 2 speech bubbles, and describes the illustration in 3 sentences in the target language (activity from Bob Patrick)
  • Teacher writes an abbreviated version of the story (a summary). Students add details.
  • Teacher writes a detailed summary of the story from a different perspective or in a different tense (teacher-generated horizontal conjugation), and students have to change it back to the original (the text is slightly different since it’s a summary, but they must reference the original to change the verb forms and other applicable words).
  • Teacher writes an alternate version of the story. Students read both and compare and contrast.
  • Students write a new version of the story using specific criteria (change one detail per sentence/all proper nouns/etc.). See more ideas here.
  • Students match (student or teacher-generated) illustrations with events from the story.
  • Students write questions using QAR models/prompts. Questions can be re-distributed and used later by classmates.
  • Teacher writes an erroneous version of the story. Students identify and correct errors.

Independent activities to demonstrate reading comprehensionI often give my students worksheets for the activities described, worksheets that have instructions written on them as additional support to help kiddos stay on task, and you can find most of them in my Independent Textivities and MORE Independent Textivities packets.

Let me know what you’ve done to get additional reps of a reading WITHOUT allowing talking or discussion!!


  1. Thank you for putting this list together. I’ll be printing it out first thing in the morning tomorrow because I have a class with constant Plan B in action, just like you! I feel that all of these activities are great not only for reps of the new structures but also for reading of any kind, like chapter of the novel, magazine article, etc., even a song.

    You forgot to add Textivate to your fabulous list. I just took my “Plan B class” to the lab with the summary of the first half of the chapter (high frequency structures galore) and let them chose the activities they personally wanted to do. I told them to do 3 different types and show me once each was completed. They had a blast! So did I because I knew that they had to read that summary quite few times more than I would have been able to make them do in the classroom.


  2. I have a class just like this. They can’t handle group discussion for PQA, and the stories don’t work either. They are good at individual work. I love all your ideas for reading and repetition, but how do you develop their ear for the vocabulary? For example, my students can recognize the word “la cuidad” when reading but they struggle to understand it when listening or use it in speaking. Any thoughts??


    • I am contemplating the same thing. Fortunately, I have technology available to me such as iPads and Macs. I thought of recording myself with various tasks:
      A. I just read the text 1)correctly, 2) out of order, 3) with factual mistakes and have them 1) just listen and then record themselves reading it, 2) put it in order, 3) fix the mistakes.
      B. I record questions about the text and have them either answer on paper or record answers.

      Here are possible ways to make your recordings available to students:
      – through class site (which I don’t have),
      – by uploading it to Dropbox (rather easy to retrieve),
      – by posting it on (easy access for students),
      – by making an assignment on (you can include comprehension questions and any written type questions there along with the recording, or
      – through where they can both write and record their answers (this site doesn’t work on iPads though).

      I have used all of the sites above (except for the class site) but for different purposes. I’ll be experimenting soon with those ideas of recordings so that the students get the aural input that they need.


  3. Hi Martina!

    Thanks for such a wonderful list of reading strategies. I hear you on the classes that struggle with PQA. Our department has created a similar list to help with these situations. Thought you might want some fresh ideas that we have used:

    * students re-read the story to see where they can put in sound effects, sometimes we then re-read the story after students have found the audio for their sound effect – it can be quite entertaining! you could also have the students record themselves reading the story with the sound effects if you need them to do independent work
    * Who said? Write up some quotes of characters in the first person and the students have to write the name of the person who would have said it based on the story events
    * have students fill out a story map or a “somebody wanted but so” graphic organizer


  4. I know I’m really late on this, but thank you so much for posting this! It’s been one long trip on the struggle bus with my French 3 this entire semester. They’re all great students and sooo smart but they just love to talk! It wouldn’t be an issue if they actually spoke in French but they love to interrupt with English and talk about how they watched an episode of Teen Mom (happened today). I’m going to try this out next week, as they can’t even handle working with partners that well.


  5. […] I saw the students do several different kinds of reading between the three classes that I observed. In one class, the students had done a TPRS® story in a previous lesson, and Susan provided them with a typed version of the class story. It was about 1.5 pages long, double spaced (if memory serves me well). For this activity, she had students pair up and read and translate the story with a partner. As they read and translated, they helped each other when one partner got stuck, and Susan circulated to formatively assess the students’ comprehension and clarify meaning when needed. One common concern that teachers have when considering making the switch to TPRS®/CI instruction is that it is very teacher-centered and therefore exhausting and taxing on the instructor. This very simple activity is a great example of one of the many ways that you can plan for “teacher down-time” in your instruction. Just let your kids read!! Here are some other reading activities that I’ve used in the past. […]


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