Part 4: Rereading to Confirm

Literacy Pages: The Series presents the next post in an 8-post series related to Reading Recovery and Teaching with Discontinuation in Mind from Early Lessons.

Clay (2016) poses the question, “Should we ask children to talk about the problem-solving?” She suggests that we do so occasionally by asking, “How did you know?” or “Were you right?” Checking their own reading is a crucial component of students’ self-extending systems and as observant teachers, we must look for signs that our students are doing this for themselves. Rereading to confirm is one visible piece of evidence that students are asking themselves, “Was I right?” 

Rereading is the visible, observable behavior but the invisible thinking that needs to occur is fluent searching of meaning, structure, and visual and phonological information in order to evaluate an attempt.  As students become more adept at this fast processing of information, you may see a change over time in how they reread at each level below. 

  • Page: When checking behaviors emerge, students may reread all the way from the beginning of the page. Searching for and holding onto all the sources of information as they read is a new behavior. A student may not yet know how to identify how far back to reread in order to confirm their thinking. 
  • Line or Sentence: As checking behaviors become more automatic, and they begin to read texts with multiple sentences on a page, students begin to realize that going to just the beginning of the sentence will do and that rereading the entire page may not be necessary. Clay (1991) explains why children return to the beginning of a line or sentence, “If rereading succeeds it places the correct response in its correct matrix of association so that sound patterns, grammar, intonation, and meaning are all correct.”
  • Phrase or Word: As students become even more advanced at balancing their attention to all sources of information, they will have been actively searching for, and holding onto, all sources of information as they read a page and may need to reread only a phrase or word to confirm an attempt. Referring to this as “confirming checks,” Clay (1991) says, “These repetitions must be seen as exemplars of the searching, monitoring and checking strategies used by the reader.” 

You can identify when a child is rereading for the purpose of confirming when the child has not made a substitution or other type of error, or has made a self-correction. The reading up to the point of rereading will be accurate or recently self-corrected. After rereading, the child may show satisfaction with the attempt either with a confident tone or a quick comment of affirmation. 

As in all areas of a child’s Reading Recovery program, in order to teach for confirming behaviors we need to be careful observers. We watch for moments when the reading is accurate or self-corrected but the child seems uncertain. This may come in the form of a comment such as, “Is that right?” or an inquisitive tone or look on the student’s face, or the child may simply stop. When you notice uncertainty after accurate or self-corrected reading, this is the time to teach for confirmation in the form of rereading and searching. Clay offers some prompting language to assist the child in searching for neglected information, but these prompts can also be used to help the child confirm by hypothesizing which source of information the child most likely relied on to problem-solve and calling his attention to the other sources of information as a way to confirm his reading (Clay, 2016).

If the child seems to have relied on what makes sense to the story and characters, you may direct the child to reread and prompt with: Check! Does it look right and sound right to you? 

If the child seems to have relied on structure to make reading accurate, you may direct the child to reread and prompt with: Check! Does it make sense and look right to you?

If the child seems to have relied on visual or phonological information, you may direct the child to reread and prompt with: Check! Does it make sense and sound right to you? 

Reading Recovery teachers can reinforce rereading to confirm during writing tasks as well. Early in lessons we teach students to reread often during writing in order to know “what comes next.” Sometimes our students reread but they do not know what comes next. We can use a prompt such as, “Reread and think about what would make sense.” The words “reread and…” communicate to the child that there is a thinking process that accompanies the act of rereading.

During reading and writing tasks, it is crucial for the teacher to convey to the student that the simple act of rereading is not enough, rather, the child is expected to be searching and checking while carrying out the act of rereading whether they are using rereading to help solve, self-correct, or confirm their reading.

Click below to check out our previous posts:

Self-Extending Systems: Teaching with Discontinuation and Independence in Mind

Part 1: Actively Self-monitoring

Part 2: Searching for Different Kinds of Information

Part 3: Syntactic Structures


Clay, M.M. (2016). Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals. Auckland, NZ: Scholastic.

Clay, M.M. (2005). Becoming literate: The Construction of Inner Control. Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann.

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