Fill-in-the-Blanks Reading

Fill-in-the-Blanks Reading

When I work with teachers, I hear that planning activities for the teacher station of station-rotation blended learning, is actually the easiest station to plan.  This station provides opportunities to conduct the small-group direct instruction that can be almost impossible to squeeze into whole-group instruction.  

For those of us who use a formal curriculum, our teachers’ manuals contain a variety of differentiation/universal access lessons that are perfect for this station. I remember that as a new teacher, I would just skim these, recognize their potential use, but move on after realizing that I did not have a way to just teach the lesson to one small group.  Later, I realized that they were often valuable sources for reteach lessons when my students were struggling to understand a concept.  Now, I regularly integrate them into lessons for my lower performing groups.

But, this post would be useless if I just told you to go use your teacher’s manual.  To be honest, for the majority of my years in a classroom, I have not used textbooks.  In my previous district, I was privileged to be encouraged to create my own project-based units or use district units that were filled with room for creative implementation.  I hope to use the teacher station blog posts to share little techniques that can help to improve your small group lesson, regardless of your curriculum area.

First up is a technique that I learned from a literacy coach during my first year of teaching Reading Support 7 at Mountain Empire Jr. High School. (It’s been awhile, but when I remember the coach’s name, I’ll come back and add it here!)  It is simply called Fill-in-the-Blanks Reading.

Freshmen Reading Orphan Train
Freshmen Reading Orphan Train using Fill-in-the-Blank Reading

When working with a small group, my students and I often need to read sections of a text–even if it is just directions.  I teach struggling readers, so asking one student to read aloud is not always the best option. (By the way, stale, fear-inducing, choppy popcorn reading is never an option in my classroom!)  I know that modeling fluent reading is important, but my students tend to just zone out and look around the room if I just read to them, especially when three other stations are taking place around the room.  Additionally, I want my students to follow along or track as I read.  I have found that Fill-in-the-Blanks Reading is the perfect strategy to model fluency and help my students follow along.  Here’s how it works:


  1. Each student and the teacher have a copy of the text.
  2. Teacher explains:
    1. I am going to read _____.  As I read, I want you to follow along with your eyes and track with your finger.  When you hear my voice slightly change and pause, I want you to read the next word.  I will not stop on the first word of a sentence.
  3. Teacher begins reading.  At the end of the second sentence, she slightly changes her voice to cue the students and then pauses reading for the students to read the next word. She praises students or reminds students of the expectation and repeats the sentence.
  4. As the students become comfortable with the routine, the teacher pauses at different points in sentences.  I suggest pausing for familiar words and previously identified vocabulary words.

To learn more about implementing station-rotation blending learning, please visit my blog.  If you have success with this strategy or have more to share, please comment below, or share on Twitter or Instagram (#tvszed and @npriester), or in the Teachers vs Zombies Facebook Group (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *