Daily Spiral Review for Reading Comprehension

Daily Spiral Review, Reading Comprehension

Daily spiral review for reading comprehension.

Best Strategy for Reading Comprehension

This is not just any strategy. Spiral review is the single best strategy you can use to increase reading comprehension!

And that’s a hard claim to make, I know. (I welcome your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of this post!)

There are many instructional strategies you can use to boost reading comprehension skills for students. You probably already use many of them in your classroom!

You use engaging instruction, interactive tasks, anchor charts, mentor texts, and plenty of talking and writing in your reading classroom, but we know from brain research and experience that it’s just not enough.

It’s not enough to teach a lesson, give practice, support in guided reading, and give independent reading time.

There’s one single strategy that must be in place to boost retention of learning and build mastery of comprehension skills. When I tell you this strategy, you might even roll your eyes because it’s so obvious, but difficult to do well.

But before I share with you, let’s look at the evidence for this strategy. Does it really work?

The Proof’s in the Pudding

Here’s a quick case study to help you see the results of using this strategy.

In the fall of 2017, over 2000 classrooms had access to this strategy in a trial we were doing. In a subset of those classrooms, we found teachers who used this strategy achieved 7 months of reading level growth in only 3 months!

Yes. Seven months of growth in three months of school!

What’s the Strategy?

As I said, it’s simple. And it works because it builds comprehension skills on a foundation of basic reading skills – one small step at a time.

The strategy is daily spiral review of fundamental reading skills. It’s not a daily review of test strategies (that’s altogether different). We’re talking about 3-6 minutes of reviewing key skills such as:

  • Decoding Fluency
  • Word Recognition Skills
  • Reading Fluency
  • Word Parts and Morphology
  • Spelling
  • Basic Comprehension

Without a daily spiral review of these skills, students develop deficiencies in untested skills (basic reading, word knowledge, and fluency). Over time, those deficiencies turn into gaps. By 5th and 6th grades, these gaps become severe as students struggle with academic reading in social studies and science.

How To Do Daily Spiral Review

This summer, we surveyed over 3000 teachers to find the best techniques they use for spiral review. A few trends became clear about daily spiral reviews. Here’s what they said.

What activities do you use for reading spiral review?

The top four activities are:

  1. Word sorts
  2. Animated text with basic comprehension questions
  3. Open-ended & Multiple-choice task cards focused on main ideas and making inferences
  4. Forced fluency in the form of repeated reading and animated text

What do you focus on for the spiral review?

Teachers reported that comprehension was the primary focus, with word study being the second area to focus on for spiral review. Most teachers (47%) did the daily spiral review in a whole-class format covering previously taught skills.

What comprehension skills are the most important in spiral review?

The teachers in our research overwhelmingly (75%) stated making inferences was the most critical comprehension skill. This included:

  • Cite Text Evidence
  • Support Conclusions
  • Infer and Draw Conclusions

What Happens When You Stick With Spiral Review?

At first, it doesn’t “feel” like there’s much learning impact on your students. Spiral Reviews are short, so it doesn’t seem like there’s much to it.

Also, you might feel like the spiral review is too basic to help your students on their Lexile measures, the TEKS, state standards, or Common Core. But that’s the beauty of daily spiral review – it’s scaffolded and focused on fundamental skills.

  • After a week, students understand the routine.
  • After three weeks, students start to build their retention of the skills.
  • After 6-7 weeks, students develop automaticity with the skills and they increase reading confidence, spelling confidence, and willingness to try more challenging texts (like those on standardized tests).
  • By the 10th week of doing spiral review of basic reading skills, your students will transfer the learning into all areas of reading and writing! You’ll be amazed at how it impacts spelling skills, reading levels, and reading comprehension.

The effects of spiral review only become evident after consistent implementation. The effects of spiral review compound – they snowball!

Remember the 7 months of growth in 3 months? That’s real. And you can do the same!

Start This Week and Help Your Readers!

You don’t need anything special to start doing a spiral review this week. Gather your resources, plan out your materials, find the videos and animated texts, and you’re all set.

I do realize that’s a lot of work for most teachers, but that’s why we have the Awesome Membership at SpiralWarmUps.com.

What’s the Awesome Membership?

It’s the simplest way to use spiral review. It has:

  • No prep, online videos, interactive activities, and task cards.
  • It’s designed to take 3-6 minutes of class time to target the most essential reading skills.
  • It can be delivered whole-class with a single computer and a projector.

No printouts needed. No prep. The Awesome Membership includes:

  • Forced Fluency Practice with Lexiled Texts
  • Timed, Repeated Readings with Animated Text
  • Main Idea & Making Inferences Task Cards
  • Timed Reading with Skills-Focused Comprehension Questions
  • Plus, over 30 weeks of Word Study Warm-Ups

It’s really as simple as 1) login, 2) decide on your skill to review for the week, and 3) press play.

If that sounds interesting, the Awesome Membership might be the right tool for your students. I really hope you appreciated the tips on spiral review.

I’d love to hear how you use spiral review in your class.¬†Share with me in the comments on this post.

Easy-to-use Daily Spiral Review. Learn more about the Awesome Membership.

Explore Spiral Warm-Ups Memberships


Leave a Comment or Question

    • Yes. Warm-ups are all created by lexile level and targeted skills (i.e. short vowels, making inferences, etc). We organized the spiral reviews into literacy sequences that are for grade-level alignment.

    • I’m so glad you have the STAAR daily warm-ups! Those are amazing. They are different than the reading comprehension warm-ups here at SpiralWarmUps. The main difference is SpiralWarmUps.com teaches reading skills, whereas the STAAR daily warm-ups focus on the testing genre.

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