Everything You Need to Know About the “Three-Reads” Method for Benchmark Advance Reading

The “three-reads” method is something that I started implementing while planning for my Benchmark Advance reading lessons. This method actually became an integral part of my planning templates. I have found great success with this method for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, I think it fosters a love of reading in our students. It allows them to process more thoroughly, and it helps to read for enjoyment the first time around instead of “reading for the answers,” which can be a real buzzkill. I have also found this method to be a more enjoyable way of teaching, for me personally, compared to other methods. For similar reasons as the kids, you get to see them connect to the text more and really take the time to break it down to something they fully comprehend. So let’s get into how you go about incorporating the “three-reads” method. 

The First Read 

The first read is where I read the text in its entirety to the students. I read it out loud and have them follow along with me. In this first read, I am really able to enjoy it and keep them more engaged. I always make a point to throw in fun voices, exaggerated hand gestures, or even costumes. Use this first read to get creative with ways to keep this reading fun. I have found the more enjoyment they get from this first read, the more invested they are over the whole week. 

Another benefit of this method is allowing students to hear fluent reading. They are able to listen to me model fluent reading and follow along to see how reading with fluency can really enhance the reading experience. They can hear and see how I pace my reading, how I chunk parts of a sentence, and how I pause at commas and periods. I have also found it helps them to absorb the content better when following along with me for the first time. They aren’t stopped by uncommon words or awkward pauses. They are able to digest the whole thing in one big bite. 

I know some may think that this method would contradict the way Benchmark encourages you to teach a new text. You would be correct. Again, this is what I have found works for me. It does push me to get creative with my time the rest of the week when I take the first day for a whole read. But I have found the benefits from this method outweigh my feelings of trying to fit it all in. 

Pro tip: As you are starting out with this method, it’s easy to get caught up in content and vocabulary. My partner teacher used to say that she couldn’t just read through it without stopping to define or explain words during the reading. However, there’s a lesson for that later! If this happens to you, have the online version of the text read it aloud to students! Open the text upon Benchmark Universe, hit play, and let it do its thing. 


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    The Second Read

    This is when you really begin to see the benefits of reading the whole text out loud for the first time. In the second read, students read to themselves or with partners and are encouraged to annotate as they go. I used to find the annotation step a bit daunting before doing the “three-reads” method. I would often see students struggling to capture the whole picture and getting hung up on small details. These tiny road bumps would often prevent them from even making it through the whole text, which adds to their confusion. 

    As they work through the text the second time, they already have a general direction for the story and are able to dive deeper right off the bat. I encourage them to mark up their texts as they go. I provide my students with these fun Annotation Symbols Bookmarks to encourage quick and easy thoughts. These annotations are a great springboard for discussion as a class or between students about similarities and differences they found in the text. It allows them to make instant connections even if it’s just a part the whole class found surprising or funny. 

    It’s also during this time that I have students circle words that are unfamiliar to them. We often find that our peers are circling the same words, so we can usually extract a few that everyone wondered about and have that be our vocabulary for the week. I find this to be more meaningful than giving them a set vocabulary word list. Sometimes there’s a context clues lesson or some other type of vocabulary lesson that week, so we will address the words during that time if so. Otherwise, if there’s no set vocabulary lesson that week, then I make it a point to address those words before moving on to the third read. I “wing” those lessons. Sometimes we look at context clues, sometimes we use a reference tool, sometimes we look at root words, sometimes I might help by giving a synonym… it all depends on the words they circle in their annotations.

    The Third Read

    The third read is where we really put the rubber to the road and combine it with a close reading lesson. At this point, students are much more familiar with the text and have most likely already made some connections of their own. (Especially if they have become comfortable with the annotation practice they work on during the second read.) From here we take their thoughts and turn them into something we can use to assess against for understanding. In my Close Reading Companions, I include an “Apply It” test question at the end of each section to help simulate how a Benchmark Advance test question might be worded. This is a great way to get instant feedback on how well the students are able to absorb and translate the information. 

    Whatever I do, my students just don’t do well on the Benchmark assessments.

    If this sounds like you, try using the “Apply It” Questions at the bottom of each Close Reading Companion to help students make progress on their tests.

    For me, close reading lessons have really reformed the way that reading is taught. Most of this change was brought about when states started adopting the Common Core Standards. I talk more in-depth about the how’s and why’s behind how I set up my close reading lessons in this blog post

    Again, I know this might initially feel like your going against the Benchmark grain but I really encourage you to give it a try! If you do be sure to drop a comment below or connect with me on social media and tell me how it worked out for you and your class!

    Questions or ideas to share? Please leave a comment on this blog post!


    Hi! I’m Toluca from Markers and Minions, where I help teachers feel more effective and confident with high-quality resources and an awesome teacher community!

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    2 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About the “Three-Reads” Method for Benchmark Advance Reading”

    1. I do read it first to model but I’ve been doing longer reads in two days but starting tomorrow I’m “reading it through for enjoyment without stopping to teach or discuss. The second day, I will have my PB/J partners (high/low) read and annotate. On the third day, I’ll use your CRC page with question.


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