School-Based Intervention Idea from


Word Decoding: Drilling Error Words  (Jenkins & Larson, 1979)

When students practice, drill, and receive corrective feedback on words that they misread, they can rapidly improve their vocabulary and achieve gains in reading fluency.

Here are steps that the teacher or tutor will follow in the Error Word Drill: (1) When the student misreads a word during a reading session, write down the error word and date in a separate “Error Word Log”. (2) At the end of the reading session, write out all error words from the reading session onto index cards. (If the student has misread more than 20 different words during the session, use just the first 20 words from your error-word list. If the student has misread fewer than 20 words, consult your “Error Word Log” and select enough additional error words from past sessions to build the review list to 20 words.) (3) Review the index cards with the student. Whenever the student pronounces a word correctly, remove that card from the deck and set it aside. (A word is considered correct if it is read correctly within 5 seconds. Self-corrected words are counted as correct if they are made within the 5-second period. Words read correctly after the 5-second period expires are counted as incorrect.) (4) When the student misses a word, pronounce the word for the student and have the student repeat the word. Then say, “What word?” and direct the student to repeat the word once more. Place the card with the missed word at the bottom of the deck. (5) Error words in deck are presented until all have been read correctly. All word cards are then gathered together, reshuffled, and presented again to the student. The drill continues until either time runs out or the student has progressed through the deck without an error on two consecutive cards.


Jenkins, J. & Larsen, D. (1979). Evaluation of error-correction procedures for oral reading. Journal of Special Education, 13, 145-156.

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