Strategies for Constructing Meaning

In class this week we were introduced to this idea of “constructing meaning.”  For this blog posting, you are to investigate strategies that can be used to develop or construct meaning.  Since these are in the head processes we can’t directly teach them, rather we can only teach for them.

Here you will share information you have found regarding the strategies that you have located.  In particular, you will want to think about this question:

What happens when strategies are reduced to the level of discrete skills or steps?


43 Responses to Strategies for Constructing Meaning

  1. There are many strategies that good readers use including monitoring comprehension, questioning, inferencing, summarizing, etc. These strategies have been proven to be significant and effective (Dole, Duffy, Roehler, & Pearson, 1991). In addition, there are other purposeful and effective reading strategies to be used before, during, and after reading.

    One important reading strategy is predicting in which students make educated guesses about the text, what they believe the author is communicating, and what they think will happen next (Duke & Pearson, 2008/2009). Furthermore, making predictions can help to activate background and stimulate discussions. Forming predictions based on evidence also requires readers to refer to the text prior to reading, and during reading, they can confirm or correct predictions. Predicting requires students to be actively engaged with the text and to bridge background knowledge and text clues. In this way, predicting is similar to inferencing.

    If predicting was reduced to merely a set of discrete skills or steps, students would not feel as actively engaged in the process. This would make the strategy become less meaningful and students would be far less likely to implement the strategy independently. Moreover, even if students used the strategy, it would not be founded on their needs as readers but rather on required steps. It would no longer be a meaningful strategy but merely a means to an end or something to check off their reading list.


    Duke, N.K. & Pearson, P.D. (2008/2009). Effective practices for developing reading comprehension. Journal of Education, 189, (1/2), p. 107-122.

    Gunning, T. G. (2010). Assessing and correcting reading and writing difficulties. (4th Ed.) Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

    Tovani, Cris. I Read It, but I Don’t Get It: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse, 2000. Print.

    Wilhelm, Jeffrey D., Peggy Jo Wilhelm, and Erika Boas. (2009). Inquiring minds learn to read and write. Markham, Ontario: Rubicon Publishing Inc.

  2. An important reading strategy good readers use is reading different texts differently (Duke & Pearson, 2008/2009). Good readers pay attention to narrative and expository text structures while reading and use these structures (as well as text features in expository text) to make meaning of the material. Students need to learn how the differences between narrative and expository texts and how to read different text differently. This is also extremely important in content-area reading. Students need to be taught how to identify the text structure and to use it to their advantage as readers.

    If this strategy were reduced to a set of skills, it would lose its effectiveness and authenticity. Furthermore, if the text did not follow the steps, readers would not know how to modify the strategy to help them with their comprehension. This could cause their comprehension to be far less meaningful or to break down altogether. There is no way a student can learn every possible text structure or purpose. Rather, they need to learn generalizations about text structures and reading different texts differently, so they can apply this knowledge to any text they may encounter.


    Duke, N.K. & Pearson, P.D. (2008/2009). Effective practices for developing reading comprehension. Journal of Education, 189, (1/2), p. 107-122.

    Gunning, T. G. (2010). Assessing and correcting reading and writing difficulties. (4th Ed.) Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

  3. Thinking aloud is a very powerful reading strategy that should be used by both students and teachers (Duke & Pearson, 2008/2009). Thinking aloud is the process of thinking out loud while reading about the reading one encounters. This may including making predictions; asking questions; providing clarification; monitoring; connecting to prior knowledge, disciplines, text, or the world; inferencing; summarizing, etc. When students think aloud they slow down and take the time to process the material they are reading. In addition, this process combines the most significant and effective reading strategies. Furthermore, discussion and writing extensions have a powerful impact on reading comprehension. It is important to use a gradual release of responsibility method when teaching students to think aloud. The teacher should model thinking aloud prior to asking the students to engage in this process.

    It would be demeaning to reduce thinking aloud to merely a set of discrete steps because then it would no longer be an authentic and meaningful transaction between the reader and the text. Furthermore, students would not see the purpose in engaging in thinking aloud in independent reading; consequently, they would not choose to engage in the strategy. The powerfulness of the strategy would be completely lost and the steps would undoubtedly not apply to every reader, reading, and/or situation. This would be a devastating and destructive method of teaching think alouds.


    Duke, N.K. & Pearson, P.D. (2008/2009). Effective practices for developing reading comprehension. Journal of Education, 189, (1/2), p. 107-122.

    Gunning, T. G. (2010). Assessing and correcting reading and writing difficulties. (4th Ed.) Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

    Wilhelm, Jeffrey D., Peggy Jo Wilhelm, and Erika Boas. (2009). Inquiring minds learn to read and write. Markham, Ontario: Rubicon Publishing Inc.

  4. pgbryant says:


    Readers create mental images of their reading. Sometimes teachers ask students to close their eyes and imagine a scene in the story. Students may also draw pictures of what they are visualizing in the story – the scene, characters, or other information. Another way to visualize would be to act out the story or a scene in the story. Students could also be asked to write a description in a reading log. Imagining oneself as a character in the story or picturing their self in the story is part of visualizing as well.

    When visualizing is reduced to the level of a discrete skill or step, students may fail to get the big picture. The task may no longer seem authentic.

    Thompkins, G. E. (2006). Literacy for the 21st century: a balanced approach. (4th ed., pp. 230, 244). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

    • pgbryant says:

      Picture books are a great way for helping students to see how words and images connect in making meaning.

      Pearson, P. David, L.R. Roehler, J.A. Dole, and Duffy, G.G. (1992). “Developing Expertise in Reading Comprehension.” In S. Jay Samuels and Alan Farstrup, eds. What Research Has to Say About Reading Instruction, 2nd Edition. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  5. pgbryant says:

    Graphic Organizer – Story Maps

    The story map includes elements of the story to help students better understand the material. It includes the main characters, setting, problem of the story, a few story events, how the problem is solved and the resolution (or ending). Story maps help to improve comprehension as students read carefully to learn details. The story map supplies students a framework for identifying the literary elements of a story and helps students to organize information and ideas efficiently.

    Actually, according to Debra Peterson, Minnesota Center for Reading Research, when students just fill out a story map and go on to the next activity, it is a comprehension skill. It becomes a strategy activity when students take notes on their story map during reading and then use it to write a summary of the story. Students know that summarizing helps them to remember the important parts of the story.

    Graphic organizer – story maps are reduced to the level of discrete skills or steps when used alone. Students may just go through the motions of filling in the graphic organizer and not get the big picture. They may fill out the graphic organizer and just be done, without constructing meaning. However, when students add notes onto their story map during reading and write a summary afterward, it can be considered a strategy for constructing meaning.

    Adapted from Adler, C.R. (Ed). 2001. Seven strategies to teach students text comprehension. Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read, pp. 49-54. National Institute for Literacy. Retrieved from

    Peterson, D. (2008). What is the difference between a comprehension skill and a comprehension strategy? Informally published manuscript, Minnesota Center for Reading Research, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Retrieved from

    Trabasso, T., & Bouchard, E. (2002) Teaching readers how to comprehend text strategically. In C. Block and M. Pressley, (Eds.) Comprehension instruction: Research-based practices (PP. 176-200). NY: Guilford Press.

  6. pgbryant says:

    Question-Answer Relationship Strategy (QAR)

    The Question-Answer Relationship Strategy helps students to better understand how to answer and ask questions. Answering and asking questions while reading encourages students to monitor their comprehension. This strategy is a way to help students realize the answers they seek are related to the type of questions asked. It encourages students to be strategic about their search for answers based on awareness of different types of questions. It encourages students to be more efficient and strategic readers.

    There are four different types of questions to answer after reading a text.

    1. “Right There” questions are where the answer is found directly in the text. The answer may be one word or sentence, but there is only one right answer.

    2. “Think and Search” questions require students to think about the text and then search for the answer in the text. The answer could be found in more than one place in the text and the parts may need to be put together to answer the question.

    3. “Author and You” questions are answered based on what students already know coupled with what they have learned from reading the text. Students must understand the text in order to relate it to their prior knowledge. In order to answer the question, inferential thinking must be used and the reader must read between the lines as the answer is not explicitly in the text.

    4. “On Your Own” questions require answers that can not be found in the text. These types of questions are answered based on student’s prior knowledge and experiences, using inferential thinking.

    When the Question-Answer Relationship strategy is reduced to the level of discrete skills or steps, the authenticity and effectiveness would be lost. The thinking involved in the strategy may no longer be necessary. The strategy would not lead to the intended goal.

    Adapted from Adler, C.R. (Ed). 2001. Seven strategies to teach students text comprehension. Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read, pp. 49-54. National Institute for Literacy. Retrieved from

    Adapted from the works of Pearson, P.D. & Johnson, D.D. (1972) and Raphael ,T.E. (1982, 1984, 1986). Question-answer relationships. Presented at Staff development for educators conference. Retrieved from

    Question-answer relationships. (n.d.). Retrieved from

  7. After reading Neil Duke’s presentation, it made me realize that there are definitely ways you can teach comprehension strategies, especially to students K-3. Before reading, I always knew there were strategies, I just could not pin point them. I like how he discusses the explicit teaching steps to take when teaching comprehension. I believe in this case, the way Duke describes explicitly teaching the strategy works because it is broke down into steps. For those of you that have not read his presentation, his steps include:
    – An explicit description of the strategy and when and
    how it should be used.
    – Teacher and/or student modeling of the strategy in
    – Collaborative use of the strategy in action.
    – Guided practice using the strategy with gradual release
    of responsibility.
    – Independent use of the strategy (Duke, 2001).
    These steps help to build different strategies for comprehension, for example, making predictions. This also ties in with Think Alouds.

    By getting students to reflect on the process of thinking aloud as they read, we’re encouraging them to recognize the difference between reading the words and comprehending the text. (Connor & Farr, 2011)

    I believe these are only two of many important comprehension strategies, but these definitely can help a student to understand the text they are reading, and the importance of being a good reader.


    Connor, J., & Farr, R. (2011, May 20). Using think alouds to improve reading comprehension. Retrieved from

    Duke, N. (2001, September). Building comprehension through explicit teaching of comprehension strategies Presentation presented at Second annual mra/ciera

  8. I found this site, good and practical information
    here’s some of it

    Instructional strategies

    1. Direct Instruction
    The Direct instruction strategy is highly teacher-directed and is among the most commonly used. This strategy is effective for providing information or developing step-by-step skills. It also works well for introducing other teaching methods, or actively involving students in knowledge construction.

    2. Indirect Instruction
    In contrast to the direct instruction strategy, indirect instruction is mainly student-centered, although the two strategies can complement each other.
    Indirect instruction seeks a high level of student involvement in observing, investigating, drawing inferences from data, or forming hypotheses. It takes advantage of students’ interest and curiosity, often encouraging them to generate alternatives or solve problems.
    In indirect instruction, the role of the teacher shifts from lecturer/director to that of facilitator, supporter, and resource person. The teacher arranges the learning environment, provides opportunity for student involvement, and, when appropriate, provides feedback to students while they conduct the inquiry (Martin, 1983).

    3. Experiential Learning
    Experiential learning is inductive, learner centered, and activity oriented. Personalized reflection about an experience and the formulation of plans to apply learning to other contexts are critical factors in effective experiential learning. The emphasis in experiential learning is on the process of learning and not on the product.
    Experiential learning can be viewed as a cycle consisting of five phases, all of which are necessary:
    • experiencing (an activity occurs);
    • sharing or publishing (reactions and observations are shared);
    • analyzing or processing (patterns and dynamics are determined);
    • inferring or generalizing (principles are derived); and,
    • applying (plans are made to use learning in new situations).

    4. Independent Study
    Independent study refers to the range of instructional methods which are purposefully provided to foster the development of individual student initiative, self-reliance, and self-improvement. While independent study may be initiated by student or teacher, the focus here will be on planned independent study by students under the guidance or supervision of a classroom teacher. In addition, independent study can include learning in partnership with another individual or as part of a small group.

    5. Interactive Instruction
    Interactive instruction relies heavily on discussion and sharing among participants. Students can learn from peers and teachers to develop social skills and abilities, to organize their thoughts, and to develop rational arguments.
    The interactive instruction strategy allows for a range of groupings and interactive methods. It is important for the teacher to outline the topic, the amount of discussion time, the composition and size of the groups, and reporting or sharing techniques. Interactive instruction requires the refinement of observation, listening, interpersonal, and intervention skills and abilities by both teacher and students.
    The success of the interactive instruction strategy and its many methods is heavily dependent upon the expertise of the teacher in structuring and developing the dynamics of the group.

    What are Instructional Skills?
    Instructional skills are the most specific category of teaching behaviors. They are necessary for procedural purposes and for structuring appropriate learning experiences for students. A variety of instructional skills and processes exist.

    • Explaining
    • Some explanations are given to help students acquire or deepen their understanding of a concept, while others help students understand generalizations.

    • Demonstrating
    • Much student learning occurs through observing others. A demonstration provides the link between “knowing about” and “being able to do.” Research reveals that demonstrations are most effective when they are accurate, when learners are able to see clearly and understand what is going on, and when brief explanations and discussion occur during the demonstration (Arenas, 1988).

    • Questioning
    • Good questions should be carefully planned, clearly stated, and to the point in order to achieve specific objectives.

    • Questioning Techniques
    • The teacher should begin by obtaining the attention of the students before the question is asked. The question should be addressed to the entire class before a specific student is asked to respond. Calls for responses should be distributed among volunteers and non-volunteers, and the teacher should encourage students to speak to the whole class when responding. However, the teacher must be sensitive to each student’s willingness to speak publically and never put a student on the spot.

    • Levels of Questions
    • While the need for factual recall or comprehension must be recognized, teachers also need to challenge students with higher level questions requiring analysis, synthesis, or evaluation. The consideration of level is applicable at all grade levels and in all subject areas. All students need the opportunity to think about and respond to all levels of questions. Teacher probes or requests for clarification may be required to move students to higher levels of thinking and deeper levels of understanding.
    • Wait Time
    • Wait time is defined as the pause between asking the question and soliciting a response. Providing additional wait time after a student response also allows all students to reflect on the response prior to further discussion. Increased wait time results in longer student responses, more appropriate unsolicited responses, more student questions, and increased higher order responses. It should be noted that increased wait time is beneficial for students who speak English as a second language or English as a second dialect.

    • bbell116 says:

      In Kamil M., Improving adolescents literacy: Effective classroom and intervention practices, he discusses four direct and explicit comprehension strategies that are important for teachers that have been proven effective by What Works Clearinghouse. Students summarize main ideas, asking one selves questions, paraphrasing, and drawing inferences. Kamil also points out that it may not be the strategies but active participation of students that makes the biggest difference on comprehension.

    • aftonwebb says:

      Scientifically based reading research says effective comprehension instruction:
      -provides opportunities for students to read
      -integrates reading with other subject areas
      -focuses on meaning and the process of constructing meaning with the text
      -helps students understand what it means to be a successful reader
      -provides opportunities for discussing literature and other texts
      -depends upon the effectiveness of the teacher, not a particular program
      -utilizes diverse and flexible grouping patterns
      -utilizes a wide variety of reading materials
      -employs explicit instruction int he context of reading
      -focuses on developing independent, proficient readers
      -provides demonstrations of reading and comprehension practices
      -helps readers engage in the experiences of successful readers
      -is based on a model of emerging expertise
      -supports readers at the point of need
      -sees mistakes as opportunities to teach and learn, not habits to be broken
      -understand the connections between classrooms and the world
      -promotes the development of a community of readers

      Serafini, Frank. (2004). Lessons in comprehension: explicit instruction in the reading workshop.Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

  9. The best suggestion I have read is Wilhelm’s “SHOW ME — HELP ME — LET ME”
    Wilhelm, J. D. (2001). Improving comprehension with think-aloud strategies. New York: Scholastic Professional Books.

  10. Constructing Meaning

    Before we talk about comprehension it is important to understand what comprehension means. It is just a perception? Perhaps the ability to grasp ideas? The capacity of decoding text? According to Robinson, “The ability to adequately understand what is being read has always been the foundation of what is considered to be successful reading. In one sense, comprehension of text is an easy concept to recognize; yet it is also one of the most complex and relatively unknown cognitive processes in the field of literacy education.” (2005). Wilhelm states that, “Comprehension always attends to what is coded or written in the text, but it also depends upon the reader’s background experiences, purposes, feelings, and needs of the moment.”
    If a reader is “and equal and active partner with the text in the meaning making process of comprehension.” (Wilhelm, 2001) then the focus of the instruction of reading should be the reader, as individual.
    Here are some strategies Wilhelm suggests
    • Activate prior knowledge, and connect the applicable prior experiences to the reading (if students don’t have the requisite background knowledge about a topic, they will be unable to comprehend)
    • Set Purposes
    • Predict
    • Decode Text — identify word and sentence meanings
    • Summarize — bring meaning forward throughout the reading, building on prior information to create new and fuller meanings
    • Visualize — see characters, settings, situations, ideas, mental models
    • Question
    • Monitor understanding – the most salient difference between good and poor readers is that good readers know when — and often why — they are not comprehending
    • Use Clarifying and Corrective strategies where needed
    • Reflect on and Apply the meaning that has been made to new situations

    Before we go directly to comprehension, it is important to give some skills to the reader. Among so many components in the reading process, fluency is one to seems very important. Rasinsky and Samuels suggest that fluency (automaticity and prosody) is a “bridge from phonics to comprehension.” (2011) They suggest a guide for working fluency with student’
    Modeling fluent reading for students
    Assisted reading for support
    Practice reading, wide and deep (wide -jumping from one book to the next, one text to the next, etc; deep -repeated readings)
    Phrasing of words in meaningful groups
    Synergy to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts -“the total impact of instruction will become more than simply the sum of each of the elements implemented individually.”

    Once more I have to go back to Wilhelm’s “SHOW ME — HELP ME — LET ME”

    Robinson, R. D. (2005). Reading in reading instruction its history, theory, and development. Boston. Pearson Education, Inc.

    Samuels, S. J., & Farstrup, A. E. (2011). What research has to say about reading instruction. Newark, Del: IRA.

    Wilhelm, J. D. (2001). Improving comprehension with think-aloud strategies. New York: Scholastic Professional Books.

  11. Think Aloud Strategies
    Teachers may benefit from the use of drama/action strategies to help students comprehension of text. Jeff Wilhelm, Research on Think Aloud Straegies
    I like the idea of the think-aloud because it really requires students to process the information they have read.

    Comprehension requires the reader to be an active constructor of meaning. The research base shows that reading is a transaction in which the reader brings purposes and life experiences to bear to converse with the text. This meeting of the reader and the text results in “comprehension”.
    Jeff Willhelm, Teaching Comprehension
    I liked this because it connects to diffeent connections to text.
    Text- Self, Text-Text, Text-World,
    This website has posters for the different connections and books to use to teach them.

    Show Me- Help Me-Let Me sounds like a great strategy, a good use of modelingand then having the students do it. Simialr to I do-We do-You do.

    I also like the idea of visualizing as you read, it helps students keep track of what is going on in the story, therefore aiding in their comprehension of the text.

    As a Special Ed. teacher I have students go back and read the text several times, as they notice things they did not notice the first time around. I always let them go back to the text to answer questions they do not have the answers to. I find guided reading to be helpful. I use Corrective reading and after every paragraph or two there are questions that require the students to understand the text read. If not we go back and read it again.

  12. ylkrakau says:

    Connecting to self, world, and other texts is a reading strategy that can aid in comprehension. By activating prior knowledge, students can relate to aspects of a text. This strategy can be used before, during, and after reading. Teachers can activate prior knowledge causing students to make connections by questioning before reading. Students can stop and connect to their own experiences, to world knowledge, or to other books/movies while they are reading. They can then build on those connections after the reading is over. This helps foster active reading which improves comprehension.

    If teachers break down the connecting strategy to skills and steps, the student is more focused on the activity than on the natural process of connecting something unknown to something known. It makes it more like a lesson or activity that they have to do in school versus something that is natural to do in any setting. Activating prior knowledge and connecting is natural and needs to be fostered in and out of the classroom. Meaning is easy to construct in reading when it is built upon meaning that is already there.

    Dymock, S., & Nicholson, T. (2010). “High 5!” strategies to enhance comprehension of expository
    text. Reading Teacher, 64(3), 166-178

  13. aimeedunn says:

    Is it cheating to use strategies that Anne taught us in previous classes?
    I liked:
    KWL- which helps students assess what they know, set a goal for what they want to know and then review what they learned.

    IEPC is a good reading strategy first you have to have a bit of knowledge about the book, such as title, chapter title, pictures, theme – very general knowledge. THe students Imagine what they think will happen. THen they Elaborate upon that imagining, using pictures from the text, previous knowledge and titles, captions and the like as clues. Next students Predict what will occur during the reading.
    Finally they Confirm whether the predictions were correct of false. Students could use words, pictures, collages, or any creative variety of showing to IMAGINE, ELABORATE, PREDICT, and CONFIRM!

    QtA- Questioning the Author is also a good skill. It consists of asking what the author was trying to say or what message was she trying to communicate.

    • aimeedunn says:

      My above response was a good example of lack of comprehension! As I did not study my notes carefully enough and reduced strategies to skills!
      I think the reason we don’t want to reduce the strategies to skills is because strategies are broadly applicable to all texts, frameworks and styles, where skills may get a student locked down into only being able to apply it in a very limited sense, usually the exact scenario in which they learned to use the skill.

      in this video there are some great strategies, such as expand vocabulary, understand the diversity of texts and purposes, and increase motivation- all things a teacher can guide a student to understand

      This video instructs that an important facet of comprehension is the ability to make inferences. It gives a demonstration of this skill, but I believe that the concept of making inferences is an important strategy to use while reading.

      From this video I “inferred” an important skill. Before reading the teacher or reader must accurately determine the end result. Are we seeking comprehension for a test or comprehension to build upon previous knowledge, or comprehension for pleasure? The end result will likely change the necessary skills to use to gain comprehension.

      This interesting fellow helps with a few more broadly applicable strategies
      Are you able to focus
      take your time
      take breaks to ensure comprehension
      pause after a section of reading to review

      (if he is right here can I put in a disclaimer that I have too much reading to do?…!)

      note important points or questions in your readings

      • aimeedunn says:

        My videos were off but above is the interesting guy- also sorry I didn’t know they would embed and take up all that space!

        In the reading – readings, chapter 4 p 102 I found it interesting to note that the questions for assessing comprehension were all very literal-level, single answer questions, and while there are some topics that this tactic would be appropriate for, try comprehending a poem in such a way and you would get laughed out of a room of poets! there are different ways to comprehend than single answer skills.

  14. emilythurber says:

    I don’t think using any examples from before is cheating… Isn’t that “activating prior knowledge?” He, he… As for “What happens when strategies are reduced to the discrete skills or steps,” I think that we are doing our best as teachers to allow kids to have access to the strategies that are supposed to be done in their heads. It seems like the only way we can slow down and model a process that should be monitored mostly metacognitively… Does that make sense? For example, think-alouds or KWLs are done to show kids processing steps to acheive meaning or ways to gain further meaning.

    Examples of constructing meaning strategies to help kids achieve understanding might include…

    – Chunking the Text: Break text into manageable units- encourages monitoring for comprehension.
    – Directed Reading and Thinking Activity (DR-TA) – Fosters critical awareness through predicting and questioning during text handling and guided reading.
    – SQ3R – Survey, Question, Read-Recite-Review – Similar to DR-TA, but basically follows the steps listed – promotes internalization of this process in kids’ heads, which leads to higher levels of thinking/ reflective thinking.
    – Read Aloud/ Think Aloud – Both of these encourage improving kids’ focus, awareness, and reading correctness (fluency, pronunciation, prosody) through modeling reading and thinking processes. These allow kids to see what good reading and good thinking looks like.
    – QAR – Helps students understand different levels of questioning (Right there, Think and search, The author and you, On your own) and practice using them – “Allows students to understand their thinking processes and develop their metacognitive abilities.” (Having kids know Bloom’s Taxonomy levels in upper grades helps them improve/solidify this metacognitive process.)
    – Graphic Organizers – These are discussed above at length, but worth repeating just because they make use of showing kids what they are thinking and if they are thinking about solid connections, etc…

    Source: (Thank you, Tennessee.)

    Also, I didn’t see anyone mention the second half of the purple CORE book- pretty priceless.

  15. bbell116 says:

    This weekend in another class someone shared a specific prediction strategy that I thought sounded fun. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where it came from, but I thought I would share. Before introducing the text the teacher writes a short description of the characters. Students read them and then take on that character and mingle in small groups. Students ask one another questions about the character and see if they can make any connections. After that you come back to a whole group and make predictions about the story based on the character descriptions.

  16. bbell116 says:

    Benefits of Jigsaw- cooperative learning:
    Stay on task
    Help each other
    Encourage each other
    Solve problems
    Give and accept feedback from peer
    This strategy encourages students to discuss and can be beneficial for second language learners. There are several different ways to jigsaw and mix up the groups.
    Retrieved from:

  17. sandydavidson1 says:

    Strategies for Reading Comprehension
    Children make personal connections with the text by using their schema. There are three main types of connections we can make during reading:

    •Text-to-Self: Refers to connections made between the text and the reader’s personal experience.

    •Text-to-Text: Refers to connections made between a text being read to a text that was previously read.

    •Text-to-World: Refers to connections made between a text being read and something that occurs in the world.

  18. sandydavidson1 says:

    Lint Roller Schema
    Here is a great way to explain “schema” to young children…Lint rollers pick up stuff that comes in contact with it, because it’s sticky (in much the same way that our brains “pick up stuff”). Everyone’s schema is different because we’ve had different experiences in our lives. To explain this concept to students, I share with them simple facts about myself that are “stuck on my brain”. (Each year I base my schema upon the interests of my students and I try to share with them funny things to grab their attention.
    Adapted from:

  19. sandydavidson1 says:

    Hit the Books:
    A favorite exercise in teaching young children to make connections is browsing and selecting five books that they’ve never read and would likely never select. That’s the key; pick up a book they never noticed before. Have children take some time to look through them. (They don’t have to read every page of each book). But get a sense of what the book is about…Look for connections to school or life.

  20. sandydavidson1 says:

    Play-doh Questioning:

    I like to introduce “questioning” to my students by giving them a small container of Play-Doh. When they are at their seats I tell them to “construct something”. I don’t give them any other directions. In a five minute period, I write down on a large chart paper the questions they are asking. (If a student directs a question to me, I simply shrug my shoulders). Next, I tell them to add something to their creation (as I write down what they are saying). Once I have generated a plethora of questions, I tell them to put their Play-Doh away and take a look at some of the things they said. I explain that good readers ask themselves questions (just like they did when they were given the Play-Doh with out any directions) to help them become better readers.
    Idea taken from:

  21. sandydavidson1 says:

    I wanted to post strategies for younger children. The website I used above had some wonderful ideas. It also has a lot of templates you can click on and open.

    In my opinion, when strategies are reduced to skills or steps, the comprehension is not as meaningful. I feel more stress is placed on the skills and steps rather than on the actual comprehensions strategy.

  22. kategrimmell says:

    After reading through a lot of websites and articles, I found a large variety of discrepancies when it came to vitally important reading strategies. Here were some I found:

    1. Monitoring comprehension – Student need to recognize when they no longer understand what they are reading or when they become confused and have a tool box of tools to help remedy their misunderstandings.
    2. Metacognition – Thinking about your thinking is something that highly effective readers do and it ties directly in with monitoring. Suggested usage is before, during and after reading and can include adjusting reading pace, clarifying their purpose and asking themselves questions about the text to better understand it.
    3. Graphic and semantic organizers – help students to understand relationships between concepts or texts using diagrams. These can help students focus on text features and create organized summary of the text.
    4. Answering questions – provide a purpose for reading, focus attention, think actively, encourage monitoring and help students review and relate content. QAR strategy encourages students to think about questions, such as “Right There”, “Think and Search”, “Author and You”, and “On Your Own”. These question types help guide students to where the answer can be located and how it can be accessed.
    5. Generating questions – student self-generating questions
    6. Recognizing story structure – recognizing categories of content (character, setting, events, problem, and resolution) to help improve comprehension.
    7. Summarizing – helps students to determine what is important and put it in their own words, therefore demonstrating a deeper understanding of the content.

    According to, these strategies should be taught explicitly, explaining to students why and when they should use these strategies and demonstrating just that through the use of direct explanation, modeling, guided practice and application.
    I think that some of these strategies can be reduced to steps, like graphic and semantic organizers, but metacognition would not be meaningful if it was just another thing that involved a specific number of steps that students had to follow. Also, there isn’t one right way to think about your thinking and therefore, metacognition and monitoring should not be reduced to discrete steps to follow and obey.

    Retrieved from:

  23. kategrimmell says:

    Another article I found on, listed the following strategies as vitally important:
    1. Activating background knowledge to make connections between new and known information.
    2. Questioning the text
    3. Drawing inferences
    4. Determining importance
    5. Creating mental images
    6. Repairing understanding when meaning breaks down
    7. Synthesizing information

    Many of these strategies are the same as I mentioned above, just with a different title. Researchers agree that we need to teach students to question, monitor comprehension, engage in metacognition and summarize information in some way. The skills listed above would not carry as much weight and meaning if they were deconstructed into a series of steps to follow.

    Retrieved from:

  24. kategrimmell says:

    Jeff Wilhelm listed the following reading strategies as REQUIRED to be an “active constructor of meaning as a reader”:
    1. Activitate prior knowledge
    2. Set purposes for why you are reading
    3. Predict what will happen next
    4. Decode text – identifying words and the meanings of sentences
    5. Summarizing
    6. Visualizing – creating a mind movie
    7. Questioning
    8. Monitoring your understanding and fixing it when you become confused (monitoring and metacognition)
    9. Use clarifying and corrective strategies when needed (monitoring and metacognition)
    10. Reflect on apply the new meanings learned to situations

    These are the first strategies that we should be teaching students because they are used the most often to make sense of text when reading.

    Retrieved from:

  25. jaydinova says:

    In early reading meanings are connections and relationships.Therefore it is necessary for children to make several kinds of relationships: of word to another word; of word to thing; of thing to another thing. Therefore it is effective to help children to learn to read naturally, to connect
    present experience to past experience. Meanings cannot be simply be handed out to children from teachers, parents or others. True meanings must be acquired by children in the community’s activity with both adults or peers. The children’s active role is of utmost importance in meaning construction. Being spoon fed information is not enough. A teacher can help by creating a free style classroom so that children are able to speak, think, and have discussions freely. Questions should be taken seriously with lots of time for consideration of the questions. (Seon-Heee, J, 2000)

  26. jaydinova says:

    Comprehension or construction of meaning strategies need not be as strategic as maps or charts. The more the student reads and is exposed to ALL TEXT the more that student will be able to associate and respond with various texts. Teachers can simply introduce the following to students to enhance their constructive meanings:
    environmental signs and labels
    rhymes, chants, songs
    wordless picture books
    predictable books
    cumulative stories
    print resources from all subject areas
    notes, messages, letters
    myths and legends
    writing by students and teachers
    newspapers, magazines, pamphlets
    The key is to stimulate the students imaginations and curiosity. Frequent opportunities to write also enhances the comprehension. By becoming an author themselves would only increases the students awareness of the organization and structures of printed text. Reading and writing begots reading and writing…….

  27. aftonwebb says:

    “Practice of comprehension strategies but virtually no instruction in strategy use” (p. 170).

    “We were struck by the almost complete absence of direct instruction about comprehension strategies.” (p. 172)

    “We observed only rare instances of explicit comprehension instruction. Indeed, the situation
    still seems to be much as Durkin described, with a great deal of testing of comprehension but very little teaching of it.” (p. 187)

    Pressley, M., Wharton-McDonald, R., Mistretta-Hampston, J., & Echevarria, M. (1998).Literacy instruction in 10 fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms in upstate New York. Scientific Studies of
    Reading, 2, 159-194.

    Taken from pg. 9 of James Cunningham’s presentation on Teaching Comprehension.

    Explicit instruction on how to use and develop comprehension strategies is key to combating low comprehension scores. This needs to be done before reading, during reading, and after reading.

    Elements of explicit reading and comprehension strategies and instruction:
    1-Instruction needs to be deliberate, and have a set purpose (for teacher and student). Students need to be aware of this purpose or goal.
    2. Comprehension lessons need to be tailored toward students’ needs and abilities. Observations should be done systematically to acquire this knowledge (checks for understanding, fluency, reading range, etc.)
    3. Restate and clarify learning goal or target. Again, this should be done before, during, and after reading. “Explicit instruction does not guarantee explicit learning. The more we clarify our intentions, the more we help students understand what we mean, the more effective comprehension lessons will be” (Serafini, 2004).
    4. Comprehension lessons need to establish relevancy inside and outside of school to create lasting meaning. “Relevance is created when students understand the purposes and objectives of our lessons and understand how they relate to their world and their goals” (Serafini, 2004).
    4. Teaching practices should be research-based, and from a wide range of methodologies and perspectives.

    Serafini, Frank. (2004). Lessons in comprehension: explicit instruction in the reading workshop.
    Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

    • aftonwebb says:

      What happens when strategies are reduced to the level of discrete skills or steps?

      To answer this honestly, I think it really depends on the student, their needs and abilities, and the skill being taught. The way I understood this was reducing strategies to SEPARATE skills or steps, meaning we’re breaking down an essential learning tool, such as comprehension, and making it easier for them to mentally digest. Everyone listed tons of useful ways that teachers break down comprehension; to name a few:
      KWL, Reading Workshops, Jigsaws, Play-doh Questioning, Making Connections (text-text, text-self, text-world), SQ3R, Graphic Organizers… the list could go on.

      If a student is over immersed in strategies below their ability or needs, or strategies are too overtly broken down, we lose student engagement and significantly decrease involvement in learning.

      On the flip side of this, if teachers don’t spend enough time giving explicit instruction on comprehension skills AND modeling how to practice them, students will be at a severe disadvantage throughout their academic career.

      “American youth need strong literacy skills to
      succeed in school and in life. Students who do not
      acquire these skills find themselves at a serious
      disadvantage in social settings, as civil participants,
      and in the working world.”
      Biancarosa, C., & Snow, C. E. (2006). Reading next—A vision for action and
      research in middle and high school literacy: A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.
      (Taken from pg. 2 of James Cunningham’s presentation.)

  28. CristaNielsen says:

    We know that many students continue to struggle with reading even after they have adequate knowledge of the reading principle. Additional skills and strategies that could enhance their reading fluency and comprehension include strategies that are useful prior to, during, and following reading for example K-W-L (Carr & Ogle, 1987; Ogle 1988-1989) and prediction (Hanson & Pearson 1983). Monitoring strategies provide students with tools to recognize and repair comprehension problems while reading (Beck, McKeown, Sandora, Kucan, & Worthy, 1996) provides students an opportunity to grapple with the text. Reciprocal teaching (Palinscar & Brown, 1984) teaches students to practice and eventually assume responsibility for implementing appropriate strategies to enhance reading and concept knowledge before, during and following reading.
    Other cognitive reading strategies that have shown to help strengthen students comprehension skills are click and chunk (Vaughn, Hughes, Schumm, & Klingner, 1998) which consisting of students reading sections of text and fix-up strategies to figure out the meaning of unknown words or concepts. Students would read the sentence before or after the chunk (word they don’t understand), and then use a “clink card” with a fix-up strategies to figure out the meaning of the unknown word. Get the gist (Vaughn, Hughes, Schumm, & Klingner, 1998) teaches students to identify the main idea in a reading section through summarizing the critical information by using about 10 words.
    Beck I. L. McKeown M.G. Sandora, C. Kucan, L. & Worthy, J. (1996) Questioning the author: A yearlong classroom implementation to engage students with text. The Elementary School Journal, 96, 385-414.
    Carr, E & Ogle D. (1987) K-W-L plus. A strategy for comprehension and summation. Journal of Reading, 30, 626-631.
    Palinscar, A. S. & Brown A.L. (1984). Reciprocal teaching for comprehension. Cognition and Instruction 117-175.
    Vaughn, S. Hughes, M.T. Schumm, J.S. & Klingner J.K. (1998) A collaborative effort to enhance reading and writing instruction in inclusion classrooms. Learning Disablity Quartely, 21(1). 57-74

  29. kbapples says:

    After looking at the Duke (2001) Powerpoint presented at the MRA/CIERA conference, titled “Building Comprehension through Explicit Teaching of Comprehension Strategies”, I can see the importance of not reducing strategies to discrete skills or steps. Explicit teaching of strategies involves: 1- Explicit description of the strategy and when and how to use it. 2- Teacher Modeling the strategy while reading the text aloud 3- Collaborative use of the strategy- Teacher/Student modeling 4- Guided Practice with gradual release of responsibility and 5- Independent practice.
    Good readers know how to read different kinds of text differently. Previous research has stated that children should be taught to read, and then read to learn. Duke cites Snow, Burns & Griffin (1998) and the NPR (2000) as supporting teaching decoding and comprehension simultaniously. The comprehension strategies involve the use of oral language to construct meaning. Creating environments that support understanding of text is an important component of building comprehension. The environment increases motivation, talking about the text, writing in support of reading, and exposure and access to different types of texts. I have found this while teaching, some students are self conscious when modeling thinking aloud or predicting because they feel the answers might be wrong. i think that is the beauty of teaching strategies, that each reader is unique and will create meaning in text that is unique to their situtation. I used a program called Imagine It! when teaching 5th grade. It seems to be grounded in this research, especially Duke’s statement that “Comprehension is a consuming, continuous, and complex activity, but one that for good readers, is both satisfying and productive.” Time consuming-absolutely. Continuous? of course, every week of Imagine It was a new story/text with explicit, almost scripted, instruction of strategies.Boring?-also yes. Some students found it difficult to make meaning from the whole text because there were so many ‘comprehension strategy checks’ along the way. Hopefully, they are able to use the strategies in their independent reading and find the satisfaction in reading and understanding.

  30. Nell Duke’s Presentation was really interesting. I loved how she explained that reading is explicit instruction and listed some of the developing (growing) areas that are needed for students to develop reading comprehension such as:
    – Motivation to read
    -Talk about text
    -Writing in support of reading
    – Exposure and Access
    – A strong base in decoding, monitoring, and fluency

    In Duke’s presentation she provides examples of both individual and package strategies (whole group) for enhancing reading comprehension:
    Individual Strategies
    – Making predictions- making educated guesses about what you read. This allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of the reading because they are using context clues to predict what will happen next in the story. (Showing comprehension of what they have read thus far).
    – Think-alouds- this can be modeled by teachers or students. In this the reader talks about the story as they are reading it, asking themselves questions about the text to find a deeper level of comprehension. The reader questions characters, events, the meaning behind words they do not understand, etc.
    – Summarizing- after reading a selection the reader takes all of the important events and “sums” up or retells the story only using the main ideas they found. This is an easy way for students to explain to the teacher what they have read and retained.

    Routines or Packages
    – Questioning the Author- reader’s think about the reading and try to gain a deeper meaning of the text by questioning the authors motives behind the text:
    What did the author mean?
    What was the main message the author was trying to get across?
    Does the author say this outright?
    How does this connect to what you predicted?
    What information did the author give us? What did they leave out?

    Each one of these strategies allows for students to work by themselves or collaborate in groups. Each requires students to read beyond the text and find the deeper meaning behind what they have read, thus allowing them to hone their reading comprehension skills.

    Duke, N. K., & Pearson, P. D. (in press). Effective practices for developing rea omprehension. To appear in A. E. Farstrup & S. J. Samuels (Eds.), What Rese
    as to Say about Reading Instruction. Newark, DE: IRA.

  31. Here are some graphic organizers and strategies I found. I really liked this website and they provide readers with organizers and tips 🙂

    Used to compare or contrast information from two sources. For example, comparing two Dr. Seuss books.

    Storyboard/Chain of Events
    Used to order or sequence events within a text. For example, listing the steps for brushing your teeth.

    Story Map
    Used to chart the story structure. These can be organized into fiction and nonfiction text structures. For example, defining characters, setting, events, problem, resolution in a fiction story; however in a nonfiction story, main idea and details would be identified.

    Used to illustrate the cause and effects told within a text. For example, staying in the sun too long may lead to a painful sunburn.

    The Question-Answer Relationship strategy (QAR) encourages students to learn how to answer questions better. Students are asked to indicate whether the information they used to answer questions about the text was textually explicit information (information that was directly stated in the text), textually implicit information (information that was implied in the text), or information entirely from the student’s own background knowledge.

    There are four different types of questions:
    “Right There”
    Questions found right in the text that ask students to find the one right answer located in one place as a word or a sentence in the passage.

    Example: Who is Frog’s friend? Answer: Toad

    “Think and Search”
    Questions based on the recall of facts that can be found directly in the text. Answers are typically found in more than one place, thus requiring students to “think” and “search” through the passage to find the answer.

    Example: Why was Frog sad? Answer: His friend was leaving.

    “Author and You”
    Questions require students to use what they already know, with what they have learned from reading the text. Student’s must understand the text and relate it to their prior knowledge before answering the question.

    Example: How do think Frog felt when he found Toad? Answer: I think that Frog felt happy because he had not seen Toad in a long time. I feel happy when I get to see my friend who lives far away.

    “On Your Own”
    Questions are answered based on a students prior knowledge and experiences. Reading the text may not be helpful to them when answering this type of question.

    Example: How would you feel if your best friend moved away? Answer: I would feel very sad if my best friend moved away because I would miss her.

    5. Generating questions
    By generating questions, students become aware of whether they can answer the questions and if they understand what they are reading. Students learn to ask themselves questions that require them to combine information from different segments of text. For example, students can be taught to ask main idea questions that relate to important information in a text.

    6. Recognizing story structure
    In story structure instruction, students learn to identify the categories of content (characters, setting, events, problem, resolution). Often, students learn to recognize story structure through the use of story maps. Instruction in story structure improves students’ comprehension.

    7. Summarizing
    Summarizing requires students to determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words. Instruction in summarizing helps students:
    Identify or generate main ideas
    Connect the main or central ideas
    Eliminate unnecessary information
    Remember what they read

  32. sarajcox says:

    Tompkins (2003) states that reading comprehension is a mysterious process of making meaning or understanding what children read. “It seems mysterious because it is invisible; some children read and understand what they read, and others seem to read just as well but don’t understand what they read (p. 203). She suggests that students who are not able to chunk words into phrases and read fluently are unable to make meaning of the text they are reading. Reading is a process not a strategy. “Reading is a process in which readers comprehend and construct meaning. During reading, the meaning does not go from the page to readers. Instead, reading is a complex negotiation among the text, readers, and their purpose is shaped by many factors (Tompkins, p. 271).”

  33. deldredge says:

    Ideas from

    A reading strategy that I have applied when teaching ELL students is to connect the text to real life experiences, other texts, or prior knowledge. Application of this strategy includes prompting the reader to ask questions like: do the characters in the story represent similar people; are you familiar with the story subject, if so, how; and how is the genre or writing style similar to something you have read or seen before. After thinking about the previous similarities and/or orally discussing them, encourage students to write the similarities down. Writing was a challenge for my student so I encouraged him to draw pictures of the connections.

    • deldredge says:

      Oops forgot the second part of this post…

      If you attempt to break this strategy down into a step-by-step process, it would seem that you would loose the opportunity for comprehension of the text to take place. The student would be worried about completing the first step and what to do in the next step verses concentrating their energy on how the text relates to them in a personal manner.

  34. hondo7 says:

    I look more at the students in the classroom with a disability. These students are typically marginalized and move toward the shadows of the classroom.
    A method that I have found that works is the differentiated instruction by Carol Tomilson. This strategy assigns different levels for student participation and grading purposes. If we are truly going to reach every student every day, then why are we not modifying our teaching content to fit the learning style of the individual student?

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