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The Getting-Ready-to-Read Strategy: A 3-Step Guide for Reading Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jul 1, 2014 1:07:00 PM


If you’re looking to equip your students with a set of reading strategies that will teach them to take charge of their reading experience and approach texts with a purpose in mind, you might find Dorothy Grant Hennings’s three-step reading strategy useful. While this strategy will be especially useful for secondary students who are preparing for college, Hennings’s Getting-Ready-to-Read Strategy can certainly be adapted for use with younger readers.

The Getting-Ready-to-Read Strategy: A 3-Step Guide for Reading Teachers

Step 1: Preview before reading
The first step in reading is to preview the selection you are going to read. Why? So that you can find your bearings and gain a general sense of what the selection is about before diving straight in.

There are a few questions you should keep in mind as you preview a selection:

  • What is the topic of this selection? In other words, what is this selection about?
  • How has the author organized his or her ideas on the topic?

To answer these two questions, read and think about:

  • The title. Titles often contain clues about the topic
  • The author. Generally speaking, authors stick to one area—fiction, history, biology, etc.—and if you know something about the author, you can find more clues about the topic
  • The headings. Is the text divided into sections by headings? If so, you may find more clues about subtopics and learn more about how the text has been organized
  • Terms that are repeated at the beginnings of paragraphs or words that are italicized or bolded. Words that are italicized, bolded, or repeated are important to the author. Pay attention to them!
  • The introductory and concluding paragraphs. These paragraphs will tell you more about what the selection is going to be about and what the author thinks about the topic.
  • The illustrations. Do you see any photos, graphs, maps, drawings? These may help you figure out the major focus of a selection
  • The margin notes or footnotes. These sections often contain definitions of key terms, which give you clues about what the selection is about

Step 2: Think about what you already know
Now that you’ve previewed the text and gathered clues, ask yourself, “What do I already know about this topic?” To answer this question, visualize, or picture, things that are discussed in the selection and connect them to things you already know something about. It may be helpful to jot down words or sketch out images that come to your mind about the topic.

Step 3: Setting your purpose for reading
Are you reading for pleasure? Are you reading for a particular course? Before diving into the selection, think about what you expect to learn from reading this piece. If you’re reading for pleasure, you probably already know what you hope to get from the text before reading. But if you’re working with an assigned reading, it’s likely that the instructor expects you to use these texts to learn more about a subject to prepare for a test.

Photo credit: RLHyde / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Guide to Reading Comprehension

Tags: critical reading, critical thinking strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading ability

I read it, but I don't understand it: 4 reading strategies that work

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jan 26, 2013 6:00:00 AM

reading strategiesIf you’re looking to equip your struggling upper-elementary and middle school readers with a set of reading strategies that will teach them to monitor and take charge of their own understanding, look no further. Janette Klingner, Sharon Vaughn, Alison Boardman and Elizabeth Swanson’s Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) approach has got you covered. We do wish to emphasize that CSR is not “curriculum in a box.” It’s a flexible set of reading strategies that will give you and your students the freedom to improvise in a structured way. We’re going to talk about a specific reading strategy the authors call “Click and Clunk.”

I read it, but I don't get it: 4 reading strategies that work

Step 1: Preview the text
Before you ask your students to preview a text, you might use an analogy.

Ask them about the last time they went to the theatre and what motivated them to go. Chances are that they saw a preview, which helped them ascertain who starred in the film, in what historical period it took place, what genre it might be placed in, and ultimately, whether or not it would be wise to drop $10 (plus another $5 for Junior Mints) on the experience. Now apply this to previewing a text:

Have your students look at a particular passage in a text and give them two or three minutes to preview it. Have them take note of the title, subtitle and look for bolded or italicized keywords. As they complete these simple preliminary steps, they should also:

  • Take note of headings, pictures, bolded words
  • Reflect on what they already know about the subject
  • Predict what they will learn from it

Step 2: Read the passage aloud
This is pretty straight forward. The only note we have on this is that your students should have a pencil handy. If you don’t want them to mark on the pages of the text, they’ll need a notebook, too.

Step 3:  Figure out what “clicked” and what “clunked”
Click and Clunk is a way to help develop your students’ metacognitive skills. It is, in other words, a way to get them thinking about what they are thinking as they approach a text.

  • Clicks refer to sections of the text that “click,” that make sense to the reader, and allow her to proceed through the text without hiccups.

    refer to portions of a text (words or concepts) that confuse the reader and cause breakdowns in his or her comprehension.

Step 4: Put fix-up strategies into play
Once your students have read the passage and identified the sections that “clunked,” they should:

  • Reread the sentence that clunked
  • Search for context clues in the sentences before and after the sentence that clunked
  • If students are bi-lingual, have them look for cognates
  • Study the word parts. Do you recognize a prefix, suffix or root word?

Your students will acclimate to this system quickly; once they do, feel free to assign a strong reader to be the Leader of each reading group. S/he will be the “Clunk Expert,” someone responsible for making sure that each group member jots down any clunks s/he came across in the passage. The “Clunk Expert” is also responsible for facilitating the fix up reading strategies we listed above. 

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: effective reading strategies, critical reading, reading comprehension, reading motivation

4 reading strategies to help your students read with purpose

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Nov 27, 2012 9:34:00 AM

Reading StrategiesA few months ago when I was “cleaning” (or at least going through the motions of it), I took a break to look through a few random literary collections. One was Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, a book I hadn’t read since my sophomore year of high school. As I flipped through the novel nearly fifteen years later, I chuckled at the randomness of the faded neon highlighter. On some pages, nearly every sentence was highlighted—then there was nothing for another fifty pages. I remember reading and enjoying the book, but years later, it was clear that I certainly wasn’t versed in critical reading as a sophomore lad. 

Like critical thinking, critical reading is something many teachers take for granted because we know how to do it. But we need to remember that critical reading is a learned reading strategy, one that we must teach our students. Here are 4 ways to help you do just that:

4 reading strategies to help your students read with purpose

1. Reflect on your own reading strategies
Unless we can get into our students’ heads and squeeze into their shoes, we’re going to struggle to appreciate what they go through. Here’s a simple exercise that will help you not only see reading from a student’s perspective, but it will also help you observe your own reading strategies.

  • Find a book that is unfamiliar, slightly out of your comfort zone and not particularly interesting to you
  • Flip to a random section and start reading
  • As you read, take note of what’s happening to you: Is your mind wandering? Do you have to reread sections to comprehend them? What sections are you underlining or circling?
  • How would you find your footing? Would you flip to the previous chapter? Would you read the introduction and conclusion paragraphs first? Would you take a look at the table of contents or read the author’s biography?

More than likely, you’re feeling a little lost, aren’t you? The same thing happens to our students when we send them off on a mission to tackle seemingly random passages or chapters without giving them a clear sense of purpose or clues as to how they’re going to be using the text once they’ve read it.

2. Give students a clear sense of purpose
Many of us worry that telling our students what to look for means that we’re doing all of the legwork for them. But reflect on your own reading strategies. If you were reading a novel for pleasure, you’d use a very different reading strategy than you would if you were reading the same novel for critical analysis, a presentation or a response paper.

When you read for pleasure, you’re probably reading somewhat “superficially,” right? In other words, you’re probably not laboring over paragraphs. More than likely, you’re simply enjoying the plot and taking in the scenery. But when you are given a specific task, when you know why you are reading something, you’re going to dig into the text in a much deeper way.

When you think of it this way, giving your students hints as to what they should be looking for isn’t “cheating” or “babying” them at all.

3. Allow your students to invent their own purpose
If you’d like your students to find their own way, at least equip them with a few reading strategies that will help them find a sense of purpose. Here are two such strategies:

  • The Selfish Reader: It’s important, not to mention fun, to be a “selfish reader”—that is, a reader who says, “So what? Why should I care about this? How does it impact me? How does it impact my world?” Asking these questions will not only force your students to interrogate the author, it will also force them to keep their own presuppositions and biases in check.
  • The Connecting Reader: There are certainly exceptions, but ideally, texts shouldn’t be read in isolation. Whatever students read should transcend the classroom, spill over into their other classes and into their own personal lives. Students learn to make connections between seemingly unrelated books and classroom activities not on their own, but when it is modeled for them.

4. Show them how to look for key words and signal phrases
Most writers use certain signal or transitional phrases that, if you know how to look for them, draw attention to essential information. Experienced and critical readers know, for example, that when an author says, “thus” or “therefore,” they should pay close attention. The same goes for “however,” “moreover,” etc. Words like “First,” suggest to us that it is likely that there will be a “Second” and “Third” point the author is going to make—which, again, means that we know to pay close attention. Instead of having our student learn the hard way, why not simply show them the tricks we’ve picked up over the years?

If you’re looking for more reading strategies, check out one of our recent articles, 5 Ways to Help Your Students with Critical Reading and Reading Critically. We would also like to give credit to Cris Tovani’s article, The Power of Purposeful Reading, for many of the strategies we’ve included here.


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Tags: effective reading strategies, critical reading, reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading motivation, struggling readers

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