Reading Goals: Strategies for Comprehension

General goal for comprehension: Students will increase in the use of cognitive strategies to build knowledge from text. Evidence of strategy use will be based on frequency, appropriateness and effectiveness of the use of strategies, and the complexity of texts to which strategies are applied. The strategies follow.

1. Activating background knowledge

Recalling what students know about the topic of a text before reading and during reading for the purpose of learning the content as fully as possible, and linking the new content to prior understanding.

3rd grade benchmarks
  • A few simple concepts that might serve as organizing ideas
  • Limited descriptive information supporting or illustrating the concepts
  • Basic definitions of central concepts
  • Relevance to the topic to be read
  • Distinctions of the topic from similar topics
4th grade benchmarks
  • Several facts and/or concepts that are related to the topic
  • Significant illustrative information supporting concepts (supporting details for more than one concept)
  • One or more causal explanations included

2. Questioning

Questioning refers to students asking or writing self-initiated questions about the content of the text before and during reading to help them understand the text and topic.

3rd grade benchmarks
  • students ask or write questions with teacher request but not teacher assistance
  • questions request concepts and explanations
  • information within questions enables them to probe deeply
  • several questions are asked that are linked and integrated
  • questions are related to texts available to students
  • questions presume and request classifications and contrasts
4th grade benchmarks
  • students can write questions in good form (full sentence with punctuation)
  • information within the questions allows students to probe deeply about concepts
  • questions are related to a variety of texts available to students
  • questions integrate information from different sources and can contrast information from different sources
  • questions presume contrasts and classifications across species, organisms, biomes etc.
  • students are aware of the difference between conceptual/explanation questions and factual questions and see the relationships among these (i.e. factual questions subsumed under conceptual questions)
  • students evaluate the quality of questions (their own and classmates) for improving learning from text
  • students can relate the content of questions to content of their new learning from text (they know how well they answered their questions)
  • students can generate questions with minimal teacher prompting before, during, and after reading

3. Searching for information

Searching for information refers to students seeking and finding a subset of information in the total text by forming specific goals, selecting particular sections of text, extracting information accurately, combining new and old information, and continuing until goals are fulfilled.

3rd grade benchmarks
  • Search is conducted at teacher request but not with teacher assistance
  • Students focus on several goals or questions to guide a search
  • Beginning knowledge of organization of resources (books)
  • Competence in using several text features to locate goal-relevant information
  • Use of 1-2 texts or resources in a search
  • Careful reading of selected sections of books or information sources
  • Integration of information gleaned from 1-2 locations in a book
4th grade benchmarks
  • Selection of texts appropriate to students' reading (word recognition) levels with minimal teacher assistance
  • Ability to adjust the goals by adding relevant synonyms or new terms
  • Knowledge of how diverse expository books are organized (table of contents, index, sections, headings, etc.)
  • Use of most features of books (topic sentences, picture captions, side bars, illustrations as examples, etc.)
  • Use of 2-5 texts or resources in a search
  • Accurate, critical reading of selected sections of books or information sources
  • Integration of information gleaned from multiple locations in books or sources
  • Monitoring their processes of searching, including their goals, selection of materials, extraction of critical details, and integration across texts
  • Knowing when to search vs. when to fully comprehend a text
  • Initiating searches when it is appropriate to the task set by the teacher, or the purposes of a project

4. Summarizing

Summarizing refers to students forming an accurate abstract representation (summary) of the text after reading all or a substantial portion of material.

3rd grade benchmarks
  • Summaries are written for a page or a chapter of an information book
  • Central idea is accurately identified
  • Supporting facts and details are identified for the central idea
  • Most unimportant information is omitted
  • Summary is organized around key topics, not original text sequence
  • Teacher prompting but not teacher assistance or guidance
4th grade benchmarks
  • Summaries are written for a chapter or for full information book
  • Central idea is accurately identified
  • Several supporting facts and details are identified for the central idea
  • Unimportant information is omitted from written summary
  • Summary is organized around key concepts, not original text sequence
  • Students compose summaries with minimal teacher request
  • Students can evaluate the quality of a summary (self or peers)
  • Students use mini-summaries of a portion of text to write summary of full book
  • Students appropriately initiate a mini-summary activity to aid their synthesis of multiple texts

5. Integrating graphically

Integrating graphically refers to students' construction of a spatial representation of text-based knowledge, which may include drawings, concept maps, and diagrams.

3rd grade benchmarks
  • Students compose graphic organizer at teacher's request
  • Students supply the words and links with the organizer provided by the teacher
  • Graphic organizers are made for page or section of book, but not the total book
  • Spatial display of text information is internally consistent
  • Minimal structures of a hierarchy, time sequence, cause-effect, or other organizational styles are clear
  • Super-ordinate concepts and subordinate information are present
  • Links among concepts show key relationships (labeled or unlabeled)
  • Students are aware of text sources for the concepts and links depicted in their organizers
4th grade benchmarks
  • Student supplying all aspects of organizer including main concepts, support, and organization
  • Graphic organizers are made for sections of books
  • Organization is internally consistent
  • Structured in a hierarchy, such as time sequence, cause-effect, or others
  • Multiple super-ordinate concepts and several subordinate ones with additional supporting information
  • Labeling or wording links among concepts showing key relationships
  • Students compose graphic organizer by supplying the words, links, and organizing structure
  • Students critically discuss the qualities, inclusiveness, and relationships of a graphic organizer
  • Students can diagnose misconceptions of organizer as representation of text
  • Students occasionally compose organizer for a text on their own initiative

6. Structuring story

Structuring story refers to student understanding of setting, plot, character, motives, themes, and their relationships in literature.

3rd grade benchmarks
  • Setting (time and place)
  • Main character and one additional character
  • Goals of characters
  • At least one aspect of plot (character's action toward goal)
  • One obstacle facing the main character
  • Ending or resolution is identified
  • Students give a minimal personal response to the story
4th grade benchmarks
  • Setting (time and place)
  • Main character's multiple goals and motives (and one additional character)
  • Several episodes of plot (character's actions toward goals)
  • Two or more obstacles facing the main character and other characters
  • Ending or resolution is identified and critically appraised
  • Students give a personal response to the story reflecting affects (feelings, attitudes, beliefs) that are similar and different from one or more characters
  • Students show awareness of story structure by making predictions during reading, discussing the basis for the predictions and checking them for accuracy
  • Children reveal conceptual knowledge about the topic of the text in their explanations about the characters or events in a story (life cycle of swans)
  • Children's writing reflects the literary craft of authors' including multiple perspectives of characters, figurative language, and cultural diversity

We are adding two strategies this year. These are:

7. Elaborative Interrogation.

Elaborative interrogation refers to asking and answering "why" questions to make connections in the text.

3rd grade benchmarks
  • Students refer to the topic generally ("it tells about [topic of passage]")
  • Students restate factual information in the sentence
  • Students refer to 1-2 facts in the previous sentence that related to the questioned sentence
4th grade benchmarks
  • Students show all competencies from grade 3 benchmarks
  • Students refer to information much earlier in the passage vaguely but accurately
  • Students may relate the sentence to generalizations they drew from prior text
  • Students describe specifically how information in this sentence builds on information in 2 or more prior sentences

8. Question-Answer-Relations

This strategy consists of identifying the relationship between a text, a question related to that text, and the answer to the question. Possible relationships include: (a) explicit (answer is right there), (b) implicit (answer is inferred from a sentence or possibly two), and (c) combined information (answer required integration of text information from many locations, and integration with prior knowledge).

3rd grade benchmarks
  • Students identify explicit QAR for a majority of texts at their reading level
  • Students identify implicit QAR with substantial assistance for many texts at their reading level
  • Students identify combined QAR for relatively easy text with clear guidance from teacher
  • Students can describe (show awareness of) different types of QAR
4th grade benchmarks
  • Students identify explicit QAR for a majority of texts at their reading level
  • Students identify implicit QAR with minimal assistance for most texts at their reading level
  • Students identify combined QAR for most texts with minor assistance from teacher
  • Students can describe (show awareness of) different types of QAR
  • Students initiate the identification of QAR to assist their reading activities when questions are posed

General Goal for Reading Fluency: Reading fluency refers to the ability to read words aloud with expression that conveys meaning of the text. Needed are well-developed word recognition and word attack skills.


Instructional Practices for Supporting Reading Strategy Use

During strategy instruction, teachers enable students to learn and to use cognitive strategies for reading comprehension. The goal is to have students become competent with strategy use, become aware of how and when to use the strategies they learned, and finally become able to use strategies on their own.

Teachers will provide direct, explicit strategy instruction daily, which consists of:

  1. identifying text for instruction, which include both information and literary texts;
  2. teaching vocabulary, word recognition, and spelling using trade books as the main source of these lessons,
  3. giving explanation, modeling, scaffolding, and helping students practice to become independent in the use of the strategy;
  4. assuring students record outcomes of strategy use in their personal portfolios, (e) have students collaborate within teams and the whole class for outcomes of strategy use and comprehension activities.

There is also a plan for the struggling readers in the classroom to have opportunities for fluency development and explicit strategy instruction in a smaller group/individual setting. The strategy instruction schedule in Phase I (weeks 1-6) consists of teaching one strategy per week. During Phase II (weeks 7-12), students will learn the same six strategies in the same sequence, one per week, and cumulatively add strategies as the weeks progress (e.g., combining activating background knowledge with questioning).