Early Literacy


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The explicit teaching of reading strategies helps students to become increasingly skillful at interpreting, understanding, and analyzing text. As with any new skill, these reading strategies should be taught through a scaffolding method, which includes modeling the strategy, providing students with opportunities for guided practice with the strategy, and then having students independently apply the strategy.

Because students have different reading styles, they are not likely to find all reading strategies equally useful. While a particular strategy may reinforce a strength that one student has or may provide the key to overcoming a reading difficulty, the same strategy may prove to be cumbersome or tedious to another student. For this reason, the explicit teaching of reading strategies should also include opportunities for students to reflect on the effectiveness of the strategy.

By considering questions such as:

  • How does this strategy help me to understand the text?
  • How does this strategy relate to something I already do or don’t do as a reader?
  • How might I use this strategy with texts from other subject areas?

Students will become increasingly aware of the strategies that help them to read more effectively.

The following list contains strategies which most students find effective. The letters in parentheses indicate if the reading strategy is best used before reading (B), during reading (D), and/or after reading (A).

Annolighting A Text (D/A)

This active reading strategy links concept of highlighting key words and phrases in a text and annotating those highlights with marginal notes.

Annotating A Text (D/A)

Annotating a text is an effective strategy to promote active and critical reading skills: this strategy provides a number of useful acronyms that students can use to remember different elements of writer’s craft when reading and annotating a text.

Anticipation Guide (B)

Anticipation guides are typically used as a pre-reading strategy and help to engage students in thought and discussion about ideas and concepts that they will encounter in the text.

Checking out the Framework (B)

This strategy provides students with suggestions for previewing texts of different genre in order to read strategically based on their purposes for reading the text.

Collaborative Annotation (D/A)

This strategy engages students in a process of co-constructing their interpretations of a text through a collaborative annotation activity.

Conversations Across Time (B/D/A)

This reading strategy helps students to develop deeper insights by making connections between and across texts from different time periods in response to a common topic, theme, or essential question.

Dense Questioning (D/A)

The dense questioning strategy can be used to help students pose increasingly dense questions as they make text-to-text, text-to-self, text-to-world connections.

Frame of Reference (B/D/A)

The frame of reference strategy teaches students how to create a mental context for reading a passage; this is accomplished by helping students to consider that they know about a topic and how they know what they know.

Inferential Reading (D/A)

The inferential reading strategy provides a list of the various types of inferences that readers make while reading even seemingly straightforward text; recognizing that there are different types of inferences helps students to analyze text more consciously and strategically.

Interactive Notebook (B/D/A)

This highly adaptable strategy encourages students to use a two-column note-taking strategy. In the right column, they take notes to synthesize essential ideas and information from a text, presentation, film, etc.; in the left-hand column, they interact with the content in any way they choose (personal connections, illustrations, etc.)

Key Concept Synthesis (B/D/A)

The key concept synthesis strategy helps students to identify the most important ideas in a text, put those ideas into their own words, and then make connections among these important ideas.

Listening to Voice (D/A)

This strategy helps students to analyze and interpret writer’s voice through the annotation of a passage, with particular emphasis on dictions, tone, syntax, unity, coherence, and audience.

Metaphor Analysis (D/A)

This adaptable strategy teaches students how to analyze a complex metaphor and substantiate interpretive claims using textual evidence.

Parallel Note-taking (D/A)

The parallel note-taking strategy teaches students to recognize different organizational patterns for informational texts and then develop a note-taking strategy that parallels the organization of the text.

QAR: Question-Answer Relationships (B/D/A)

The QAR strategy helps students to identify the four Question-Answer Relationships that they are likely to encounter as they read texts and attempt to answer questions about what they have read. These including “right there” questions, “think and search” questions, “author and you” questions, and “on my own” questions.

Questions Only (B/D/A)

The questions only strategy teaches students how to pose questions about the texts they are reading and encourages them to read actively as they work to answer the questions they have posed.

RAFT: Role, Audience, Format, Topic (A)

This is a flexible post-reading strategy that helps students to analyze and reflect upon their reading through persona writing. Based on suggestions provided by the teacher or generated by the class, students choose a Role, an Audience, A format, and a Topic on which to write in response to their reading.

Reciprocal Teaching (B/D/A)

The reciprocal teaching strategy enables students to activate four different comprehension strategies – predicting, questioning, clarifying, summarizing – which they apply collaboratively to help each other understand a text they are reading.

Sociograms (D/A)

A sociogram is a visual representation of the relationships among characters in a literary text. Students can make use of pictures, symbols, shapes, colors and line types to illustrate these relationships to understand the traits of each character, and to analyze the emerging primary and secondary conflicts.

Think Aloud (B/D/A)

Skillful readers unconsciously use a range of strategies to make meaning from text. The think aloud strategy involves modeling these strategies by “thinking aloud” while reading and responding to a text. By making explicit for students what is implicit for more expert readers, it becomes possible for students to develop and apply these strategies themselves.

Transactional Reading Journal (D)

The name of this reading strategy is inspired by the work of Louise Rosenblatt (1978), who explained reading as a transactional process that occurs between the text and the reader. The Transactional Reading Journal building on this concept (via Jude Ellis) and provides a flexible framework for engaging students in a process of active and personally meaningful interaction with a text.

Writer’s Craft Seminar (B/D/A)

This reading strategy teaches students how to analyze text through close reading in order to formulate an interpretive thesis that is support through assertions and textual evidence. Students present their interpretations to the class through a seminar format.

(From Tulsa Reads Millions – Tulsa Public Schools)