Merry Bee on Literacy - Curriculum/Skills:
Reading Strategies

06/21/07 Please visit Merry Bee Literacy at

Curriculum is determined by the knowledge and skills that students need. What knowledge and skills do students need? One approach is that students need the knowledge and skills to apply strategies used by independent readers as they become increasingly proficient. This section outlines these reading strategies used by students:
strategies used to decode unfamiliar words
strategies for comprehension
strategies that increase fluency
strategies for organizing to remember or use

Strategies used to decode unfamiliar words

The first listed of these strategies for decoding is especially important for the emergent reader.
1. Use simultaneous cueing systems & monitor.
1a. Cross-check. Check one cue with another. Ask yourself, "Does this word look right, sound right, and make sense?"
This widely accepted concept has dissenters. The main argument seems to be over assigning a priority order to the cueing systems ie teaching the concept as a three-step process implies the first step is most important. The problem seems to come when the cross-check aspect gets lost. In the article Three-Cueing System < >, Marilyn Jager Adams gives a personal account of her growing concern with the misinterpretation of the three-cueing system. Sebastian Wren carries this further saying, "This potentially pernicious model is analogous to a puzzle in which all of the right pieces are arranged incorrectly." < >
1b. Self-correct. Fix it up.
The cross-check leads to confirmation or self-correcting.

Once past the emergent stage, a student may also isolate any of the following as a strategy.
2. Use phonetic analysis. Use awareness of phonemes to apply phonics generalizations.
3. Use word elements: chunking, affixes & roots (structural analysis).
4. Use contextual clues: pictures; skip, read on, go back and reread.

Although “don’t point” is an admonition to the fluent reader, there are kinesthetic strategies for decoding.
5. use kinesthetic: point to word when necessary, or run finger along under word.

For more on decoding, check the following articles:
1. Reading - Rx for Success is a provocative article by Spalding advocate Linda Schrock Taylor. Anyone can teach child to read, schools aren't. Refers to collecting a first aid kit for reading problems. < >
2. You and your students might both enjoy the poem Independent Strategies. < >

Strategies for comprehension

1. question
-- question to identify a purpose for reading
-- predict/verify: form a tentative hypothesis and read on to see if you are correct. DRTA is a sample instructional technique. The Directed Reading-Thinking Activities instructional technique (Stauffer, 1969) has students read a title or short passage and make predictions about the plot or events in the text. After reading, the students confirm or reject the prediction and repeat the process.
Article at < >
PDF file at < >
-- question to monitor ongoing understanding or confusions
-- question to extend thinking - to wonder
-- question to clarify
-- question as a basis for making inferences

2. make connections
-- to real life experiences. Make personal connections; get into the story emotionally
-- to prior knowledge. The Pre-Reading Plan (PReP: Langer, 1981) is a technique to help teachers assess student prior knowledge.
PDF file at < >.
-- to the big picture; generalization; concept
-- to other texts and themes in other texts

3. visualize

4. maintain a mindset to read for meaning
-- (when you don’t understand something) ignore that part of text and read on.
-- use picture cues
-- reread sentence, paragraph, section
-- adjust way of reading to type of text & purpose for reading
-- use story structure or textbook organizational aids
-- suspend judgment and look ahead for clarification
-- monitor; metacognition (think aloud while reading)

5. infer
-- infer through preview of all types of available clues for the text
-- infer feelings of characters & people
-- infer big ideas, theme (differentiate between plot and theme)
-- infer from visualization
-- infer from questioning

Teachers are invited to join a reading comprehension strategies listserv at the Mosaic Listserv Web Site. < > The site also links to a collection of comprehension tools.

Strategies that increase fluency

1. create interest
-- skimming (Annette Lamb explains skimming and scanning at < >)
-- generate questions for text

2. maintain concentration
3. maintain motivation
4. read the “expression marks”: punctuation, quotes

Strategies for organizing to remember or use

1. determine importance
-- select main idea(s)
-- identify key topics and/vs supporting detail
-- retell, paraphrase, summarize
-- notetaking (has its own set of skills)
-- graphic organizers: cluster, web, map, data grid. The Graphic Organizer < > gives the rationale and examples for graphic organizers, most using Inspiration/Kidspiration.

2. use a study strategy such as SQ3R
-- SQ3R= survey, question, read, recite, review
-- make question from each heading; recite answer to their question & any important information

3. put the whole reading experience together by noting the content, author’s craft, and the reading process

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