Chapter 7

Comprehension/thinking strategies:

  • Calling up and connecting relevant prior knowledge
  • Predicting, questioning, and wondering about what will be learned and what will happen.
  • Visualizing or imagining what the experience would look, feel, sound, taste, and smell like.
  • Monitoring comprehension and using fix-up strategies such as re-reading, pictures, and asking for help when you cannot make sense of what you read.
  • Determining the most important ideas and events and summarizing what you have read,
  • Drawing conclusions and making inferences based on what was read
  • Evaluating and making judgments about what you think: Did you like it? Did you agree? Was is funny? Could it really happen?

Text structures:

  • How the information within a written text is organized. This strategy helps students understand that a text might present a main idea and details; a cause and then its effects; and/or different views of a topic


  • A genre is a book category defined by style, content, and form
  • Understanding genre will help you know what to expect from a text based on its genre; it will also help you notice when an author is playing with your expectations


  • A way of modeling the thinking that goes inside your head as you read. Show your students you’re making connections by starting sentences like this: “This reminds me of..” “I remember something like this happened to me when…” ” I read another book where the character…” “This is where the character..” “This is like in our school when…”
  • Demonstrate how your brain predicts, questions and wonders
  • Stop periodically and summarize the most important ideas or events
  • Share the conclusions and inferences you’re making based on the facts you have read
  • demonstrate how you monitor meanings and use fix-up strategies
  • Share images, pictures, and visualizations your brain creates
  • Share your opinions, judgments, and evaluations.

Comprehending narrative texts:

  • Common Core recognizes that comprehending narratives- stories, plays and poetry– is very different from comprehending informational texts and lists different standards for these two very different kinds of texts.

Story maps:

  • Effective devises to guide students’ thinking when they are reading a story.
    • Story Map
  • Main Characters
  •  Setting (time and place)
  • Problems or Goals
  • Event 1
  • Event 2
  • Event 3
  • Etc.
  • Solution
  • Story Theme or moral

Beach ball as a tool:

  • Write questions on the beach ball on each colored segment of the ball:
  • Who are the main characters?
  • What is the setting?
  • What happened in the beginning?
  • What happened in the middle?
  • How did it end?
  • What was your favorite part?
  • Toss the ball around after reading a story and allow the student to answer one of the questions on the ball. You could have the student answer the question that is closest to their right thumb, or a certain color, etc.

Compare/contrast bubbles:

  • Comparing and contrasting is a thinking strategy that we use to make sense of what we read. This graphic organizer is very versatile and can be used to teach students to compare and contrast two things, settings, characters, themes, versions of the same tale, mysteries, poems, and other traits.
  • The Venn diagram used for this looks like this picture below. using each side to describe differences and the middle to share similarities.
  • Venn Diagram - Free Printable Compare and Contrast Worksheet for Kids:

Other strategies in the book

  • Doing the book! Through: doing a play acting out a story, make a scene (just a single scene instead of a full play.)

Strategies that Promote Comprehension

  • Before Reading

    Before reading, the teacher may:

    • Motivate students through activities that may increase their interest (book talks, dramatic readings, or displays of art related to the text), making the text relevant to students in some way.
    • Activate students’ background knowledge important to the content of the text by discussing what students will read and what they already know about its topic and about the text organization.

    Students, with some help from the teacher, may:

    • Establish a purpose for reading.
    • Identify and discuss difficult words, phrases, and concepts in the text.
    • Preview the text (by surveying the title, illustrations, and unusual text structures) to make predictions about its content.
    • Think, talk, and write about the topic of the text.

    During Reading

    During reading, the teacher may:

    • Remind students to use comprehension strategies as they read and to monitor their understanding.
    • Ask questions that keep students on track and focus their attention on main ideas and important points in the text.
    • Focus attention on parts in a text that require students to make inferences.
    • Call on students to summarize key sections or events.
    • Encourage students to return to any predictions they have made before reading to see if they are confirmed by the text.

    Students, with some help from the teacher, may:

    • Determine and summarize important ideas and supportive details.
    • Make connections between and among important ideas in the text.
    • Integrate new ideas with existing background knowledge.
    • Ask themselves questions about the text.
    • Sequence events and ideas in the text.
    • Offer interpretations of and responses to the text.
    • Check understanding by paraphrasing or restating important and/or difficult sentences and paragraphs.
    • Visualize characters, settings, or events in a text.

    After Reading

    After reading, the teacher may:

    • Guide discussion of the reading.
    • Ask students to recall and tell in their own words important parts of the text.
    • Offer students opportunities to respond to the reading in various ways, including through writing, dramatic play, music, readers’ theatre, videos, debate, or pantomime.

    Students, with some help from the teacher, may:

    • Evaluate and discuss the ideas encountered in the text.
    • Apply and extend these ideas to other texts and real life situations.
    • Summarize what was read by retelling the main ideas.
    • Discuss ideas for further reading.

      Activities and procedures for use with narrative texts

    • Story maps
    • Retelling
    • Story Frames
    • Directed Reading and Thinking Activity (DRTA)2

Activities and procedures for use with expository text

  • K-W-L3
  • Questioning the author
  • Reciprocal Teaching
  • Transitional Instruction Strategy
  • The I chart procedure

Make Reading Count

  • What are some good ways the teacher can access a child’s level of comprehension?

    A very simple way, by asking the child to tell them, to tell her or him, “What was that all about?” And when you get to a part that the teacher’s not sure whether the child understood it or not, by saying, “Can you tell me more about when Charlie had a headache?” And so, what you do is ask the child to tell you what they understood from the text, and you can certainly learn a great deal about whether they are comprehending it or not. It’s my favorite way. Just ask them. don’t make it complicated.

  • Well, beyond encouraging, how do you teach children to make these connections?

    Well, I think I wouldn’t underestimate encouraging. I would say it by saying you need to encourage them by asking them to do it time, and time, and time again. And I think what’s particularly important is that kids and the teacher work through texts with the kids. They read a part of it, and then they talk about it. And what they talk about ought to be aspects of the text that connected up, so that they bring it together. “So how does that connect with what we read before?” “Does that connect with something we read in the earlier chapter?” I mean, that’s an important idea too, especially when you’re in to content area books. So, you just keep asking them to do it.

  • Why is vocabulary instruction so important, and what does it have to do with comprehension?

    Well, comprehension is made up of words, and words are the building blocks of language. And so, obviously, kids need to know the meanings of words. And here, I do want to distinguish between teaching kids to read words they already know from oral language, that talk about the code, which of course is critical, and the aspect that I’ve paid attention to – not that I haven’t paid attention to teaching kids the phonics – but the aspect that I paid particular attention to more recently is learning words whose meanings they don’t know from oral language. And this is quite critical, because one does not learn a lot of the more literary words, or the more literate words, from oral language, even among the conversations of college graduates. Oral language is limited in the breadth with which words are used.

Other helpful website

Practical Application

  • Comprehension strategies I’ve seen in a Kindergarten classroom/hope to implement into my classroom:
    • Picture walk and prediction. The teacher holds the book for all students to see, she pages through the book and allows the children to look through the book. After they have looked through the book, she asks children what they think will happen in the book, or what the story is going to be about. Basing their predictions on what they have seen in the pictures. Then read the book. Discuss their predictions and if what they thought was going to happen actually happened. Allow students to discuss what surprised them or what actually happened. This can lead to great discussions.
    • Drawing a picture to share what occurred in the story. After reading a story, give the children a specific time limit (i.e. 15 minutes) to share elements of what happened in the story through a picture. The can label elements in their picture if they desire. Their drawing can be about how they felt while reading, a character in the story, their favorite scene, or something that surprised them (one or more of those). If time allows, go around and ask each student to share their picture with you and why they chose what they did. This will allow them to verbally communicate the parts of the story that stood out to them. This may help the children to create mental images.
    • Teacher asking questions and modeling asking themselves questions as they read. After reading through a story, the teacher could ask comprehension questions that refer to the story (i.e. “What do you think Esther will do now? How do you think Esther’s father will react? What would you do if you were Esther?). The teacher can model asking questions to herself through, when she is reading, pausing and sharing questions that she has throughout the story. She can encourage students to do the same when they are reading. By showing students how to search for meaning, we introduce strategies of understanding that can be reinforced in shared, guided, and independent reading.