Skip to content

Action Research Paper+Reading Comprehension Toolkit

Visit:  What Works Clearinghouse which includes the very LATEST BEST PRACTICES based on research!  Research is important

Must see website:  The site discusses 5 Big Ideas in Beginning Reading, which are Phonemic Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, Fluency with Text, Vocabulary, and Comprehension.  Click on the links within the site for valuable charts and information.

The National Reading Panel states that the best approach to reading instruction must incorporate:

  • Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness
  • Systematic phonics instruction
  • Methods to improve fluency
  • Ways to enhance comprehension

The Panel found that a combination of techniques is effective for teaching children to read:


  • Phonemic awareness—the knowledge that spoken words can be broken apart into smaller segments of sound known as phonemes. Children who are read to at home—especially material that rhymes—often develop the basis of phonemic awareness. Children who are not read to will probably need to be taught that words can be broken apart into smaller sounds.
  • Phonics—the knowledge that letters of the alphabet represent phonemes, and that these sounds are blended together to form written words. Readers who are skilled in phonics can sound out words they haven't seen before, without first having to memorize them.
  • Fluency—the ability to recognize words easily, read with greater speed, accuracy, and expression, and to better understand what is read. Children gain fluency by practicing reading until the process becomes automatic; guided oral repeated reading is one approach to helping children become fluent readers.
  • Guided oral reading—reading out loud while getting guidance and feedback from skilled readers. The combination of practice and feedback promotes reading fluency.
  • Teaching vocabulary words—teaching new words, either as they appear in text, or by introducing new words separately. This type of instruction also aids reading ability.

Reading comprehension strategies—techniques for helping individuals to understand what they read. Such techniques involve having students summarize what they've read, to gain a better understanding of the material.

Read more at:

As teachers (and parents) we should be following the GRADUAL RELEASE OF RESPONSIBILITY MODEL found here: and DIFFERENTIATE instruction:

Harris and Hodges (1995) defined a reading comprehension strategy as “a systematic sequence of steps for understanding text” (p. 39).

  • Pearson, Roehler, Dole, and Duffy (1992) stated that “strategies emphasize conscious plans under the control of the reader” (p. 169).
  • To implement these plans, students must have a good understanding of how strategies work and when to use them.  
  • Explicitly taught lessons are “clear, accurate, and rich in example and demonstration” (p. 87).
  • Students receive many opportunities to practice a comprehension strategy, with teacher guidance and using many texts, until they have a good understanding of how to use and apply the strategy (Block & Parris, 2008; Block & Pressley, 2002; Calfee & Patrick, 1995).
  • Such teaching includes explicit feedback, independent practice, and weekly and monthly reviews (Ellis & Worthington, 1994).
  • Explicit teaching also means teaching comprehension strategies one at a time (Keene & Zimmermann, 1997; NICHD, 2000) to “acquaint students with a strategic process” (Pressley, 2002, p. 19).
  • Pressley (2006) explained that the aim, over time, is to teach “a small repertoire of strategies,” so readers can use them in a “self regulated fashion” (p. 17) to enhance comprehension.
  • The results of such instruction are “substantial improvements in student understanding of text” (Pressley, 2002, p. 12). 

The above in purple taken from:

Dymock, Susan, and Tom Nicholson. "“High 5!” Strategies to Enhance Comprehension of Expository Text." The Reading Teacher 64.3 (2010): 166-78. Web.

Read these 3 Comprehension Intervention articles:

compintervention1    compintervention2    compintervention3


Comprehension ~ Although teachers assess strategy use, many aren't teaching comprehension strategies directly.  Here are some research based ways to teach comprehension.


When a teacher actively uses reciprocal teaching in most readings required of students:

  • Reading levels increase one to two grade levels in three to six months (Oczkus, 2005; Spörer, Brunstein, & Kieschke, 2009).
  • English learners increase vocabulary knowledge and comprehension (García, Jensen, & Scribner, 2009).
  • Students who have disabilities show marked success with this strategy instruction (Alfassi, Weiss, & Lifshitz, 2009; Takala, 2006).
  • Struggling and disenchanted readers engage in reading (Goodman, 2005).
  • Advanced and gifted students increase knowledge level and comprehension (Ash, 2005).
  • An added benefit of making reciprocal teaching fun and hands-on is students’ enjoyment. They no longer dread reading but look forward to learning new information with their peers. They learn how to work collaboratively with classmates. They are engaged and become confident in their reading skills.

Palincsar and Brown (1986) created reciprocal teaching, which uses the four strategies ~ the Fab Four ~ of predicting, clarifying, questioning, and summarizing (to get the main idea) to increase comprehension.

  • With reciprocal teaching, students predict before reading and then check their predictions during reading. They stop to clarify unknown words or ideas during reading. They ask “teacher questions” during and after reading to check for understanding. And they summarize either a page or the entire text selection after reading.
  • Rather than questioning students about a text, a teacher would charge students to create their own questions.
  • Assign students one of the 4 roles!  Make the roles theatrical ~ by dressing up for each role, or create role puppets.  For example ~ Predicting Paul is a parrot who predicts. Clarifying Clarabelle is a cow who likes to chomp on words and ideas. Questioning Queen is a queen bee who loves to question her worker bees. Summarizing Sam is a snake who likes to wrap himself around important information. Whether using characters or puppets, remember that your goal is to not implement the Fab Four yourself, but to teach students how to use the strategies!

Teachers have three primary responsibilities during a reciprocal teaching session:

1. Before reading, activate prior knowledge of words or ideas students will encounter during reading.

2. During reading, monitor, guide, and encourage individuals or groups in their use of the Fab Four.

3. After reading, encourage student reflection and ask students to share which strategy helped them the most and why. This last part is critical to the overall success of reciprocal teaching.

  • Metacognitive thinking is an important tool that gives students insight into their learning styles and allows them to reflect on which tools help them gain the most understanding (Israel, Block, Bauserman, & Kinnucan-Welsch, 2005).
  • When introducing students to reciprocal teaching, it is crucial to make an impact. The goal is to have students remember the Fab Four, so they can use the strategies independently.
  • Use visuals to keep reminding students of the Fab Four as being the purpose for reading every day ~ to own these 4 skills!  Use charts (poster board in 4 sections), bookmarks (students make), paper plate dials (visual and tactile), props, sticky notes (students get 4 each, one for each of the Fab Four), sentence starters:  ■ Predicting—“I wonder…” or “I think that…” ■ Clarifying—“I was confused about…” or “I don’t understand…” ■ Questioning—“How…?” or “Why…?” ■ Summarizing—“The author wants us to know…” or “The big idea is… ■ A 5th post-it can be used for Metacognitive thinking—“What helped me most was…”
  • Reciprocal teaching involves lots of discussion amongst students. The following ideas may encourage students to open up and share their thoughts: ■ Partner sharing—“Turn to your partner and share your prediction.” ■ Response cards—“Hold up your smiley face card if you agree, your frown face card if you disagree.” ■ Face-to-face—Students form two lines and share their summaries with the person facing them (Oczkus, 2005). ■ Passing notes—“Write a note to your friend about a word or idea you do not understand.”

To Assess Comprehension after Using Reciprocal Teaching Numerous Times:  

  • Four Door Chart:  The Four Door Chart (Oczkus, 2005) is useful in determining students’ understanding and use of the Fab Four. To make the Four Door, have students 1. Fold both sides of a piece of construction paper toward the middle so they have a double door. 2. Cut a line across the middle of both doors to create four doors. 3. Label the doors using the Fab Four names. 4. Open the doors and record their work (predictions they have made, words they have clarified, questions they have asked and answered, and summaries they have written). 
  • Summarizing, or sequencing strips are useful in determining whether students are able to state the main idea and supporting details in the correct sequence. Organize students into groups. Assign each group member a different page or section of the text to summarize on a strip of paper. The group mixes up the completed summaries, reads them, puts them in chronological order, and glues them to a piece of construction paper to illustrate the correct sequence.
  • A “Clear” Summary (Oczkus, 2005) is useful in determining whether students are able to write a clear and concise summary. Organize the students into groups and give each group a transparency so each may summarize their reading in 25 words or less.
  • Question Booklets (Oczkus, 2005) are useful for determining the level of cognition occurring in students based on the types of questions (e.g., factual, inferential, critical, creative) they choose to write. Students write a question for each page they read as they preview the text. As students read, they answer their questions. Students also may trade booklets with their peers and answer someone else’s questions.
  • 1, 2, 3, 4 is similar to the Four Door Chart in that it is useful in determining students’ understanding and use of the Fab Four. To make 1, 2, 3, 4, give students two sheets of construction paper. Students fold the paper in layers and staple it so that four sections are visible. Ask students to write one prediction on the first fold, two words or ideas they don’t understand (and possible meanings) on the second, three questions and answers on the third, and a four-sentence summary on the last.


1. Decide how you will model the Fab Four strategies to your students (i.e., using dress up, puppets, and so on). Determine what manipulatives your students will use when it is their turn.

2. Gather props and materials for the modeling session and student practice session.

3. Explain to students why you are modeling the Fab Four, and activate prior knowledge about the topic to be studied.

4. After modeling, break students into groups of four and assign each a Fab Four job.

5. Monitor and guide students as they try out the Fab Four, changing jobs after each page.

6. After the reading is completed, bring the class together to discuss which of the Fab Four helped them most and why.

7. Reflect on the experience and consider what instructional improvements you can make. Decide how you will implement your next hands-on reciprocal teaching session.

All Reciprocal Teaching information from:

Stricklin, Kelley. "Hands-On Reciprocal Teaching: A Comprehension Technique." The Reading Teacher 64.8 (2011): 620-25. Web.

The following 6 strategies can be started in KINDERGARTEN!  Read more about these strategies here:

ACTIVATING PRIOR KNOWLEDGE ~ Even as young as kindergarten, before you read, activate what they already know.  Making connections, visualizing, asking questions, and inferring will naturally flow from there.  

Providing a supportive book introduction ~ 
• Contagious excitement – Psych students up for each new book, introducing it in ways that connect with their interests and make them feel it will be fun to read on their own.
• Covering all the bases – “We must make students familiar with the story, the plot, unfamiliar phrases, unusual names, new words, and old words used in an unusual way,” say Lipp and Helfrich. “Reading Recovery teachers often ask questions that allow students to think beyond the text, making predictions, and creating suspense by not revealing up front the ending of the text.”  

“Key Reading Recovery Strategies to Support Classroom Guided Reading Instruction” by Jamie Lipp and Sara Helfrich in The Reading Teacher, May/June 2016 (Vol. 69, #6, p. 639-646).

Always define the strategy, provide a visual representation of its meaning, and ask students to use the strategy within the context of the story, through the use of anchor charts and hand signals. 

MAKING CONNECTIONS ~  “Velcro Theory.” Teach that when we get a new piece of information, it’s easier to remember it if we can stick it onto something that’s already in our heads; making this connection helps us to understand what we are reading.  As you read aloud, have children make connections by raising their hands in the shape of the letter C to indicate that they had a connection to share. Categorize these connections by using the think-aloud strategy.  Model text-to-self, text-to-text, or text-to-world connections. Through this categorization, students better understand ways in which to connect and make meaning with texts.

VISUALIZING ~ Visualization encourages students to make movies in their minds. Students should close their eyes when a story is being read aloud, and raise hands with V fingers to share their mind movie.  Have them draw their mind movies, and later compare those to the books' illustrations!  Use poetry as poetry is shorter. Opportunities should be provided to discuss what was included in the pictures created by the students that helped them to understand and represent their understandings. Visualizing is an important strategy for students as they move from picture books to chapter books, and is especially important in today’s world where everyone is constantly bombarded with sophisticated graphics and little language (Keene & Zimmermann, 1997).

QUESTIONING ~ The questioning strategy involves children constantly asking questions of the text. To do this, children must be involved in creating and revising meaning based on the information provided by the text. An anchor chart with “Expert readers ask questions before, during, and after they read” should be provided.   Read aloud, and have children wiggle fingers when they have wonderings about the story.  Record questions on a chart.

INFERRING ~ This strategy uses all of the strategies.  Inference is created at the intersection of our schema, the author’s words on the page, and our mind’s ability to merge that information into a unique combination (Keene & Zimmermann, 1997).  Start by creating anchor charts at the beginning of the story with questions. After the story is read, discuss the questions and answer whether the question was explicitly answered in the text or if they needed to use their brains. Whenever we need to use our brains, we are making an inference. Presenting the inference process in this manner allows the children to work with the text concretely and make the inference process more tangible. Additionally, asking questions increases children’s ability and inclination to make inferences (Hansen, 1981). 

The above in red is taken from:  

Gregory, Anne E., and Mary Ann Cahill. "Kindergartners Can Do It, Too! Comprehension Strategies for Early Readers." The Reading Teacher 63.6 (2010): 515-20. Web.

Prompting as students read the book individually  ~ New books introduced in guided reading should be at the edge of students’ instructional level, not too hard but not easy.

        • Minimal teacher talk – “Reading Recovery teachers are trained to know how to say enough without saying too much,” say Lipp and Helfrich. “Too much teacher talk can impede learning.” Brief, gentle interventions might include: Do this. What did you notice? Why did you stop? Think about what you know that might help.
        • The right prompts – “We must remain flexible with our prompting to ensure we are creating readers who skillfully integrate meaning, structure, and visual information to interpret texts,” say Lipp and Helfrich.
Observing and analyzing carefully:
        • Listening closely – “To prevent reading failure teachers must take time to observe what children are able to do,” said Marie Clay, the creator of Reading Recovery. This includes listening, chatting with children about a story, and using running records.
        • How does the reading sound? Are students putting words and phrases together so the reading flows? Are they spending too much time on word solving? When they slow down to figure out a difficult word, do they speed right up again?
        • Using strengths – “Building off readers’ strengths is a foundation piece of the Reading Recovery lesson,” say Lipp and Helfrich. Watch for things they are doing better and use those to support further learning.
        • Noting struggles – Are they making haphazard attempts at high-frequency words? Do they need more practice?
        • Interpreting a “told” word – When a student is stuck and the teacher has to tell a word, what caused the problem? Those words or patterns may need to be practiced.
        • Who is doing the work? “The hardest shift for teachers to make is to think about teaching as assisting the student’s problem solving,” said Lyons, Pinnell, and DeFord. “Reading Recovery teachers are taught to balance strategic teaching with high expectations of accountability for students,” say Lipp and Helfrich. “Reading, to most students, can appear like a puzzle in need of careful solving. Helping students to understand and gain control of the skills and strategies to do their own puzzle solving will decrease their dependence on you as the teacher for constant support… Make sure that you are not jumping in right away to rescue students each time they pause or falter.” When students are right, ask them, Were you right? When they’re wrong, ask, how do you know?

“Key Reading Recovery Strategies to Support Classroom Guided Reading Instruction” by Jamie Lipp and Sara Helfrich in The Reading Teacher, May/June 2016 (Vol. 69, #6, p. 639-646).


HIGH FIVE to enhance comprehension of expository text

Dymoch & Nicholson suggest only teaching 5 strategies.  They are:  (1) activating background knowledge (Brown, 2002; Calfee & Patrick, 1995; Pressley, 2002), (2) questioning (Block & Pressley, 2007; NICHD, 2000), (3) analyzing text structure (Block & Pressley, 2002; Calfee & Patrick, 1995; Dymock & Nicholson, 2007), (4) creating mental images (Pearson & Duke, 2002; Pressley 2002, 2006), and (5) summarizing (NICHD, 2000; Pressley & Block, 2002).

1.ACTIVATING BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE ~ Activating relevant background knowledge helps readers make connections between what they know and what they are reading.   If they don't have the knowledge, provide it or have them research it.

2. QUESTIONING ~ Encouraging the reader to generate and answer questions before and during reading aids comprehension (Block & Parris, 2008; Block & Pressley, 2007; Dymock & Nicholson, 1999; NICHD, 2000). There are three types of questions the student can ask: right there, think and search, and beyond the text (Dymock & Nicholson, 1999; Raphael, 1982). A right there question about the text is factual, such as, What are the facts here? An example of a think and search question is, What does the writer want me to figure out based on the facts? A sample beyond the text question is, What is not being said here that I should check by doing some background research? Prior to reading, good readers also ask themselves questions that activate background knowledge. Good readers consider the text structure as well.  If the text is sequential, ask what will happen next?  If it is descriptive, what are the subtopics?

3.ANALYZING TEXT STRUCTURE ~ Meyer and Rice (1984) explained text structure as “how the ideas in a text are interrelated to convey a message to a reader” (p. 319). It involves the reader looking mentally for the text structure—looking at keywords, subheadings, and other text features that can reveal the structure the writer is using. Signal or cue words used by nonfiction writers send a signal to the reader as to the text structure the writer has followed. Inside the text, subheadings, labels, captions, tables, graphs, charts, maps, timelines, and figures assist readers in navigating expository text. Outside the text, indexes, tables of contents, and glossaries help identify the structure of expository text (Duke & Bennett-Armistead, 2003). Exposition has many types of structures, and some are complex. The use of design sketches to capture the structure helps hugely in terms of comprehension (Calfee & Patrick, 1995; Dymock, 2009; Dymock & Nicholson, 2007). Capturing the design of the text in the mind as soon as possible is part of text structure awareness. Teachers need to teach each type of expository text structure (e.g., cause–effect, description, problem–solution), so students can internalize all of the structures. Almost all of the expository texts that students read can be separated into two groups: texts that describe and texts that are affected by time (Calfee & Patrick, 1995). Elementary students encounter three descriptive and three sequential structures. 

Descriptive structures focus on the attributes of something, that is, the qualities that distinguish it from other things. For example, the writer may present the attributes of New York, glass, or rattlesnakes. The three descriptive patterns that readers encounter most frequently are list, web, and matrix (see Dymock and Nicholson [2007] for an in-depth discussion on these structures).

  • List. The simplest descriptive pattern is a list. This may be a grocery list, a list of countries that grow wheat, a list of goods and services sold by street merchants in India, or in science, the attributes of a kangaroo. 
  • Web. A web is a more complex structure than a list. This text structure is called a web because it looks like a spiderweb (Calfee & Patrick, 1995). A spiderweb has a center and a number of fine threads that form a network of lines. In a web, the attributes of an object are discussed. The attributes have a common link.  The important thing for the student to remember is that, like a list, a web describes one thing or idea, but the difference is that a web has categories.
  • Matrix. A matrix is more complex than either a list or a web. The difference between a matrix and a web or list is that a web or list describes just one thing, and a matrix describes more than one thing. It compares and contrasts two or more topics. For example, it could compare types of bears, volcanoes, bicycles, or crocodiles

Sequential structures present a series of events or steps that progress over time. 

  • String. A string is where a step-by-step description of events is given (e.g., sequence for baking cookies).
  • Cause–Effect. In the cause–effect text structure, two (or more) ideas or events interact with one another. One is the cause, and the other is an effect or result. For example, a text may cover the causes and effects of environmental disasters, such as an oil spill in the ocean. This pattern is common in history, science, and health publications.
  • Problem–Solution. In the problem–solution text structure, the writer states a problem or poses a question followed by a solution or answer in the text. There is a sequence in this kind of text: first the problems and then the solutions. 

4.VISUALIZING ~ Visualizing while reading helps so students can later make a diagram of it. Diagrams help students make the structure concrete. Students use different diagrams for different text structures. As students progress in reading, some skilled readers may continue to diagram the text, while others may visualize the structure in their minds. 

5.SUMMARIZING ~ A summary is concise and gives only the main points. Research shows that the ability to summarize a text can enhance comprehension. Block and Pressley (2003) defined summarize as “the ability to delete irrelevant details, combine similar ideas, condense main ideas, and connect major themes into concise statements that capture the purpose of a reading for the reader” (p. 117). Students can easily produce a summary if they use High 5! Strategy 3 ~ Analyzing Text Structure. First, read the text. Second, identify the text structure the writer has used. Third, make a diagram of the structure. Fourth, discard redundant information so that only the key ideas remain. Fifth, circle only the critical ideas that you need for the summary. Diagrams help readers summarize the main idea(s) orally, visually, or in writing (Dymock & Nicholson, 2010).

The above in purple taken from:

Dymock, Susan, and Tom Nicholson. "“High 5!” Strategies to Enhance Comprehension of Expository Text." The Reading Teacher 64.3 (2010): 166-78. Web.

Check out PALS ~ Peer Assisted Learning Strategies ~ as another peer tutoring intervention.  It can be purchased.  

Teachers determine which students need help on specific skills and which students can help teach those skills. Teachers then pair students in the class, so that partners work simultaneously and productively on different activities that address the problems they are experiencing.  Every student is on task.  Pairs are changed frequently and all students have the opportunity to be coaches and readers over time as students work on a variety of skills.  By creating pairs, individual needs are being met, instead of a single, teacher-directed lesson that may end up addressing the issues of only a few students. PALS is differentiating at its best! PALS also creates opportunities for teachers to circulate in the class, observe students, and provide individual remediation lessons. PALS is designed to be used in addition to the existing reading and math curriculum, 25 to 35 minutes, 2 to 4 times a week.  (Vanderbilt Kennedy Center).

Kindergarten PALS

  • 3-4x/week
  • 30 minute sessions
  • children practice letter-sound correspondence, decoding, phonological awareness, and sight words

1st Grade PALS

  • 3-4x/week
  • 35 minute sessions
  • emphasizes decoding and reading fluency, as well as retelling, summarizing, predicting, inferencing

2-6 Grade PALS 

  • 3x/week
  • 35 minute sessions
  • emphasizes decoding and reading fluency, as well as retelling, summarizing, predicting, inferencing

High School PALS is similar to grade 2-6 PALS but with more age-appropriate motivational and helping strategies.  It is done 5x every 2 weeks.

Students must be trained in the PALS procedures; these training lessons are in the teacher's manuals. The lessons are scripted with wording that has been found to be successful in communicating what students must learn. An outline of the material covered in each lesson is also presented.   (Vanderbilt Kennedy Center).

Try this book:  Comprehension Intervention Small-Group Lessons for The Primary Comprehension Toolkit .


Read Naturally might be resource to consider. 

Sound Partnerscould be purchased.

Great Leaps could be purchased.

3 Fluency Intervention articles:

fluencyelementary      fluencymiddle        fluencyhighschool

Small-group interventions are practical and often more time efficient than individualized interventions aimed to address fluency. Over the past two decades, a substantial amount of research has been conducted in the area of reading. As a result, many reading researchers agree that the essential components of early elementary reading instruction should target phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary (Armbuster et al. 2001; National Reading Panel (NRP) 2000). Yet, in spite of the advances in knowledge about effective reading instruction, a large number of US students still experience great difficulties learning to read (Lee et al. 2007). In the area of reading fluency (commonly defined as a student’s ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression), a recent nationally representative study of 1,779 fourth-grade students suggests that 40% of US students are ‘‘nonfluent’’ readers (Daane et al. 2005). Other important findings from this study revealed a strong correlation between reading fluency and comprehension, as well as a strong correlation between reading fluency and students’ overall reading ability. Collectively, findings from Daane et al. reiterate the importance of reading fluency that was previously highlighted by other reading researchers (e.g., Fuchs et al. 2001) and suggest that almost half of US students would probably benefit from interventions aimed to improve their reading fluency. 

Focusing on fluency ~ Sara Helfrich (Ohio University/Athens) and Jamie Lipp (a former Reading Recovery teacher and currently a curriculum specialist and doctoral candidate) suggest several practices used in one-on-one Reading Recovery lessons that can be effective in guided reading sessions in the regular classroom.  Reading Recovery is the ONLY proven program that works!
• Familiar reading – Have students warm up by whisper-reading a book at their independent or instructional level that they’ve read at least once, and monitor them for fluency.
• Anchor text – Each student should have a very familiar book that he or she can read fluently, and use it to practice reading smoothly and with expression.
• Modeling fluent reading – When students are reading in a choppy, staccato fashion, the teacher should read with them, showing what fluent reading sounds like. Prompts include: Are you listening to yourself? Put them all together so that it sounds like talking. Reread. Did it sound smooth?
• Weaning from finger pointing – “Emergent readers often use finger pointing long after it is needed,” say Lipp and Helfrich. “Once early behaviors such as one-to-one matching, return sweep, and locating known words are firmly established, it is important to ask students to read with their eyes only.” Pointing should be used only when necessary.

“Key Reading Recovery Strategies to Support Classroom Guided Reading Instruction” by Jamie Lipp and Sara Helfrich in The Reading Teacher, May/June 2016 (Vol. 69, #6, p. 639-646).

Repeated Reading*  ~ Found to be the most effective! Repeated reading involves having a student reread a short passage 2 or more times, sometimes reading the passage until a suitable reading fluency level (i.e., criterion) is met (Therrien 2004). Recent meta-analyses (Chard et al. 2002; NRP 2000; Therrien 2004) have illustrated the positive outcomes of using RR procedures. For example, Chard et al. (2002) examined the effects of 24 studies that addressed components of reading interventions and found that RR was associated with significant improvements in reading fluency and comprehension for students with learning disabilities. More recently, Therrien (2004) confirmed the effectiveness of RR procedures for improving various types of reading abilities and, in addition, found that these effects are enhanced when the strategy is implemented with adults rather than peers.

Listening Passage Preview ~ Passage previewing—occasionally referred to as modeling—is another intervention commonly used to increase students’ reading fluency. The research literature highlights three basic types of PP interventions: (a) silent PP, where the student reads the passage silently prior to instruction and/or testing; (b) oral PP, where the student reads the passage aloud prior to instruction and/or testing; and (c) listening PP (LPP), where the student listens to a more skilled reader read the passage (e.g., a teacher, parent, more skilled peer, an audiotape) while following along silently. The efficacy of PP procedures on students’ reading fluency has also been well documented, with LPP generally receiving the most support over other types of PP interventions (Daly and Martens 1994; Skinner et al. 1997). 

The above came from:

Begeny, John C., Hailey E. Krouse, Sarah G. Ross, and R. Courtney Mitchell. "Increasing Elementary-aged Students’ Reading Fluency with Small-group Interventions: A Comparison of Repeated Reading, Listening Passage Preview, and Listening Only Strategies." Journal of Behavioral Education J Behav Educ 18.3 (2009): 211-28. Web.

Failure Free Online might be considered for vocabulary.

PAVE Procedure ~ try it!

3 Vocabulary articles:

vocabELL     vocabintervention     vocab

ELL VOCABULARY:  As Kinsella (2005) tells us, many English learners (ELs) lack sufficient academic language in both their home language and English to be successful with complex academic tasks. Beck, McKeown, and Kucan (2008) have taught us to think about the words that we select for rich instruction and how we can explain their meanings in powerful ways. Furthermore, English-language development (ELD) lessons must be based on structured language practice that matches students’ English-language proficiency levels (Sonoma County Office of Education, 2006).Backward planning (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) is the first step in successfully infusing ELD instruction into core curricula. Analyze the lesson, including questions and tasks in sidebars and assessments, to determine the concepts that students are expected to learn based on state standards, as well as the necessary comprehension strategies. Our students won’t learn academic vocabulary solely by listening to us; they need to practice using it themselves (Kinsella, 2005). Structured language practice provides opportunities for students to orally practice using academic language to express language functions (see Sonoma County Office of Education, 2006, for more details).

Sentence Frames:  Think about what is the language function that students need to use to think, talk, and write about the core concept? Description, cause/ effect, persuasion, inference, and making judgments are all necessary to comprehend information.To develop sentence frames, first write sentences that express the target language function (e.g., compare/contrast), then replace target vocabulary with blanks, and finally, create a word bank or a list of the words that were eliminated from the original sentences. The resulting materials are sets of sentence frames with fill-in spaces that are appropriate for different language levels and a word bank. Lower level frames are less complex than higher level frames.  To develop sentence frames, group students of similar language levels together in pairs, present frames that match their language levels on sentence strips, and provide a word bank of the target vocabulary words. Support students in learning how to select vocabulary, insert it into the frame, and read the frames aloud. Teach students the following routine: Listen to me say the sentence; now you say it with me; now say it to me; finally, say it to your partner. After guiding students through the process several times, have them practice with each other. Note the primary purpose of the activity is to provide oral practice; however, it is also suitable for written practice.

ELLs are expected to use simple sentences to express the target language function of compare/contrast (e.g., two separate sentences: Oranges are sweet. Lemons are sour.). Level 3 language learners are expected to use more complex sentence structures (e.g., Oranges and lemons are both fruit, but oranges are sweet, and lemons are sour.). Finally, level 4 language learners are expected to use the most complex structures (e.g., The main difference between oranges and lemons are oranges are sweet while lemons are sour). Note that students of all three language levels are expressing the compare/contrast function; the difference is the level of complexity. As students progress in their language learning, they should work with more complex language structures.

For more on teaching ELLs please visit my RETELL page.

ELL information above taken from:

Donnelly, Whitney Bray, and Christopher J. Roe. "Using Sentence Frames to Develop Academic Vocabulary for English Learners." The Reading Teacher 64.2 (2010): 131-36. Web.

2 Decoding Intervention articles:

decoding first grade      smallgroupdecoding

Consider SpellRead.  It is approved by the What Works Clearinghouse Read the article!

Onset-Rime Instruction:  First, see my page:  Rimes.  According to Adams (1990), it is relatively easy to break the onset away from the rime, but difficult to break either the onset or the rime into its phonemic components. Difficulty in segmenting phonemes may be because separate sounds merge in words and are not easily identified as individual sounds when listening to speech (Juel & Minden-Cupp, 2000). According to Anthony, Lonigan, Driscoll, Phillips, and Burgess (2003), children have a natural ability to hear onsets and rimes. Treiman, Mullinnex, Bijeljac-Babic, and Richmond-Welty (1995) carried out a statistical analysis of the links between spellings and sounds in CVC (consonant/vowel/consonant) words in English and found that rime units had more stable pronunciations than individual vowel graphemes or initial consonant plus vowel units. Stanbach (1992) analyzed the rime patterns of the 17,602 words in the Carroll, Davies, and Richman (1971) word frequency norms for children and found that all of the 17,602 words can be classified into 824 rimes, of which 616 occur in common rime families. This data supports the consistency of the rime unit in typical reading materials children encounter. The consistency of the rime in relation to the vowel suggests another argument because onset-rime instruction avoids short vowel confusion. One of the most difficult areas of phonics instruction is short vowel mastery. According to Goswami (1993), vowel misreading is twice as prevalent as consonant misreading for beginning readers. Adams (1990) stated that phonic generalizations about the pronunciation of individual vowels and vowel digraphs are “frustratingly unreliable” (p. 320); however, vowel sounds are usually quite stable within rime patterns. Instruction with onsets and rimes also requires less facility with blending, another stumbling block for children. Rather than having to identify and then blend the phonemes r-a-t together to make rat, the child only needs to substitute the r in rat for the c in cat. O’Shaughnessy and Swanson (2000) suggested that children respond better to remedial strategies that use larger phonological units (i.e., rimes) that reduce the memory demands of blending sounds together to form words. Finally, onset-rime instruction as a beginning reading program is in accord with the developmental model of phonological sensitivity proposed by Adams (1990), as well as Goswami (1993), a model supported by the research of Stahl and Murray (1994) and Anthony, Lonigan, Driscoll, Philips, and Bergess (2003). According to this developmental model, children’s phonemic awareness progresses from larger to smaller linguistic units (i.e., from words to syllables, to onsets and rimes, to individual phonemes). Anthony et al. (2003) suggested that this developmental model of phonological sensitivity be used to design instruction.

The above Onset-Rime intervention came from:

Hines, Sara J. "The Effectiveness of a Color-Coded, Onset-Rime Decoding Intervention with First-Grade Students at Serious Risk for Reading Disabilities." Learning Disabilities Research & Practice 24.1 (2009): 21-32. Web.

Here are some intervention resources.  This list is from UNE EDU 744 course.  The numbers in (  ) represent grades:

Read 180 (3-12)

Read Naturally (K-6)

Accelerated Reader (Pre-K-12)

Leveled Literacy Intervention Kits by Fountas and Pinnell (K-2)

Fountas and Pinnell Phonics (K-2)

Fountas and Pinnell Word Study (3)

Reading Plus (2-college)

Discover Intensive Phonics (K-3)

Action 100 (K-8)

System 44 (3-12)

Expert 21 (6-9)

Success Maker (K-8)

Reading Apprenticeship (middle school-college)

Early Intervention in Reading (K-4)

Stepping Stones to Literacy  (Pre-K-K)

Earobics (Pre-K-3)

Ladders to Literacy (Pre-K-K)

DaisyQuest (ages 3-7)

Waterford Early Reading Program (K-2)

Kaplan Spell Read (2-up)

Lindamood Phonemic Sequencing (K-up)

Wilson Reading System (2-up)

Success for All (Pre-K-8)

Lexia Reading (K-3)

Voyager Universal Literacy System (K-3)

Corrective Reading (3-up)

Read, Write, & Type (ages 6-9)

Failure Free Reading (K-12)

Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (2-8)

Fluency Formula (1-6)

Intervention Websites
If you visit the What Works Clearinghouse there is an interactive tool which allows you to choose your grade level (range) and literacy topic (ex. reading comprehension) and many of these programs will appear in chart form.  You can then click on the name of the intervention program in order to read the related research.  To get more information on the programs, try entering the program name into a search engine to find the publisher's website (UNE EDU 744, Summer 2016). 



Some other Helpful Websites: This website lists many academic interventions that are research-based interventions.  They are not purchased programs.  They are simply academic interventions that have research to support them. This site also lists research-based approaches to instruction.  Click on "Reading" then on the appropriate grade level tab (UNE EDU 744, Summer 2016).




Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed., CAGS. "Best Research Based Ways to Target Comprehension, Decoding, Vocabulary, Fluency." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 14 May 2016. Web. <>.





Graphics are from Google Images.  Right click on them.

I am happy to share my pages, but please cite me as you would expect your students to cite their sources.  Copyscape alerts me to duplicate content.  Please respect my work.


More Information...

What’s New in the Second Edition?

The new 2016 edition of the series includes everything from the original edition plus a new teacher’s guide, new online resources, and a new book, Content Literacy: Lessons and Texts for Comprehension Across the Curriculum; many new lessons integrate the strategies with science and social studies curriculum.

Strategy and Lesson Books:

The updated strategy books contain the same content and lessons from the original edition with an improved design and organization to make the teaching of comprehension more accessible and easier to integrate across the curriculum.

In addition to the original six strategy lesson books, there is a new book —Content Literacy: Lessons and Texts for Comprehension Across the Curriculum —with many new lessons that integrate several strategies with content-area learning.

The NEW lesson book will be available for purchase for customers looking to fill in existing “original” Toolkits

Information Texts:

All of the wonderful, rich nonfiction texts from the original edition are still part of the revised Toolkit —with the addition of more lessons, more short texts, and more trade books .

In addition to the original texts, the new Content Literacy lesson book also contains new short texts.

There is a new trade book pack to support the new Content Literacy lessons.

A Digital Companion Resource provides all of the text and teaching resources in a full color digital format.

The new lessons and trade book packs are available for purchase for existing Toolkit customers.

Professional Support:

The updated teaching guide, Tools for Teaching Comprehension, integrates how the authors’ thinking has evolved —including discussions around new research, new perspectives on disciplinary vs. content area literacy, and views on complex text, as well as close reading.

In lieu of DVDs, the updated Toolkits provide links to online resources and video examples to provide models for ways educators can teach the strategies. The update includes the original resources as well a few new additions.

Existing users of the original Comprehension Toolkit series:

You may purchase the new Content Literacy lesson books as well as the corresponding new trade book packs to fill in your existing resources.

Video Walkthrough of the Short Nonfiction for American History Series

Companion Resources and Additional Lesson Texts

Toolkit Texts (Grades 3-6)
Chapters from the Teacher's Guide

In addition to the professional support built into each unit book, the Teacher's Guide in each Toolkit offers select chapters on specific pressing concerns.

Related Articles

CCSS and Standards Correlations

Guiding Principles

Traditionally in schools as kids read to learn, they were asked to remember a litany of isolated facts. And lots of kids did this pretty well-remembering the information just long enough to take the test. We finally understand why we remember so little from all those years of schooling, but still got decent grades. We memorized countless facts and quickly forgot them. What is the point of learning and forgetting, learning and forgetting, over and over again? Perkins says that "learning is a consequence of thinking. Far from thinking coming after knowledge, knowledge comes on the coattails of thinking." It's so obvious; when we think about and actively use what we are learning, we remember it. When we memorize isolated facts, we forget them.

We use the following principles to guide us as we build a classroom community of thinkers and learners. Teachers and kids take responsibility for and collaborate to build a thinking environment. A shared sense of purpose guides learning-- all members of the classroom community view themselves as thinkers, learners and teachers.

The following are the principles that guided us as we developed The Comprehension Toolkit

Creating an environment that fosters and values thinking

When we honor kids' thinking, they learn that their thinking matters. Students and teachers feel free to take risks as learners when they know their thoughts, ideas and opinions will be treated respectfully by others. The room arrangement mirrors the focus on learning and thinking with meeting spaces for small groups, a comfortable spot where the large group can gather, and desks or tables in clusters to promote conversation and collaborative work.

Nurturing thoughtful, curious readers and thinkers

Passion and wonder are central to life in a thinking classroom. Students enter our classrooms brimming with curiosity about the world and are encouraged to view learning as a way to better understand it. Engagement soars when kids listen to, respond to, and challenge each others' thinking.

Real world reading

Much of what adult readers read is short nonfiction: newspapers, magazine articles, memos, directions, essays, editorials etc. Often in school, students engage in focused content reading and have little opportunity for real world reading. Both are essential. When kids "read widely and wildly" as Shelley Harwayne says, they are far more likely to find content that intrigues them and propels them to investigate further. This also helps build background around all sorts of topics so kids have a reservoir of knowledge from which to draw.

Teaching strategic reading within a gradual release framework

Strategies that proficient readers use include monitoring comprehension, activating background knowledge, and connecting to personal experience, asking questions, inferring meaning, determining importance, summarizing and synthesizing. We teach these strategies through the gradual release of responsibility framework. We provide explicit instruction through modeling and guided practice, and then provide opportunities for independent practice and application. Students learn to use these strategies flexibly, across a variety of texts, topics, and subject areas.

Monitoring comprehension and leaving tracks of thinking

When readers read, it is not enough to simply record the facts, they must merge their thinking with the information to learn, understand, and remember. They pay attention to the inner conversation they have with text, leaving written tracks of their thinking to monitor their understanding.

Creating a common language for talking about thinking

Comprehension strategies offer a common language for understanding and discussing what we read, what we write, and what we think. Without a common language, it is nearly impossible to talk about anything substantive.

Meeting individual needs and differentiating instruction

One size does not fit all. We consider how our instruction, materials and assessments can be adapted to students with varying reading proficiencies, learning styles and language backgrounds. Instruction occurs in a variety of groupings-- large groups, small groups, pairs, and with individuals.

Teachers as thinkers and learners

Teachers can set the standard by being thoughtful readers and learners themselves. When teachers model their own thinking and support students to think when they read, everyone in the classroom has the opportunity to experience learning as understanding.

Co-constructing meaning

Teaching and learning involves a process of co-constructing meaning. Both students and teacher weigh in with their thinking. We co-construct meaning in large groups by turning to each other and talking, in small groups, in conferences, and through discussions.

Making thinking visible to hold, remember and share it

One of the best ways to promote thinking is to provide opportunities for kids to share their thoughts. To make thinking visible, we gather, record, chart, and talk about our thinking.

Fostering a "strategic spirit" to engage kids in learning

David Perkins suggests that it's not enough to be able to think strategically; we have to want to do it. Tasks that require students to actively use, evaluate, and synthesize information are much more likely to engage kids. When kids are compelled by what they are learning, they are more likely to be motivated to think, question, and investigate.

Constructing learning around texts kids can sink their teeth into

Allington and Johnston suggest that "one of the best ways to increase student thinking is to make sure you have a curriculum that provides students with things worth thinking about." We need to provide text and materials that encourage kids to expand their thinking.

Collaborative reading, writing, and discussion leading to purposeful talk

Throughout the day, students have opportunities to respond to reading in a variety of ways including talking, listening, writing, and researching. Responding in both small and large groups provides a chance to learn from each other and hear each other's perspectives, opinions, thoughts, and concerns. When students engage in purposeful conversations, they articulate their learning and have opportunities to change their thinking based on what they hear.

Ongoing performance-based assessment

Every time we teach a lesson, we are assessing kids' thinking, reflecting on our teaching, and planning for subsequent instruction. Conferring with students is the best way we know to assess learning needs. We read and listen to students' many responses--Post-its, forms, journals, conversations, etc. We assess 24/7 and we evaluate (give grades) after students have had time to practice.

Instructional Practices

Instruction in the Toolkit series is based on the following instructional practices.

Modeling thinking

We model how we read ourselves; to share our struggles as well as our victories. We peel back the layers and show how we approach text and in that way demonstrate for kids how understanding happens.

Coding the text

We leave tracks of our thinking directly on the text or on a Post-it, in a notebook, etc. We might record our questions, confusions, thoughts, or highlight and underline important information, circle unfamiliar words, or star something we want to remember.

Text lifting for shared reading

We place a copy of the text on an overhead projector or post it on a chart as students work from their own copy. We think through and code the text together to understand and process the information.

Observing, noticing and sharing language and reading behaviors

While modeling, we ask kids to observe and notice our responses and reading behaviors. When we stop, the class discusses what they noticed, writes about what they observed or creates an anchor chart of behaviors they observed.

Anchor charting

We construct anchor charts to record kids' thinking about a text, lesson, or strategy so that we can return to it to remember the process. Anchor charts connect past teaching and learning to future teaching and learning. Everyone weighs in to construct meaning and hold thinking.

Reading, writing, and talking

Kids read, code, and respond to the text individually and then talk to each other and share out the process and the content.

Interactive reading aloud

As the teacher reads aloud, kids respond in writing. The teacher stops occasionally to provide time for them to turn to each other and talk.

Purposeful talk

We provide opportunities for kids to talk purposefully in a variety of structures including turning to each other and sharing during whole group instruction, jig-sawing the text in small groups, small group reading and responding, paired reading for discussion, and conferring.

Scaffolds and forms

We provide a range of response options including graphic organizers, double and triple column forms and response starters to support kids to leave tracks of their thinking so they can better understand it.

Using our own literature and reading experience to model reading

We bring in text we are actually reading to illustrate how we use comprehension strategies to make sense of and understand our own reading. In this way, students come to view us as readers and observe our authentic process.

Rereading to clarify meaning and expand understanding

Going back over a piece of text to show how we clarify confusion as well as demonstrate how thinking changes when we reread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Comprehension Toolkit research based?

The pedagogy and curriculum of the Comprehension Toolkit are grounded in research-based principles. For an overview of the key principles that underpin the Toolkit lessons click here.

Can I use the Toolkit in my reading workshop?

The essential components of comprehension instruction fit seamlessly into a reading workshop model. In the Toolkit, we model, thinking out loud as we read to kids and showing them how we think through and respond to text. Next, we guide them to think about text with us as we read and respond to it together. Once kids have a thorough understanding of the task, we send them off to read and respond on their own, with a partner, or in small groups. During independent or collaborative practice, we move around the room conferring with kids in order to provide individualized and differentiated instruction. Instruction is tailored to meet the needs of each and every child. At the end of the workshop, we come back together as a group to share learning and to build a community of learners through conversation and discussions about reading.

The only difference we can see between PTK instruction and the reading workshop model is that when we introduce comprehension strategies and practices for the first time, our lessons take longer than standard minilessons. Our lessons are more like "maxilessons" than minilessons, and for good reason. We spend more instructional time modeling and guiding so that we can explicitly teach the reading and thinking strategies. We typically model our own thinking and guide kids through a good portion of text so that they have a clear idea of what to do. Then kids try this out themselves when they are ready. But we don't do Toolkit lessons just once. We teach them multiple times in different texts. Subsequent lessons to review and practice thinking strategies can be much shorter, more in the realm of minilessons.

We've found the Toolkit lessons especially useful in a reading workshop model because the reading and thinking strategies are cumulative. Kids build a repertoire of these that they apply across many texts and genres. Kids use any and all of the strategies during independent practice. Kids internalize the comprehension strategies as tools they can use to understand whatever they read independently as well as books and articles they discuss in literature circles, inquiry groups, etc. Most importantly, kids come up with a myriad of creative ways to write, think, talk, and draw about their reading.

How have teachers integrated the Toolkit into their reading workshop?

In one kindergarten we know well, the kids spend several weeks at the beginning of the year "marinating" in nonfiction of all varieties, the classroom awash in nonfiction. The teacher conducts minilessons in nonfiction literacy, modeling her thinking and then sending kids off to practice on their own. Tubs of nonfiction books cover the tables. Post-its, pencils, and markers are readily available for kids to draw something they learned or mark a spot where they wondered with a question mark as the teacher moves around the room conferring with them. Each day at the culmination of the workshop, kids share out at the circle.

Every week or so, the teacher introduces a Primary Toolkit strategy in a longer launch lesson and then reviews that same strategy in her minilessons over subsequent days. For instance, kids spend two full weeks learning about different features, making a class Feature/Purpose book, noticing features in books, and beginning to use features as they draw information they are learning. As the kids are introduced to the idea of noticing new learning, they continue using features in their responses. Toolkit instruction in this classroom is about writing as much as reading, so in the workshop each day, kids talk, draw, and write, using invented spellings and their growing knowledge of sound/symbol correspondence to record their new learning. Most important, the kids keep using the strategies they have already practiced on a daily basis during reading workshop

Can I use the Toolkit with a balanced literacy or guided reading program?

The Toolkit addresses comprehension instruction within the balanced literacy model. There are countless programs addressing phonics and phonemic awareness, fluency, and other important elements of literacy instruction. We've focused our curriculum on comprehension-to make sure that instruction in this all-important aspect of reading is explicit, robust, and thoughtful.

Within a balanced literacy framework, the modeling and guided practice portions of Toolkit lessons are a good fit with instructional read-alouds and shared reading. Kids are up close, and we use large-format text such as big books and posters like the TFK posters as we read to and with the children. As we move into the guided practice portion of the lesson, kids often have clipboards so that after we talk and respond together, they write their own responses to leave tracks of their thinking. While they are still up close where we can carefully observe them, we check to see that they are ready to try the task in small groups or on their own.

The Toolkit fits like a glove with guided reading practices. Toolkit comprehension lessons are perfect for teachers to use as they meet with small guided reading groups. Typically, the guided reading lesson reinforces and reviews a strategy we have taught in a whole-group lesson previously. The small, flexible, needs-based guided reading group provides an opportunity for teachers to design explicit instruction to meet kids' shared learning needs. As kids read in multiple copies of the same text, we use the Lesson Guide to provide instruction. The Lesson Guide supplies the lesson moves and language that can be applied to any text and works seamlessly with leveled guided reading books. The small guided reading group is ideal for assessing how kids use and apply comprehension strategies as they read, giving teachers a good idea of what to teach next.

Often children who are not meeting with the teacher during guided reading time work collaboratively or independently, usually in centers. As part of center work, we have set up tables with books, Post-its, writing paper, markers, etc., so that kids can use the strategies and response options we have introduced in Toolkit lessons. This all-important independent practice focuses kids mainly on reading, with short responses that reinforce the strategy that has been taught. Kids might mark a Post-it with an L and record new learning, draw a picture to demonstrate thinking, or ask a question to clarify confusion. The emphasis is on authentic response that contributes to learning rather than responses that simply keep kids busy while the teacher is working with small groups. Kids need to stay busy, but they need to be busy with meaningful work.

How have teachers integrated the Toolkit into their balanced literacy program?

One school uses the Toolkit in their balanced literacy program. After teaching all of the kids the lessons in the Monitor Comprehension Strategy Book, the teachers teach Toolkit lessons in small, needs-based guided reading groups. The school is steeped in comprehension strategy instruction, so some second-graders, for instance, already have a strong foundation in making connections and questioning in nonfiction text. So the teacher begins Toolkit instruction for them with the Infer & Visualize strategy book. Other guided reading groups may be working on activating and connecting to background knowledge or asking questions, depending on their needs.

In another class team of first-grade teachers work together to plan out Toolkit instruction over the first months of the school year. Kids are already familiar with nonfiction as a genre, so the teachers introduce one Toolkit lesson at the beginning of each week. The launch lesson is completed in one longer block, and after the teacher models, the kids spend much of the first day in guided practice with partners in the meeting area. In this way, the teachers observe everyone as they confer with kids, making sure kids understand the strategy and are ready to try it on their own. Teachers note those kids who need additional small-group practice so they can review the lesson in small, flexible needs-based guided reading groups on subsequent days.

The following day, after a brief minilesson to review the strategy, kids disperse to centers to practice the strategy with nonfiction books at their respective levels. At each center, teachers place an example of responses based on lessons taught previously-a sample Postit marked with a ? or an L, or phrases that kids might use in their written response, such as "I wonder . . . " or "I learned." Centers are set up so that kids can be as independent as possible while the teachers pull small groups for instruction. Small-group guided reading lessons include review of strategies already introduced at the beginning of the week. Lessons are adapted to the needs of different groups, so that instruction is differentiated.

At the end of the guided reading session, each class comes together to share their learning-in this way the teachers can make a quick assessment of what kids accomplish independently in the centers.

Can I use the Toolkit with a basal reading program?

Most basal programs have plenty of leeway for integrating Toolkit comprehension instruction with the selections in the anthology. First of all, anthologies are great sources of additional text for kids. So feel free to use whatever Toolkit lesson fits best with selections in the anthology. Also, some users of basal programs have told us that their anthologies lack enough nonfiction to provide kids with solid practice in informational text reading. So integrating the Toolkit and its texts with a program provides much-needed, engaging nonfiction for kids.

One thing we have noticed about the comprehension element of many basal reading programs is that although strategies such as asking questions and drawing inferences are mentioned throughout the Teacher's Guide, the basal does not explain how to teach comprehension explicitly. We have yet to see a basal program with robust, in-depth comprehension instruction at its core. Good news! You can't get much more explicit or robust than the Toolkit for comprehension instruction. The Toolkit gives you both the teaching language and teaching moves to teach a variety of comprehension strategies. So we recommend using the Toolkit comprehension lessons to ramp up basal lessons. The Lesson Guides in the six Strategy Books provide an explicit way to teach Toolkit comprehension lessons with a basal text.

How have teachers integrated the Toolkit into their basal reading program?

In one district, teachers use their whole ninety-minute literacy block every Friday to teach a full Toolkit strategy lesson. Then, on the following Monday through Thursday, kids practice the featured comprehension strategy in selections from the basal. They also do the skill sections of the basal program. When Friday comes around, another ninety-minute Toolkit lesson immerses kids in thinking and sets the pace for the following week. This plan evolved because the district recognized that the comprehension instruction in the basal program was too limited to grow powerful readers who use comprehension strategies to understand what they read.

Can you use the Toolkit to teach science and social studies?

Many schools and teachers use the Toolkit across the curriculum, expanding into science and social studies. Often teachers using highly scripted reading programs simply make the content areas the home of strong comprehension instruction, using the nonfiction topics and materials these potentially fascinating subjects offer kids. Download a chapter from the Teacher's Guide on this topic.

In one second-grade classroom, Toolkit strategies are introduced as an integral part of science and social studies instruction. As the teachers plan the required weather curriculum study, they incorporate Toolkit instruction, which they continue to use in subsequent social studies and science units throughout the year. To build background knowledge, kids read and respond to a variety of nonfiction, including books, charts, videos, maps, newspaper articles, and online sources. Kids notice new information and ask questions as they read and view all these different sources. They write and draw what they are learning, using features such as close-ups, labels, and captions.

Toolkit lessons focusing on both note-taking and summarizing and synthesizing information provide ways for kids to organize the information they are learning and create books, poems, posters, and other projects to share knowledge. In this way, reading, writing, and thinking strategies become a means to an end-investigating new topics as kids learn about the real world.

Can I use the Toolkit for summer school instruction?

Because the Toolkit is an intensive course of study designed to help students access and learn from nonfiction texts it is an ideal summer school resource for students who need additional support in learning fundamental comprehension strategies. For a summer school literacy guide that will help you plan a summer school curriculum and assess student progress click here