Scaffold student understanding of text when you use the following ideas and strategies that I have briefly described below.  Many of these strategies are suitable for secondary as well as elementary students. I have researched links and materials to additional information about each strategy and have provided downloads to worksheets that you can print to provide students with support for many of the strategies. The following symbols will help you determine whether a strategy is best used before, during or after reading:  


Strategies are listed alphabetically:

ABC Brainstorming -   students can use this strategy as a straight-forward way to activate prior knowledge before they start to read about a broad-ended subject (like a chapter on WWII, for example). Students individually list everything they know about a particular topic and fill in facts based on an alphabetical outline. Then, they work in small groups to compare and add information. Students review their ABC list for accuracy as and add to the outline as they read. This strategy can also be used to review information forllowing a reading. For more information link to:

Annolighting a Text -  students highlight key words and phrases in a text and annotate highlighted words with notes in the margin.  For more information link to:

Annotating a Text -   help students slow down and develop their critical analysis skills is to teach them to annotate the text as they read.  For more information link to:

Anticipation Guide -   a pre-reading strategy used to help students engage in thought and discussion about ideas, concepts, and content they will encounter as they read text. For more information link to:

Collaborative Annotation -   students co-construct their interpretation of a text through a collaborative annotative process.  Tip:  Have students use different color pens, post-it notes, etc.  For more information link to:

  • Greece CSD   (includes a great sample)
  • Shared Copy - a digital way to collaboratively annotate webpages.  View the video below to learn more and click on the link to register for a free account.

Conversations Across Time -    use this strategy to help students develop deeper insights by making connections between and across texts from different time periods in response to a common theme, topic, or essential question.  This is a form of comparing and contrasting for understanding.  For more information link to: 

Crazy Professor Reading Game -    an innovative method of strengthening students' comprehension and thinking skills through peer interaction that involves listening, paraphrasing, questioning and making connections. To see this game in action watch the following YouTube video:

Focused Reading  -    Students use this strategy to actively engage with text as they read. To utilize the strategy teach students how to use the following three focused reading symbols:

= Got it. I understand and know this part of the text

  = This is really important or interesting  
  = I don't understand this or it doesn't make sense  
Students can either write on photocopied pages or use post-it notes with the symbols as they read.

Frame of Reference -    this strategy helps students create a mental context for reading a passage as they consider what they know about a topic and how they know what they know.  For more information link to:

Inferential Reading  -    when implementing this  strategy, students maintain a  list of the various types of inferences that readers make while reading with the goal that they will recognize that there are different types of inferences.  Analyzing different types of readings (even those that seem straight-forward) students begin to decode text more consciously and strategically.  For more information link to:

Interactive Notebook -    this two-column note-taking strategy is easily adapted.  In the right column, students 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.).  For more information link to:

Key Concept Synthesis -    students use this strategy to identify the most important ideas in a text, reword those ideas, and make connections between the main ideas.   For more information link to:

"Listening" to Voice -    students can use this strategy to analyze and interpret writer's voice through the annotation of a passage, with particular emphasis on dictions, tone, syntax, unity, coherence, and audience.  While the name of this strategy suggests that students may be listening with their ears, the process entails listening with eyes and searching for words and clues that have been written by the author of the text.  This is probably one of the most difficult strategies to grasp and implement.  For more info

Metaphor Analysis -    students can use this strategy to analyze a complex metaphor and support interpretive claims using evidence found in a text.  For more information link to:

Parallel Note-taking -    students use this strategy to recognize different organizational patterns for informational texts and then develop a note-taking strategy that parallels the organization of the text.  For more information link to:  

Popcorn Reading -    students use this strategy to stay engaged and alert while reading out loud. Students work on pairs to read out loud. One person reads and when he/she is ready for the next person says "popcorn." The next person takes up where the first student left off and says "popcorn" when he/she is ready for the next person to read again.

QAR -    this strategy can be used by students to help them identify the four Question-Answer Relationships they are likely to encounter as they read texts and attempt to answer questions about what they have read.  Question types include "right there" questions, "think and search" questions, "author and you" questions, and "on my own" questions.  For more information link to:

View more presentations from Drew Schuh.

Questions Only -    when using this strategy students pose questions about the texts they are reading and actively work to answer the questions they have posed (often as they continue to read). For more information link to:

RAFT assignments -    students can use this strategy (which is often associated with writing) 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, or a Topic on which to write in response to their reading.  

  • Role of the Writer - Who are you as the writer? Are you George Washington? A warrior? A homeless person? An auto mechanic? An endangered animal?
  • Audience - To whom are you writing? Is your audience the general public? A friend? Your teacher? Readers of a newspaper? A local bank?
  • Format - What form will the writing take? Is it a letter? A classified ad? A speech? A poem?
  • Topic + strong Verb - What's the subject or the point of this piece? Is it to persuade a princess to spare your life? To plead for a re-test? To call for stricter regulations on logging?

For more information link to:     

Reader Response -    this strategy was is formed from Louise Rosenblatt's transactional theory of reading. Rosenblatt suggests that a reader can approach a piece of text with two different motivations: fact-finding and/or emotional (based on past experiences). Rosenblass suggests that students approach text from both stances in order to invigorate critical thinking and increase the potential for a thoughtful response.

Reciprocal Teaching -    students use this strategy to activate four different comprehension strategies - predicting, questioning, clarifying, summarizing - which they apply collaboratively to help each other understand a text they are reading.  For more information link to:

Say Something -    during this paired reading strategy (developed by Jerome Harste) partners develop relationships between new information and what they all ready know or believe. Partners read silently to a designated stopping point in the text. When both participants have reached the stopping point they take turns "saying something" about what they read. The process is completed until the entire reading selection is completed. Ideally,( after a designated time) whole class discussion serves as a follow-up to this strategy. For more information link to:

Sociogram -    students use this strategy to create a visual representation of the relationships among characters in a literary text.  Pictures, symbols, shapes, colors, and line styles are used to illustrate character relationships, to understand the traits of each character, and to analyze the emerging primary and secondary conflicts in a story/text. For more information link to:

SQ3R -    students use this strategy independently or collaboratively as they read text assignments.  First, students survey (scan) their textbook for pictures, bold print, charts, summaries, etc.  Then, students question themselves regarding what they already know about the topic/subject.  Finally, students read, recite, and review information found in the text (chapter).  In summary...

  • S = Survey & Scan
  • Q = Question personal knowledge of the topic/subject
  • R = Read
  • R = Recite
  • R = Review

For more information link to:

SQRW -    students can use this four-step strategy to read and take notes from a chapter. Each letter of this strategy represents one step of the strategy:

  • S = Survey before you begin to read. To survey a chapter, read the title, introduction, headings, and the summary or conclusion. Also, examine all visuals such as pictures, tables, maps, and/or graphs and read the caption that goes with each. By surveying a chapter, you will quickly learn what the chapter is about.
  • Q = Question. Form questions in your mind (or on paper) before you begin to read. Hint: form simple questions by changing each chapter heading into a question. Use the words who, what, when, where, why, or how to form questions.
  • R = Read. Read the information that follows each heading to find the answer to each question you formed. Focus and adapt your adapt your questions so you can gather as much information as you need to answer each question.
  • W = Write. Record each question and its answer in your notebook. Reread each of your written answers to be sure each answer is legible and contains all the important information needed to answer the question.

For more information link to:

Think-Aloud -    students "thinking aloud" (or along) while reading and responding to a text. The think-aloud strategy helps students recognize and hone sills that good readers use in an implicit manner so that they can be utilized with more explicit intent and purpose.  For more information link to:

Transactional Reading Journal -  this strategy is inspired by the work of Louise Rosenblatt (1978), who described reading as a transactional process that occurs between the text and the reader. The Transactional Reading Journal provides a flexible framework for engaging students in a process of active and personally meaningful interaction with a text. For more information link to:

  • Greece CSD has posted detailed information regarding this strategy along within an excellent list of suggested topics for Journal entries.

Visualization -  "Proficient readers spontaneously and purposely create mental images while and after they read. The images emerge from all five senses as well as the emotions and are anchored in a reader's prior knowledge." (Keene and Zimmerman, Mosaic of Thought). This strategy can be taught through modeling and practice. Use the following resources to learn more:

Site researched and designed by Jen Farr, Updated 02/2010. All rights reserved. Research links have been included under each strategy.
Please note: Every effort is made to assure sound, appropriate resources have been found for classroom use, however web sites can change without notice.
Please contact me if you find any dead or inappropriate links, so that I can delete or revise those links in a timely manner