Reading Strategy Application(Elementary & Secondary)

"According to the research, we know that students who naturally use learning strategies are more successful in school than those who do not...therefore, it is important to model the use of effective strategies within the classroom so that all students can be knowledgeable about using them" (Frank, 2006.)

Students in Mrs. Peña's 6th grade ELA class

The reading strategies that we will be sharing involve discussion, writing, drawing, and even role play. These strategies involve activities that allow students to engage with text by helping them think before, during, and after they read. The activities are simple-and-easy to use and activate a number of mental strategies good readers use to understand text.

These strategies are organized into the three stages of reading which are discussed in Subjects Matter by Daniels and Zemelman (2004). They include strategies that readers use Before, During, and After reading.

*BEFORE: activities that prepare students to read.

1) getting students focused on and excited about the reading
2) developing purposes for reading
3) activating students's questions, beliefs, and predictions about issues in the reading
4) making connections with students' prior knowledge to help make sense of the reading

*DURING: helping students construct, process, and question ideas as they read.
1) visualize what is happening in a story
2) questioning about a topic
3) making connections
4) inferencing
5) distinguishing important ideas
6) monitoring their comprehension

*AFTER: guiding students to reflect on, integrate, and share the ideas when they're finished.
1) synthesizing ideas within their reading and what they've read
2) making larger inferences and connections
3) following up on questions and purposes
4) sharing their thoughts to help others with this process

The following are the strategies that we incorporated.
*Please note that we have only scratched the surface of reading strategies. There are many more available and we will list a few, at the bottom of this page, along with some websites to help you on your way.*
*We would also like to mention that these strategies are easily modified to accommodate for both elementary and secondary classrooms.*

Before Reading
How did it work in my classroom?
Anticipation guides are brief sets of questions (3-5) that help students activate their prior knowledge on a subject. Students may discuss their responses with their classmates before they begin reading.
Before reading a chapter dealing with bullying, I had my students complete four open-ended questions on this topic. Students were then asked to discuss in their groups and then as a whole class. I noticed that after discussing these questions students were extremely eager to begin reading.

Anticipation Guide: Bullying

Before Reading
How did it work in my classroom?
Think Alouds
The teacher reads a selection and
stops during the reading process
so that the students can understand
what good readers do while they read.
What I noticed most was that the students began to use the vocabulary that I was using. I kept mentioning how I was making connections. I said that Clementine being the "difficult one" made me make a connection to my second daughter. They laughed and someone said that they knew what it was like to lose a pet like Clementine had lost. The said they made a connection to their lives about loosing a pet.
Reading Aloud
The teacher will carefully select literature to engage the students and show them how to read with prosody and fluency.
I can't be perfectly sure how much my reading has influenced my students fluency because there is so much that goes on that will affect this aspect of their reading. But I have noticed some improvement with a few students' prosody especially with exclamations after the reading of Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner. The one thing that I do know for sure is that my students really do look forward to the read aloud time and can complain incessantly if something takes that time away from us.

During Reading
How did it work in my classroom?
Students use small sticky notes to mark spots in the text, jotting responses and flagging important passages. Then during class discussions they can refer to these notes.
While reading my students were given sticky notes to place in spots they felt were important to discuss. They were asked to write why they were deciding to mark that spot in the text. This is an extremely simple strategy to implement that has great results. The sticky notes helped my students keep track of their thinking throughout their reading.

Karina engaged in Post-It Response Notes strategy

During and After Reading
How did it work in my classroom?
Sketching My Way Through the Text
Students create a sequence of sketches to illustrate thoughts, steps, or stages of a process described in their reading.
As my students read through a chapter in their assigned novel I asked them to sketch what they felt was important. I emphasized that it was not an art contest so they did not have to worry about their drawings. This strategy was very helpful especially for my struggling or reluctant readers who have a difficult time making mental pictures as they read. Sketching was powerful because it allowed my students to visualize what they were reading about.

Sketching My Way Through the Text

During Reading
How did it work in my classroom?
Vocabulary Tree

This can also be done after reading.
This strategy is used to help students make connections with preselected vocabulary words in order to get a deeper understanding of a word or words. It is versatile in that it can be as simple or complex as needed.
This strategy was a little difficult to implement but it was worth it. The students struggled to get the idea of organization in this strategy. They kept looking at their text and shouting out any words that they saw. They began to understand that I was going to keep asking about the connection with the root word and started thinking a little deeper. I drew the tree on my whiteboard using the ideas that they were giving me and then we created a larger interactive version of the same tree. It was difficult and involved a lot of probing but I was happy with the results and am ready to try it again.
Vocabulary Tree - Mrs. Garza's Class

After Reading
How did it work in my classroom?
Story Ray
After the students have read a selection you will group them and give each group a part of the story to visually represent. Make sure to remind them that you are not looking for an illustration of the story but for a picture that represents the story and that it is not an art contest.
We did our first story ray on Who Stole the Wizard of Oz by Avi. I read this book aloud to my students over a period of two weeks. The students were placed in groups of four and given two to three chapters as well as a white sentence strip. We had done some drawings of things that could be used as visual representations of some of the story and then they did their own representations.
Who Stole the Wizard of Oz Story Ray by Mrs. S. Garza's 2nd Grade Class

After Reading
How did it work in my classroom?
After the reading is completed, students will need to partner up for a written conversation. Students will need to understand that they will be writing simultaneous notes to one another
about the reading selection. They will be exchanging every two or three minutes at the teacher's command. The teacher may provide an open-ended prompt or leave the topic open.

Since most of my students love to write notes
to each other I knew that this strategy was one that they would really enjoy working on. I paired each student with a partner and explained that after reading the next chapter of our novel they would be participating in their dialogue journals. Although a prompt may be given I decided to let my students choose what they felt was important for them to discuss. This strategy allows for your whole class to be actively discussing their topic. My students loved it!

Dialogue Journals by students in Mrs. Pena's 6th grade ELA class

Dialogue Journals by students in Mrs. Pena's 6th grade ELA class

After Reading
How did it work in my classroom?
After students have completed a book or novel
the Graffiti Board is an engaging way to
get students to deepen their understanding of
what they have read. Students work in
groups of 3-4, and begin to illustrate by using symbols, drawings, colors, words, and/or
quotations on large pieces of paper, using
crayons or markers.
I grouped my students in groups of four. Each group was assgined a specific chapter on a novel we had read over a period of 4 weeks. Each group worked together to create a visual representation of their chapter. When all groups were completed, they presented to the class
and explained the elements of their Graffiti Board.

Graffiti Board Presentation by students in Mrs. Pena's class

Other Reading Strategies
--as described in Subjects Matter

This is to help them think about what they already know and to get them going on a new topic.
This is similar to brainstorming but the ideas are set up in a two dimensional manner with students simply making associations they think they know about a topic.
Students are to list what they Know, Want to learn, and what they Learned about a specific topic.
I really liked a modified KWL chart provided at
Dramatic Role Play
Students work together to act out an even from the selection.
Probable Passage
The teacher assigns a list of words and the students work in groups to try to figure out the "gyst" of what the reading might be. They also work on a list of questions that may have arisen by what they didn't understand.
Coding Text
This is kind of like shorthand notetaking for students. They make marks on the margins of what they are reading so that they can refer back to it. A star could be used to note something important, a checkmark for something that confirms your thoughts, and so on.
Book Marks
A paper folded in thirds will help the students keep their place as well as allow them a place to illustrate or jot down their thoughts and/or questions.
It Says/ I Say
A three columned chart that the students are to finish the comments on. The columns would read It says..., I say..., and so... This will make them put their thoughts and the text together to create their own meaning.
Say Something
Students are set up in partners and asked to talk briefly about the text at selected stopping points.
Exit and Admit Slips
Students will write one important thing that they learned and use this as their ticket to leave the class. The same can be done at the beginning of class.
There are many different graphic organizers that fall into this category. It is a visual representation of how ideas in the text connect.
Save the Last Word for Me
Students write down a few quotes from the passage and on the opposite side write why they chose that quote down. Their groupmates will then try to figure out why they chose that statement. The author of the quote gets the last word because they will say why they chose the statement.
Students write about the Role the writer takes, the Audience with whom the writer is speaking, the Format of the writing and the Topic of the reading.
Word Meaning Graphic Organizers
Many different kinds are available.
The teacher provides a list of vocabulary and the students arrange the words in clusters based on things they have in common. Then the students will label each cluster.

Reading Strategies

Helpful Resources

*Reading Quest - This site lists many of the above mentioned strategies as well as others. It provides detailed instructions and blackline masters for some of the graphic organizers. We would like to extend a special thanks to Raymond C. Jones, PhD for allowing us to link to his webpage.
* -This site is a literacy resource for educators and parents.

Teaching Tips provided by Daniels and Zemelman in Subjects Matter

The following are some ideas to insure a reading strategy works and becomes an effective, regular part of a student's repertoire.

  • Introduce just one strategy at a time. Then have students practice it repeatedly.
  • Model the activity yourself, as you explain to students how to use it.
  • Particularly for a strategy that will be used individually, practice the strategy first as a whole class, comparing various responses that students write (or draw, or talk through), so kids see the various ways it can work for them.
  • As students make use of the strategy during in-class reading time, move around the room, observe what they are doing, and provide help when it's needed.

-Avi. (1981). Who Stole the Wizard of Oz. Atlanta, GA: Houghton Mifflin.

-Daniels, H., & Zemelman, S. (2004). Subjects Matter Every Teacher's Guide to Content-Area Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

-Frank, C. B., Grossi, J. M., & Stanfield, D. J. (2006). Applications of Reading Strategies within the Classroom. Boston: Pearson.

-Pennypacker, S. (2008). Clementine. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

-Schachner, J. (2003). Skippyjon Jones. New York: Dutton Children's Books.