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What to teach : reading strategies

Literacy interventions need to teach the conventions of writing and the actions for manipulating this information. These actions are the reading and writing strategies.

In this section we identify the reading strategies that are useful to teach.

It is useful to think of the activity in which readers engage in three phases:

before reading while reading after reading
early stage of a reading act : getting ready or orienting while-reading stage: processing the text in depth post-reading or review stage

Each phase requires readers to use their knowledge in particular ways. There are actions readers use to get their knowledge ready for reading a particular text, for making sense of the text as they read and for learning from their reading activity.

Particular literacy knowledge and strategies can be taught at each stage. Some of these are shown for each type of text information in the following diagram, Readers can be taught to use their knowledge systematically while reading by learning what to do at each phase or stage during reading.

Stages of
Levels of text processing
Dispositional level Topic level Conceptual level Sentence level Word level
Getting ready or orienting stage Focus on purposes for reading: Why am I reading text? What will I look for as I read? What will I know when I have finished reading?
Readers say how they will read, the strategies they will use
Link text with what reader knows; by using title, pictures. What do I think text is about? What might the key ideas be?
video icon phrases
video icon sentences
Extend knowledge necessary for understanding the text.
Link ideas in text with what you know, use mapping, networking. What other ideas might come up with these? What might happen next? What questions can I ask about it?
video icon questions
video icon infer from sentences
video icon child's story
Focus on how the ideas might be said: How would I put these ideas into sentences?
video icon
How would I tell someone about them?
What will I do as I read / come to a strange word?
video icon new vocabulary
video icon keywords and phrases
video icon putting the picture into words
  • Readers say how they will read, the strategies they will use. "What will I do as I read/come to a strange word?"
  • Am I ready to read?
Teaching readers how to manipulate the text: While-reading strategies

Sentence level

  • break text into digestible bits, decide where to pause,
  • listen to themselves as they read,
  • act on ideas, put themselves in the context, video icon
  • paraphrase,
  • visualise what was read,video icon
  • questions while reading,video icon
  • Does it make sense/fit in?
  • re-read

Conceptual level

  • summarise, What is the main idea so far?
  • infer, Why did that happen? video icon
  • think ahead, predict, anticipate video icon video icon
  • review and consolidate, What do I know now?
  • underline, note down useful information
  • relate them to what they expected
  • gradually build an impression of the text.

Word level

  • use context of word video icon + initial few sounds
  • read to end of sentence and re-read
  • use word analysis and re-read
  • use meaning making motor (MMM)
Post-reading or review stage Respond emotionally to text. How I liked the text? Were ideas useful /interesting? Why was the text written?
video icon Respond emotionally to text

Review text understanding:
What did the text tell me?
video icon visualising and summarising
video icon summarising (continued)
video icon inferring
video icon through questions
Review, evaluate reading strategies used:
What reading actions worked?

video icon Reading Actions
video icon

Learn by reading. What new ideas have been learnt;video icon
how has reader's knowledge changed? What new ideas will I remember?
Add to their knowledge of language, for example, paraphrase ideas in text, note new ways of saying ideas.
video icon
What new words were in the text?

New letter clusters
video icon

The intervention needs to teach literacy knowledge and strategies systematically at each stage or phase of reading.

Teaching literacy knowledge and strategies at each stage or phase of reading
early stage of reading: while-reading stage: post-reading or review stage:
teaching readers to 'get their knowledge ready' for reading or 'orienting' what they know for reading. teaching readers how to comprehend or act on portions of the text in depth at a time, to integrate as they read and to predict. teaching readers how to integrate what they have read into an overall understanding and to add it to what they know.

Details of the three phases are as follows: