Reading Comprehension

Phrase-Cued Text Lessons

DESCRIPTION: Phrase-cued texts are a means to train students to recognize the natural pauses that occur between phrases in their reading.


  • Rasinski, T.V. (1990). The effects of cued phrase boundaries on reading performance: A review. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED313689).
  • Rasinski, T. V. (1994). Developing syntactic sensitivity in reading through phrase-cued texts. Intervention in School and Clinic, 29, 165-168.

Text Lookback

Reserve several instructional sessions to introduce the steps in this comprehension strategy.

Jim's Hints

Have Students Write Text-Lookback Questions for Assigned Reading. For homework, encourage students to compose several challenging text-lookback questions based on their assigned reading. Use these questions later for class review.

Reciprocal Teaching: A Reading Comprehension Package

The intervention package teaches students to use reading comprehension strategies independently, including text prediction, summarization,question generation, and clarification of unknown or unc

Jim's Hints

Let students select Reciprocal Teaching passages. Allow the group to vote for a preferred passage from among several possible choices. Choice often increases student motivation and investment.

Start a 'Reciprocal Teaching' Tutoring Program. Once students become proficient in using the Reciprocal Teaching package, consider assigning them as peer tutors to train other students to use Reciprocal Teaching strategies.

Reading Comprehension Fix-Up Skills: A Classroom Toolkit

Good readers continuously monitor their understanding of informational text.


Students are taught to boost their comprehension of expository passages by (1) locating the main idea or key ideas in the passage and (2) generating questions based on that information.

Jim's Hints

Use "Gist" Sentences to Organize Student Research Notes. When students are writing research papers, they often find it challenging to synthesize their scattered research notes into an orderly outline with sequentially presented main ideas.

Students who have mastered the skill of assembling key ideas into "gist" sentences can identify their most important research notes, copy these notes individually onto index cards, and group cards with related notes. The student can then write a single "gist" sentence for each pile of note cards and use these sentences as the starting point for a paper outline.

Collect Exemplary Examples of Student-Generated Questions as Study Aids. If your class is using an assigned textbook, you may want to collect well-written student-generated questions and share them with other students. Or assign students different sections of an article or book chapter and require that they 'teach' the content by presenting their text-generated questions and sharing the correct answers.

Select Student Questions As Quiz or Test Items. You can build classroom interest (and competition!) in using this question-generation strategy by occasionally using one or more student text-questions as quiz or test items.

Prior Knowledge: Activating the 'Known'

Through a series of guided questions, the instructor helps students activate their prior knowledge of a specific topic to help them comprehend the content of a story or article on the same topic.

Jim's Hints

Use Text Prediction to Prepare Students for Homework Reading. You can apply the Text Prediction strategy to boost student comprehension of homework reading assignments. When assigning the homework passages, take students through the steps in the strategy. Then require that students take their own written predictions home to compare to their actual reading.

Transition from Group to Individual Application of the Strategy. As your students become proficient in applying the strategy, you can gradually train them to use the strategy independently.

As the instructor, you might hand out the three main ideas for a story and then direct students to take each idea and write out (1) a short account of their own experiences with the topic, and (2) a prediction of what the article or story will say about the main idea. You can collect these written assignments to monitor student understanding and follow-through in using the technique.

Oral Recitation Lesson

This intervention builds student motivation and interest by having them participate along with the teacher in repeated public readings of a story across several days.

Jim's Hints

Let Students Vote on Stories to Be Recited. To build student motivation for this activity, you may occasionally want to let the class vote on a book that they would like to recite. If your range of book choices is constrained by your curriculum, you might offer 4-5 acceptable stories and have students choose from that list.

Make Your Book Recitations Public Events. Oral recitation lessons are intended as public performances. Once your students become comfortable reading aloud to an audience, you might invite other classes or parents to attend your final readings.

Another idea is to help your students to turn an oral recitation lesson into a community service experience. For example, students might ask residents of a nursing home to select a story that they would enjoy hearing and then visit the facility to give an expressive reading.

Mental Imagery: Improving Text Recall

By constructing "mental pictures" of what they are reading and closely studying text illustrations, students increase their reading comprehension.

Jim's Hints

Have Your Students Become More Active Reading Participants. As your students become more adept at using mental imagery and text illustrations to comprehend their reading, enlist them in critical discussions about the strengths or drawbacks of a particular book, chapter, or article. How clearly does the author write? Is it easy or difficult to form mental pictures of the passage's content, and why? How would they grade the author on the quality and clarity of his or her illustrations?

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