RA Reference Guide

Good readers employ reading strategies at all phases of the reading process, including before reading, during reading, and after reading.  Below are core RA strategies broken into all three phases of reading.  For auxiliary strategies, check out the "Handouts" tab of this site, linking you to over 20 additional resources in the form of a handout for each strategy.

Strategies for Before Reading: 

Personal Reading History

Addresses the Personal Domain

An exercise in which each reader remembers and writes about their development as a reader noting particular highs and lows, insider and outsider moments, and supports or lack of support for literacy development.

Students share some highlights in pairs and then as a whole group.

Making Thinking Visible (Making Creations with Pipe Cleaners)

Addresses the Social/Cognitive Domain

This activity provides an introduction to think aloud and metacognitive conversation in a non-academic, non-threatening way.

Students are given pipe cleaners to form into a specific object while verbalizing their thought process.  It is a good idea to do this activity to introduce the idea of metacognition.

Anticipation Guide   

Addresses the Cognitive Domain.

An Anticipation Guide helps students activate their prior knowledge before reading, develop a purpose for reading, and make connections between their own experiential base and what they read.

Students complete the Anticipation Guide before reading and discuss their responses. After completing the reading, they return to the Anticipation Guide for revision.

LINK   (is actually used before, during, and after)

Addresses the Knowledge Building Domain.

List/Inquire/Note/Know is a brainstorming and discussion strategy featuring group interaction that helps students access and build their background knowledge and delve into a topic in preparation for reading.

Students are given a term related to an upcoming reading and are guided through a list (where they individually list everything they think they know about a topic and then share one item from that list to compile a class list) and inquire (where they get to ask for clarification about why fellow students placed items on the list).  As the students discuss/read, they take notes about what they are reading/learning. After reading they write and discuss what they know after they have read the new material.

Test As Genre (is actually used before, during, and after)

Addresses the Knowledge Building Domain.

"Test As Genre" gives students opportunities to analyze passages and text items similar to those on high-stakes standardized tests. Students learn about the assumptions behind the tests, how test questions are constructed, and what the test is asking them to do. Using sample test passages, the teacher models approaching the test by thinking aloud. The students practice by using a Think Aloud or Talking to the Text. As a class use QAR to review question types. The class generates a "Test-Taking Strategies List" based on the students' ideas.

Reciprocal Teaching   (is used  before, during, and after)

Addresses metacognition and all four domains.

Reciprocal Teaching is an instructional procedure designed to help struggling readers improve their reading comprehension through interactive dialogue. Students orchestrate group dialogue to deepen understanding of content of text by students assuming the responsibility of four cognitive strategies - Summarizing, Questioning, Clarifying and Predicting. (Visualizing is also an option for a 5th group member).

K-W-L   (is used before and after)

Addresses the Cognitive and Knowledge-Building Domains.

K-W-L is a strategy that aids students in thinking actively while reading by recording what they already know about a topic, what they want to know about a topic (both before reading), and what they learned about the topic (after reading).

Strategies for During Reading:

Talking to the Text 

Addresses the Cognitive Domain.

TttT is a scaffold that provides students with an opportunity to engage with the text independently before sharing their process.

Students are given a passage to read independently and encouraged to write in the margins, make notes, designate unfamiliar vocabulary, ask questions, and make comments and predictions. In pairs and then as a class students use their notes to help each other clarify meaning.

Think Aloud

Addresses the Social and Cognitive Domains.

A Think Aloud helps students practice the mental strategies engaged in by good readers. Teacher reads a piece of text to the class that he or she has not seen before. The teacher verbalizes his thought process, modeling his interaction with his inner voice, enabling the students to see how he makes sense of the text.

Capturing Your Reading Process

Addresses the Personal Domain

While reading a piece of challenging text, students are asked to pay attention to the strategies they use to make sense of the text and then answer some questions regarding their reading process.

Share and record reading strategies as a whole group. Post the list in the classroom as a Good Reader Tool Kit so the strategies can be referred to as needed.  It is a good idea to do this activity pretty early on in your implementation of RA strategies.

Double/Triple Entry Journals

Addresses the Cognitive and Knowledge-Building Domains.

A note-taking activity that is useful and adaptable across content areas. The reader records quotes or ideas from the reading in one column and makes observations, personal connections, and comments about the comprehension process in other columns.

Metacognitive Graphic Organizers   

Addresses Metacognition and all four Domains.

Graphic organizers are tools that can help students think about their own learning process and understand how they clarify new concepts and relinquish old ones that interfere with comprehension.

Students should have the opportunity to experience a variety of graphic organizers and how they are used. They may also learn to create their own and explain their metacognitive process in creating it.  Examples are Webs, Venn Diagrams, etc.

Extensive Reading

Addresses metacognition and all four domains.

Extensive Reading is wide-ranging, independent reading in any content area class that supports and supplements subject area knowledge and offers students some choice over reading selections.  One type of extensive reading is Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) where students read any text of their choosing for a set period of time on a regular basis.  A second type of extensive reading uses Thematic Text Sets in which a content area teacher (with the help of a librarian) pulls together texts of varying reading levels and styles on a particular unit or topic.  Students read any text from that "thematic text set" for a set period of time on a regular basis.

Pause and Reflect  

Addresses the Cognitive and Knowledge-Building Domains.

The Pause and Reflect strategy involves a continual evaluation of one's own understanding by periodically summarizing what is being read.

The reading assignment is divided into logical, equal parts. Students note a main K-point, a question, and a connection for each session.

Stop and Talk, Write, Highlight, Draw

Addresses the Cognitive and Knowledge-Building Domains.

These four instructional tools can stand alone or be used in any combination with each other. Each one involves a different way of interacting with the text to enhance comprehension.

Stop and Talk= Students stop reading and discuss with a partner or group whether they agree or disagree with what they are reading.

Stop and Write=Students stop reading and write down new information.

Stop and Highlight=Students stop reading and highlight everything they understand in one color and everything they DON'T understand in a different color.

Stop and Draw=Students stop reading and draw what they are picturing in their minds.

Strategies for After Reading:

Question-Answer Relationships 

Addresses the Cognitive and Knowledge Building Domains.

QAR is a reading strategy for deepening comprehension and a classroom tool for having meaningful text-based discussions in which students direct the focus. Questions are categorized into four types - Right There, Think and Search, Author and Me, and On My Own.

Using text from either the core curriculum or supplemental materials, students develop all four types of questions, then pose their questions to their peers, who in turn answer the questions and identify their type.

This Is About

Addresses the Cognitive Domain.

"This Is About" uses group work to teach students how to infer the main idea about a text when it is implied but not stated and to construct summaries from these main ideas. Students read and reread a passage combining independent, pair, and whole group work to work through details and get the big picture idea.


Addresses the Cognitive and Knowledge Building Domains.

This strategy assists students in breaking down a lengthy piece of text and determining its main ideas.

While reading the text, students use post-it notes to mark the Very Important Points in the selection and after completion, determine their Most Valuable Points. Students use these points to share out in pairs and whole group, debating as a pair or groups which points are very important or most valuable and why.

Twenty-five Word Abstract

Addresses the Cognitive and Knowledge-Building Domains.

This activity is a summarization strategy designed to better access text. Students work independently and then in groups to read a piece of text, discuss as a group any comprehension roadblocks, and discuss similarities and differences in their choices of main ideas. Their final goal is an individual and then collaborative twenty-five word abstract which is shared with the whole class.

Final Word Protocal  

Addresses the Social Domain.

Final Word Protocal is a discussion format whose purpose is to give each person in the group an opportunity to have his or her ideas, understandings, and perspective enhanced by hearing from others.

Each person has three minutes to share thoughts about a specific idea or quote in the reading and each group member gives a response. The person who began has the "final word" and the process is continued with each group member.

Analyzing Knowledge Demands of Text

Addresses the Cognitive and Knowledge Building Domains.

This application illustrates for students the importance of activating their own network of prior knowledge, or schema, to aid in comprehension.

Use this activity with a medium such as comic strips or newspaper headlines with multiple meanings. Allow students time to interact with the text individually then discuss the meaning of the text and prior knowledge used to determine the meaning.  This is a good strategy to use when your students will need some content-specific prior knowledge to make sense of a piece of text.

Metacognitive Logs

Addresses metacognition and the Cognitive Domain.

Metacognitive Logs help students become more aware of their thinking as readers and give them more control over how well they learn. They are a place for students to think and write about their own reading process.

Students choose a prompt from a list of sentence starters provided for them (such as "I was confused when..." and respond thoughtfully to the prompt in their metacognitive logs or notebooks. This should become part of their Extended Reading routine.