Michele A. Polselli's Kindergarten
Melville Elementary School, Portsmouth, RI

Strategy #1 - Making Connections

Students connect their background knowledge to the text they are reading.

Purpose of the strategy:

Readers comprehend better when they actively think about and apply their knowledge of the book's topic, their own experiences, and the world around them. Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis in their book, Strategies that Work (2000, p. 68), state that, "When children understand how to connect the text they read to their lives, they begin to make connections between what they read and the larger world. This nudges them into thinking about bigger, more expansive issues beyond their universe of home, school, and neighborhood."

How to help your student use this strategy:

To help your student make connections while they are reading, ask him/her the following questions:

What does the book remind you of?

What do you know about the book's topic?

Does this book remind you of another book?


Strategy #2 - Questioning

With questioning, students understand the text on a deeper level because questions clarify confusion and stimulate further interest in a topic.

Purpose of the strategy:

Through questioning, students are able to wonder about content and concepts before, during, and after reading by:

constructing meaning

enhancing meaning

finding answers

solving problems

finding specific information

acquiring a body of information

discovering new information

propelling research efforts

clarifying confusion
(Strategies that Work, 2000, p.22)

How to help your student use this strategy:

model questioning in your own rereading

ask "I wonder" questions (open-ended)

ask your student to come up with questions before reading to see if it's answered in the text

keep track of questions verbally or in an informal question log

stop and predict what will happen next

discuss what questions you still have after reading

Strategy #3 Visualizing

Students create mind pictures and visualizations when they read.

Purpose of the strategy:

The reader uses the text material and their own prior knowledge to create their own mind pictures of what is happening in the text. "Visualizing personalizes reading, keeps us engaged, and often prevents us from abandoning a book." (Strategies that Work, 2000, p.97).

How to help your student use this strategy:

To help you student visualize while reading, try the following:

share wordless picture books with your student - have your student tell the story

make frequent stops while reading aloud to describe the pictures in your minds

after reading time at home has your child draw what they see in their mind


Strategy #4 - Inferring

Students make inferences about text they are reading to interpret meaning and develop deeper understanding.

Purpose of the strategy:

Readers comprehend better when they make connections and construct their own knowledge (using prior experiences, visualizing, predicting and synthesizing) to interpret the "big idea." It is like a mental dialogue between the author and the student.

How to help your students use this strategy:

Ask them:

"How did you know that?"

"Why did you think that would happen?"

"Look at the cover and pictures, then make predictions."

"Discuss the plot and theme."

"What do you think this story was about?"

"How do you think the character feels?"

"Does it remind you of anything?"


Strategy #5 - Determining Importance

When students are reading nonfiction, they have to decide and remember what is important from the material they read.

Purpose of the strategy:

The purpose is to teach students to discriminate the "must know" information from the less important details in a text. "When kids read and understand nonfiction, they build background for the topic and acquire new knowledge. The ability to identify essential ideas and salient information is a prerequisite to developing insight." (Strategies that Work, 2000, p. 119).

How to help your student use this strategy:

To help you students determine importance while they are reading:

Initiate discussion before reading by asking what your students know about the topic and what they would like to learn.

After reading, discuss what important information they have learned.

While reading, help your students look for clues in the text to determine importance.
Pay attention to:

first and last lines of a paragraph




framed text




bold faced print


Strategy #6 - Synthesizing

Students weave together what they read and their own ideas into new complete thoughts.

Purpose of the strategy:

Readers comprehend better when they sift through information to make sense of it and to act upon it - such as judging or evaluating the author's purpose to form a new idea, opinion, or perspective. This is the highest and most complex form of comprehension.

How to help your student use this strategy:

Use questioning strategies such as, "How has your thinking changed from reading that piece?"

Discuss current events with an emphasis on judgments and opinions.

Ask questions with no clear answers.

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