September 20

URI Reflections


Strategic Readers

Often we look at young students who can sound out words effectively and think, “My, what a good reader.” Parents often fall into this idea as well because they do not realize good reading involves thinking on many levels. Good readers are strategic readers. By this I mean these students have a “toolkit” full of many strategies they can use and adapt to fit their reading need. Using a list of strategies adapted from Duke & Pearson (2002) Effective Practices for Developing Reading Comprehension a strategic readers toolkit would allow them the skills to:

  • Set goals for their reading
  • Constantly evaluate what they read
  • Look over the text before reading
  • Make predictions based on their overview
  • Read selectively
  • Find meaning for unfamiliar words
  • Activate their prior knowledge
  • Ask questions about authors
  • Monitor their understanding and adjust
  • Construct summaries.

Less strategic readers seem to lack the metacognitive awareness to choose strategies appropriate to their need and apply them to aid in their comprehension. Goal setting for their reading tends to be difficult and therefore they cannot consider how to best read a particular genre of text. Lack of prior knowledge could also play a role in comprehension of less strategic readers as they struggle to connect ideas within text.

Through the work of Dr. John Guthrie and his Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction program, struggling readers are becoming engaged readers with the combination of motivating subject matter, strategies for reading and learning and social interaction. “CORI combines skills and strategies, knowledge, motivation, and social collaboration to build more knowledge.” (Guthrie & Anderson, 1999; Guthrie, Anderson, Alao, & Rinehart, 1999). They, like Duke & Pearson, acknowledge that good, engaged readers set goals, reflect on prior knowledge, ask questions, and find answers as they work through text to make meaning. They ask, “How do we create an enthusiasm and love for learning among our students?” Often this lack of enthusiasm leads to lack of motivation¬† which is an essential aspect of being a strategic reader. Their CORI program combines the teaching/modeling of strategies such as setting a purpose, thinking aloud and asking questions, with the building of conceptual knowledge for greater understanding, along with social interactions to discuss their reading into a framework that motivates students to become engaged readers at all ages.


Connections I have gathered through the reading of this week’s text relate to how reading instruction is taking place and how each identifies reading in a social context. As mentioned above, the CORI program incorporates teaching strategies for comprehension much like those of Reciprocal Teaching outlined in Duke & Pearson (2002) Effective Practices for Developing Reading Comprehension. Within their text they state, “reciprocal teaching involves a gradual release of responsibility from teacher to student for carrying out each part of the routine.” In this case they are referring to targeted comprehension strategies such as making predictions. In chapter 2 of Johnson’s Reading, Writing and Literacy 2.0 Internet Reciprocal Teaching is referenced as an effective instructional routine. “Reciprocal teaching takes the form of a dialogue between teachers and students around sections of text. The dialogue is structured by the use of four strategies: summarizing, questioning, clarifying and predicting” (Johnson, pg. 24). It has been adapted to incorporate internet based text and builds on the same idea of gradual release of responsibility to students for discussion and sharing strategies.

Within our school district we have implemented a k-12 Response to Intervention program. One of the roles of our literacy coaches in this program is to provide instruction to teachers on more systematic approaches to teaching reading. They have working with teachers on the model of Reciprocal Teaching. This process seems like a natural way to teach, but for some teachers it is difficult to complete the actual release. For our schools it is work in progress with results yet to be seen.

The readings this week also make connections to the process of reading being social. Swan states, “Engaged readers are socially interactive. They share knowledge and resources. Social interaction about reading leads to increased amounts of reading.” Johnson identifies, “The context in which students learn is much more than a classroom setting.” With the advent of digital texts such as wikis, blogs and social media platforms, we must consider how, “the social context influences the text, the reader, and the reading activity” (Johnson, pg.13).

My own teaching experiences have proven to me that students who read with the purpose of sharing information in a social way, retain and comprehend more. In the example I shared about the use of video conferencing for students to collaborate with another class to teach them information about the French and Indian War, my students were motivated to read more because they had to be “experts” of this information. They read for the purpose of finding answers to questions they created. This led to great retention of information. When these students first shared their conference, they were in eighth grade. In 10th grade, I gathered them back together to ask if they could present this conference again because I had a request from a school in North Carolina to do so. With only a quick review, they were able to recall what they had presented over two years ago. To me that proves comprehension.


The implications from these readings most relevant to my work comes when we begin to think about how our students interact with digital text and how to best assist them in doing this effectively. In my role as Technology Coordinator and Instructional Coach, I have the ability to affect great change if given the opportunity. Often my role is thought to be more tech support than tech integration. Teachers use their lcd projectors and document cameras on a daily basis to display media onto a whiteboard. This looks like tech integration, but really just is a substitute for an overhead projector. Reading instruction takes on the same form that it has for many years in most classrooms. With our RTI program, the literacy coaches make a great effort at assisting teachers with the development of strategies to increase comprehension with little regard to how students are comprehending digital text. I believe our two coaching worlds need to converge so that, “Students employ technology thoughtfully to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, listening¬† and language use” (Johnson pg. 16).

Common Core standards are now making curriculum directors think differently about how technology tools should be integrated into ELA instruction. As a result a shift in my work has begun and I am asked more often to collaborate with teachers when planning to create lessons that have students using technology to produce work that assists with their comprehension. I often coteach with them and demonstrate lessons that show ways to incorporate higher order thinking skills. Just as teachers use a gradual release model with their students, I do much of the same for them when assisting them with technology. They have to learn how the tech tool aids with student outcomes, not with how it makes them appear as if they are integrating technology. “True technology integration comes from understanding and negotiating the relationships among curriculum, instructional strategies and technology to achieve a ‘just right’ fit that deepens and extends student learning (Koehler & Mishra, 2008). Looks like I have my work cut out for me!