Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 370, Chapter 10: Reading Comprehension

Scaffolding the Development and Use of Comprehension Strategies

Scaffolding instruction means that teachers model strategies step-by-step and explicitly demonstrate the processes of thinking before, during, and after one reads. Next, teachers provide the students with guided practice in the strategies, followed by independent practice and application.

Active Comprehension and Asking Questions

A common comprehension strategy is to have students answer questions about what is read. These questions include:

  • Literal questions: students answer by using information stated in the text
  • Inferential questions: students answer by using the background knowledge along with the information from the text
  • Evaluative questions: students answer by making judgements about what they read

When students are engaged in a process of generating questions and making connections throughout reading, they are involved in active comprehension.

Reciprocal Questioning (ReQuest)

ReQuest encourages students to ask their own questions about the material being read.

Question-Answer Relationships (QARs)

QARs help learners know what information sources are available for seeking answers to different types of text questions. QARs enhance student’s ability to answer comprehension questions by teaching them how to find information they need to answer questions. The first information source in the text. The second source in the reader.

Questioning the Author (QtA)

QtA demonstrates the kinds of questions students need to ask in order to think more deeply and construct meaning about segments of text as they read. Students learn that authors are fallible and may not always express ideas in the easiest was for readers to understand.

Reciprocal Teaching

Reciprocal teaching is an approach to scaffolding reading comprehension in which teachers introduce four strategies, model the strategies, and gradually encourage independent use of the strategies in small groups as students take on the role of the teacher. The four strategies are:

  1. Predicting what the text is about
  2. Raising questions about the text
  3. Summarizing the text
  4. Clarifying difficult vocabulary and concepts


Think-alouds is a strategy in which teachers and students share their thoughts, discuss what they wonder about and what confuses them, and make connections as they are reading. One of the best times to do think-alouds is when the teacher is reading a story out loud.

Developing Readers’ Awareness of Story Structure

Stories are central to student’s reading development. Student’s knowledge of stories begins to develop at an early age.

Mapping a Story for Instructional Purposes

Story maps are a way of identifying major structural elements, both explicit and implicit, underlying a story to be taught in class. Structural elements include setting, characters, and the problem/solution and the steps it took between the two.


Building a Schema for Stories

Some activities to build schemas for stories are: read, tell, and perform stories in class; show relationships between story parts (flow charts work best); reinforce story knowledge through instructional activities. Some of the instructional activities include:

  • Macrocloze stories are similar to cloze passages except that the teacher removes single words, sentences, or even whole paragraphs from a story.
  • Scrambled stories are a story separated into its parts and jumbled
  • Story frames provide the student with a skeletal paragraph: a sequence of spaces tied together with transition words and connectors that signal a line of thought
  • Circular story maps use pictures to depict the sequence of events leading to the problem of the story

Guiding Interactions Between Reader and Text

Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA)

DR-TA involves readers in the process of predicting, verifying, judging, and extending thinking about the text material.


KWL is a three-step teaching plan designed to guide and to motivate students as they read to acquire information from the text. K – What do you know? W – What do you want to find out? L – What did you learn?

Discussion Webs

Discussion webs require students to explore both sides of an issue during discussion before drawing conclusions. In the center of the web is a question. The question reflects more than one point of view. Students explore the pros and cons of the question in the No and Yes columns of the web.

Story Impressions

Story impressions is the name of a strategy that helps students anticipate what stories could be about. Fragments from the story, in the form of clue words, enable readers to form an overall impression of how the characters and events interact in the story.

Text Connections

Text connections can be thought of in three ways:

  • Text-to-Self: This is a text connection that asks the students to share what a piece of fiction or nonfiction text reminds them of personally
  • Text-to-Text: This is a text connection that asks the students to recall another text that reminds them of the one they are reading
  • Text-to-World: This type of connection is more inferential in nature because it asks the students to make connections beyond the story

Vacca, J. L., Vacca, R. T., & Gove, M. K. (2012). Reading and learning to read (8th ed.). New York: Longman.

Classroom Application

Something that I really liked from this chapter was having the students come up with questions to enhance their comprehension. This is something I would like to use with the student I am tutoring as well in my classroom someday. This is a different technique to work on comprehension that I wouldn’t have thought of. I also like the text connections because this allows the student to relate what they are reading to something they already know.

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