12 Comprehension Strategies

 Keep scrolling to learn about the WHY, WHEN, HOW of:  Monitor/Clarify, Predict, Make Connections, Infer, Ask Questions, Summarize, Subtext, Visualize, Retell, Synthesize,  Nonfiction Text Features

The following is a compilation from numerous sources written by Mrs. Judy Araujo, M.Ed., CAGS.  Please site me when you use this.  Here is a pdf of the page:    

12 Comprehension Strategies



Why do we Monitor/Clarify?

  • To make sense of our reading

When do we Monitor/Clarify?

  • When the reading no longer makes sense
  • When we are stuck on a word’s meaning

How do we Monitor/Clarify?

  • Reread all around the word or area in question.  Make substitutions, use picture clues
  • Use your schema
  • Study the structure
  • Predict, infer, make connections, ask questions, summarize

PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web.<http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.


Why do we Predict?

  •  Gets our mind ready to read
  •  Gives us a purpose to read

When do we Predict?

  • Before and during reading

How do we Predict?

  • Think about title, look at cover and pictures
  • Think about the text structure
  • Use what you know
  • Ask questions ~ I wonder. . .,  Who is. . .,  Why is. . . .
  • Change your predictions as you read
  • Can be proven or not

PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web.  <http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.

Make Connections

Why do we Make Connections?

  • Reading is thinking!  Good readers make connections that are text to self, text to text, and text to world
  • To better predict and understand text because of what you already know  ~ how the characters feel,  what may happen based on another text. . . .
  • T-S means more to me because it reminds me of my own life.  Everyone has different schema and different experiences which can be shared to help us understand more

When do we Make Connections?

  • Before, during, and after reading
  • Make connections when you’re figuring out unknown words!
  • When we are reminded of a similar event
  • T-S :   That reminds me of . . .   I remember when . . .  I have a connection . . .  An experience I have had like that . . .  I felt like that character when . . .  If I were that character I would . . . .
  • T-T:

Content ~ I’ve read another book on this topic

Genre~ this is a “mystery” (etc.) like. . .

Author ~ this author always. . .

Illustrator ~ I recognize these pictures by. . .

Setting ~ ___________ took place at this location

Characters ~ she/he reminds me of. . .

Illustrations ~ remind me of . . .

Plot ~ this story is like. . .

Structure ~ this story has a literary device (like a flashback) like. . .

Theme ~ this book had the same lesson as . . .

Language ~ the writer’s language reminds me of. . .

Tone ~ this book has the same feel as. . .

  •  T-W on nonfiction ~ open your mental files and make connections between what you know and the new information

How do we Make Connections?

  • Chart connections.  What connections helped to understand the story, which didn’t?
  • Venn diagrams
  • Connect to the theme or main idea of the text
  • Start with “It helps me understand . . .”  (Character feelings, setting, events)
  • Activate prior knowledge before, during, and after reading
  • On nonfiction (T-W) make a KWL chart.  Do T-W with newspaper articles, too!
  • Use a double entry journal ~ one side is for key event, idea, word, quote, or content.  The other is for connections.
  • Always ask yourself “How does this connection help me understand the text?”

PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. <http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.


Why do we Infer?

  • Authors describe:   characters’ feelings, events, setting. . . we have to infer to understand
  • To draw conclusions, make predictions, and reflect on our reading
  • To determine the meanings of unknown words

When do we Infer?

  • Before, during, and after reading
  • In life, we infer with our 5 senses ~ What is making that noise?  What is cooking?  How is that person feeling?  What is this sharp object?  What does a cake with candles on it mean?
  • When the author doesn't answer my questions, I must infer by saying:  Maybe. . ., I think. . ., It could be. . ., It's because. . ., Perhaps. . ., It means that. . ., I'm guessing. . .

How do we Infer?

  • Look at the picture
  • Think about the characters’ behavior
  • Ask questions as you read.  Some of our questions are answered in the text, others are not and must be inferred.
  • We use our prior knowledge + text clues to draw conclusions

What do we Infer?

  • Meaning of unfamiliar words
  • Setting
  • Explanation for events
  • What the character is feeling
  • What pronouns refer to
  • Author’s message
  • Answers to our questions when they are not directly stated

Fun Inferring Practice!  Read these sentences, and have a discussion about the character and setting.  Next, draw conclusions, and make predictions!

  • Sue blew out the candles and got presents.
  • Mary plays her flute for two hours every day.
  • The boat drifted in the middle of the lake.
  • John ran into the street without looking.
  • Meg was the star pitcher, but she had a broken finger.
  • We bought tickets and some popcorn.
  • I forgot to set my alarm clock last night.
  • When I woke up, there were branches and leaves all over the yard.
  • Yesterday we cleaned out our desks and took everything home.
  • Everyone stopped when the referee blew the whistle.
PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. <http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.

Ask Questions

Why do we Ask Questions?

  • To clarify, wonder, determine author’s style or intent, to better understand, when the reading gets confusing, to monitor our reading, to synthesize new information, and to determine importance
  • To stay actively involved in the reading
  • To read with a purpose
  • To deepen comprehension (Thick vs. Thin Questions)

When do we Ask Questions?

  • Before, during, and after reading ~ just look at the cover and title and begin asking!
  • When you use the strategies:  Is my prediction good or do I need to change it?  What am I visualizing?  Do I need to change my mental image?  What’s happened so far?   Does this remind me of anything?
  • If we don’t have the background knowledge we need to ask more questions.
  • Hearing other people’s questions inspires more of our own questions.
  • As you read, does it make sense?
  • Just go outside ~ what questions do you have about nature?  What questions do you have about a painting or illustration?
  • To coincide with the Reading CAFE, ask yourself who/what each paragraph was about as a way to monitor your reading.  Reread if you cannot answer who/what.

How do we Ask Questions?

  • Start by using a wordless book ~ what questions do I have?
  • Before we read and as we read many of our questions are predictions.  Our “after the book has been read” questions are the most thought provoking.
  • Create an “I Wonder” chart before, during, and after the story.  Which questions were answered?  Which had to be inferred?
  • There are 3 types of questions ~ Predicting Questions move us forward, Monitor Questions pull us back, Thinking Questions makes us infer
  • Questions start with who, what, where, when, why, how, would, could, should, did
  • What happened?  Why did it happen?  Think about cause and effect.
  • Thick questions deepen our comprehension and thin questions can be found in the text
  • Questions can be related to the text  type ~ narrative, expository, technical, persuasive, or text structure ~  sequence, problem/solution, cause/effect, descriptive, compare/contrast
  • We use connections to help us make meaningful questions
  • Ask ~ What does my question do for my reading?
  • Begin with a KWL chart for nonfiction texts
  • Give students a list of answers.  THEY come up with the questions!

How do we answer Questions?

  •  A – answered in the text, BK – answered from someone’s background knowledge I – inferred, D – discussion, RS – research needed C- signals confusion
  • We also use our own interpretation, the pictures, and rereading

Types of Questions

  • Does the question start with: What did, Who did, How many, What was, Who are, What does ___ mean, Define, What kind ~ then the answer is RIGHT THERE
  • Does the question start with: How do you, How did, What, What happened to, What happened before/after, How many times, What examples, Where did ~ then I must THINK and SEARCH for the answer.  The answer is found in different parts of the story.  Words to create the question and answer are not in the same sentence.
  • Does the question start with:  Have you ever, If you could, If you were going to, In your opinion, Do you agree with, Do you know anyone who, How do you feel about ~ then you are ON YOUR OWN and you need to think about the answer.  The answer is NOT in the story.

Questions to think about

  • What is the author trying to tell us?
  • Why did the author write this book?
  • Is the title appropriate?  What is my evidence?
  • What did the character learn?
  • Who/what is each paragraph about?

View my Prezi:  https://prezi.com/-txoy3sc1xqw/copy-of-literature-lesson/

PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. <http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.



Why do we Summarize?

  • To identify and organize important information
  • To check understanding in a brief way
  • To find the main idea, and/or problem/solution
  • To put the story in order

When do we Summarize?

  • When reading, giving game instructions, talking quickly about our week-end, explaining newspaper articles. . .
  • Before, during, and after reading

How do we Summarize

  • In our own words
  • Before we read we preview to see how the text is organized by looking at cover, table of contents, illustrations
  • During reading we keep a graphic organizer and jot down what has happened
  • After reading we skim text and determine the most important parts in 3-5 sentences.  What can we leave out?  Use the graphic organizer to help
  • When it is nonfiction we use the text structure to create a summary:  descriptive, problem/solution, compare/contrast, sequential, main idea/detail, cause/effect
  • Pick out what’s necessary ~ title, captions, headings.  Cross out repeated items.  Highlight necessary ideas and key words, make a graphic organizer with key words and ideas for each paragraph, invent a topic sentence by using the first sentence of the text
  • Omit unimportant details

PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web.<http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.


What do we Subtext?

  • To understand perspectives and inner most thoughts of characters
  • To examine what the character is thinking, not saying
  • To comprehend the text more deeply

When do we Subtext?

  •  During reading

How do we Subtext?

  • Act out a character in a text by making personal connections and inferring the character’s thoughts by using the illustrations in the text
  • Become a character in a painting.  What are you thinking, feeling?
  • Write an advertisement for a product.  Who is your target audience?  What can you say to convince people to buy your product?
  • Subtext what various people think on the same issue.  For example ~ A child wanting candy thinks:  “It’s delicious!  It gives me energy!  It’s fun to eat!  I’ve been good!”  A mom may think:  “It’s bad for his teeth!  It’s supper time!  He’ll get sick!”  A store clerk would think:  “Buy the candy!  I need to make money!”  A doctor might think:  “He’s gaining too much weight.  Does he ever eat vegetables?”  An onlooker may think:  “What a mean mom.  One candy bar won’t hurt.” 

PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. <http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.

Visualize/Sensory Imagery

What do we Visualize?

  • Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, a football game on the radio, menu items, instructions, magazine articles, a vision from a song or nature cd. . . .
  • Visualize a birthday cake, sketch it, compare ~ no 2 sketches will be alike!

Authors rely on us to Visualize.  Why?  TO:

  • Keep us interested
  • Enhance understanding
  • Draw conclusions
  • Recall details and text after it has been read
  • Help us understand new words
  • Make texts personal and memorable
  • Form unique interpretations
  • Clarify
  • Help us when we write

When do we Visualize?

  • During and after reading
  • When there are no illustrations but WARNING:  illustrations can have an effect on our mental images.  Try covering the illustrations with post-it notes and use your own mental images
  • Our schema, or background knowledge, helps us visualize
  • Hearing other people describe their mental pictures changes our own

How do we Visualize?

  • Using our senses and emotions
  • Pay close attention to the adjectives and adverbs
  • Picturing the characters, setting, events
  • We infer meaning as we create images
  • Quickly sketch what you saw and compare ~ no two sketches are alike!
  • As you read, revise your images when new information is added

PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. <http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.



Why do we Retell?

  • To create a mental image in great detail to someone who was not there, or to someone who has not read the text
  • Learning to retell a story thoughtfully is critical to learning to write a story
  • To build comprehension

When do we Retell?

  • After reading or after an event (after a movie, vacation, week-end, etc.)

How do we Retell?

  •  Read the story 3x ~ (1st for impression, 2nd for detail, 3rd for comprehension)
  • Use retelling cards, small props, puppets, story guideline posters, and even the book to help as you learn to retell.
  • Tell the story. Don't memorize the author's words but develop a personal, storytelling voice.
  • Use an expressive voice.
  • Pick what is most important to tell.
  • Tell details in the right order.
  • Recall the story structure and formulate retelling around that
  • For Fiction:  beginning/middle/end, characters, setting, theme, plot episodes/events, resolution, sequence of events, in great detail the beginning, next, then, after that, in the end
  • For Nonfiction:  problem/solution, descriptive, compare/contrast, sequential, main idea/detail, cause/effect, use the table of contents to help

PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. <http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.


Why do we Synthesize/Evaluate?

  • Our thinking evolves
  • We infer
  • We connect to a larger and more meaningful whole by finding the “big idea”
  • To see relationships between ideas ~ do we agree or disagree with the author?  Why?
  • Makes the reading more memorable

When do we Synthesize/Evaluate?

  • When there is something to think about, such as an unfamiliar point of view, new information, a new theme
  • When making connections
  • Before, during and after reading
  • Before:  What connections am I making?  What does the author want to teach me?  What is the message going to be?  What am I thinking?
  • During:  Now what do I wonder?  What are my connections?   How have my opinions, ideas, feelings, and thoughts about the characters, ideas, or problems in the reading change?
  • After:  What did the authors want me to learn?  What was the theme?  How have my ideas, thoughts, and feelings about the characters, ideas, or problems change?  What visual images will I remember?  What thought will I take with me?

How do we Synthesize/Evaluate? 

  • By filling in these blanks:
  1. At first I thought but now I think . . . .
  2. At first I felt but now I feel . . . .
  3. I have been changed by this text in this way. . . .
  4. From reading this text I will remember. . . .
  5. The theme in this text was. . . .
  6. An “aha” I got from the reading was. . . .
  7. A light bulb went on in my head and I realized. . . .
  8. My opinion on this topic now is. . . .
  9. I will remember the visual I built in my mind for. . . .
  10. I now agree/disagree with the author because. . . .
  11. I feel the author's style is. . . .
  • Start by synthesizing fables
  • Use your schema or background knowledge

PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. <http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.

Nonfiction Text Features

Why do we read Nonfiction?

  • To learn
  • To build a better home/school connection ~ nonfiction resembles parent interests and will spark a conversation between parent and child
  • A great way to learn about the reading strategies

When do we read Nonfiction?

  • To get information
  • When we have questions about the world
  • Start reading nonfiction at a young age!

Examples of Predictable Features of Nonfiction ~ each child should create a journal giving examples of each.  Spend one day on each convention:

  • Table of contents helps reader to find key topics in the text in order
  • Types of print helps reader by signaling what is important
  • Headings/subtitles helps reader determine what is important
  • Maps help reader understand where things are in the world
  • Cutaways help reader understand something by looking at it from the inside
  • Comparisons help reader understand the size of one thing by comparing it to the size of something familiar
  • Captions help the reader understand a picture or photograph
  • Photographs help reader understand exactly what something looks like
  • Labels help reader identify a picture or photograph and its parts
  • Tables help reader understand important information by seeing it listed in a table or chart form
  • Glossary helps reader understand key words in text
  • Index helps reader by showing an alphabetical listing with page numbers to find information
  • Close-ups help reader see details

How do we read Nonfiction? 

  • First, build and activate prior knowledge to get ready to learn/make predictions
  • Learn the new vocabulary in context ~ engage learner through photographs or artifacts and student questions, explore through graphic organizers, develop through dramatization and analogies, and apply through a project
  • KWL charts:  what do I know, what questions do I want answered, what have I learned ~ synthesize the information for yourself and others
  • Make connections
  • Recognize text structure:  problem/.solution. descriptive, compare/contrast, sequential, main idea/detail, cause/effect
  • You don’t need to read nonfiction in order
  • Reread and paraphrase
  • Skim (very rapid reading of whole text in order to grasp sense of main idea and some supporting details ~ goal is to get a quick sense of the entire piece, as the reading progresses concentrate only on key sentences and phases, concentrate on last paragraph which is a summary)
  • Scan (quick location of material, forms a mental image of key words and phrases)
  • Highlight important information to remember/use sticky notes
  • Start by reading biographies
  • Take notes of main ideas and details

PLEASE CITE ME:  Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web.<http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.




Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed, CAGS. "12 Comprehension Strategies." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 4 May 2012. Web. <http://www.mrsjudyaraujo.com/reasons-for-using-strategies/>.

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