Alatorre-Parks, L.  (2001).  Aligning student interests with district mandates.  The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 44. 330-332.

Allen, J. (2002).  On the same page: Shared reading beyond the primary grades.

Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Alvermann, D., & Phelps, S.  (1998).  Content reading and literacy:  Succeeding in today’s diverse classrooms.

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Baumann, J. F., Jones, L. A., & Seifert-Kessell, N. (1993).  Using think alouds to enhance children’s comprehension monitoring abilities.  The Reading Teacher, 47, 184-193.

Berninger, V. W., & Richards, T. L. (2002).  Brain literacy for educators and psychologists.  Amsterdam: Academic Press.

Betts, E. A. (1946). Foundations of reading instruction with emphasis on differentiated guidance.  New York: American Book Company.

Brown, A. L., Campione, J. C., & Day, J. D. (1981).  Learning to learn: On training students to learn from texts.  Educational Researcher, 10(2), 14-12.

Bruer, J. T. (1993).  The mind’s journey from novice to expert: If we know the route, we can help students negotiate their way.  American Educator, 17(2), 38-46.

Bryan, J.  (1998).  K-W-W-L:  Questioning the known.  The Reading Teacher, 51.  618-620.

Burns, A.  (2004).  Weaving comprehension strategies into double-entry journals.  The California Reader, 37(4), 20-26.

Carter, C. J. (1997).  Why reciprocal teaching? Educational Leadership, 54(6), 64-68.

Cazden, C. B. (2001).  Classroom discourse: The language of teaching and learning.

Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Chamot, A. U., & O’Malley, J. M. (1994).  The CALLA handbook: Implementing the cognitive academic language learning approach. 

Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Chapman, C., & King, R. (2003). Differentiated instructional strategies for reading in the content areas. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Holum, A. (1991).  Cognitive apprenticeship: Making thinking visible. American Educator, 6(11), 38-46.

Cunningham, J. W., Cunningham, P. M, & Arthur, S. V. (1981).  Middle and secondary school reading. New York: Longman.

Davidson, M. (1996).  Balto, The Dog who Saved Nome.

New York: Scholastic.

Davis, D. (2004). Improving adolescent reading: Findings from research. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

Dechant, E. (1991).  Understanding and teaching reading: An interactive model.  Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Dreher, S. (2003).  A novel idea: Reading aloud in a high school English classroom. English Journal, 93, 50-53.

Duffelmeyer, F.A., Baum, D.D., & Merkley, D.J. (1987). Maximizing reader-text confrontation with an extended anticipation guide. Journal of Reading, 31, 146-150.

Dufflemeyer, F. A. & Baum, D. D. (1992).  The extended anticipation guide, revisited.  Journal of Reading, 35, 654-656.

Dufflemeyer, F. A. (1994).  Effective anticipation guide statements for learning from expository prose.  Journal of Reading, 37, 452-457.

Eby, J. (1998).   Reflective Planning, Teaching, and Evaluation, K-12 (2nd ed.).

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Egan, M.  (1999).  Reflections on effective use of graphic organizers.  The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 42, 641-645.

Fisher, D., Brozo, W., Frey, N., & Ivey, G. (2007).  Fifty content area strategies for adolescent literacy.

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Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Williams, D. (2002).  Seven literacy strategies that work. Educational Leadership, 60(3), 70-73.

Freire, P. (1970).  Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th anniversary ed.).

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Fry, E. (2004).  Four phonics frequency tables.  The California Reader, 37(4), 36-43.

Gardner, H. (2006).  Changing minds: The art and science of changing our own and other people’s minds.


Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Grave, B., & Graves, M.  (1995). Harness motivation with a scaffolded reading experience.  The California Reader, 29(1), 28-31.

Haggard, M. R. (1988).  Developing critical thinking with the directed reading-thinking activity.  The Reading Teacher, 41, 526-531.

Harvey, W. F. (1910). August Heat. Midnight house and other tales.  London, UK: J. M. Dent.

Hayes, D. A. (1989).  Helping students GRASP the knack of writing summaries.  Journal of Reading, 33(2), 96-101.

Hemingway, E. (1952). The old man and the sea.

London, UK: Jonathan Cape.

Jacobs, W. W. (1902). The monkey’s paw. Harper’s Monthly, 105, 634-639.

Johnston, F.  R. (1993).  Improving student response in DR-TAs and DL-TAs.  The Reading Teacher, 46, 448-449.

MacLachlan, P. (1985). Sarah, Plain and Tall.

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Malcolm X. (1997). Hair

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Mandeville, T. (1994).  KWLA:  Linking the affective and cognitive domains.  The Reading Teacher, 47. 679-680.

Marks, M., Pressley, M., Coley, J. D., Craig, S., Gardner, R., DePinto, T., et al. (1993).  Three teachers’ adaptations of reciprocal teaching in comparison to traditional reciprocal teaching.  The Elementary School Journal, 94, 267-283.

Ogle, D., & Carr, E.  (1987).  K-W-L plus:  A strategy for comprehension and summarization.  Journal of Reading, 30, 626-631.

Ogle, D.  (1986).  K-W-L:  A teaching model that develops active reading of expository text.  The Reading Teacher, 39, 564-570.

Oldfather, P. (195).  Commentary: What’s needed to maintain and extend the motivation for literacy in the middle grades. Journal of Reading, 38, 420-422.

Palincsar, A. S. & Brown. A. L. (1984).  Reciprocal teaching of comprehension-fostering and comprehension-monitoring activities.  Cognition and Instruction, 1, 117-175.

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology.

New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Raphael, T. E. (1984).  Teaching learners about sources of information for answering questions.  Journal of Reading, 27, 303-311.

Raphael, T. E. (1986).  Teaching question-answer relationships, revisited. The Reading Teacher, 39, 516-520.

Ridgeway, V. G.  (1999).  A view from the other side:  A [former] science teacher speaks out.  Presentation at the 44th annual convention of the International Reading Association, San Diego, CA.  6 May.

Rosenshine, B., & Meister, C. (1994).  Reciprocal teaching: A review of the research.  Review of Educational Research, 64, 479-530.

Ross, P., & McDaniel, C. (2004). The impact of clinical experience on the reading comprehension instruction of K-12 inservice teachers.  Yearbook of the National Reading Conference, 53, 321-341.

Ryder, R. J., & Graves, M. F. (2003).  Reading and learning in content areas (3rd ed.).  New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Sagor, R. (2000).  Guiding school improvement with action research.

Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Schmidt, P.  (1999).  KWLQ:  Inquiry and literacy learning in science.  The Reading Teacher, 52. 789-792.

Sippola, A. (1995).  K-W-L-S.  The Reading Teacher, 48, 6, 542-543.

Stauffer, R. G. (1969).  Teaching reading as a thinking process.  New York: Harper and Row, Publishers.

Strickland, D. (1998).  What’s basic in beginning reading? Finding common ground. Educational Leadership, 55, 6-10.

Tompkins, G. (2003).  Literacy for the 21st century (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

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Walker, B. J. (2005).  Thinking aloud: Struggling readers often require more than a model.  The Reading Teacher, 58, 688-692.

Wilhelm, J. D. (1999).  Think-alouds boost reading comprehension.  Instructor, 111(4), 26-28.

Wilhelm, J. D. (2001).  Getting kids into the reading game: You gotta know the rules.  Voices from the Middle, 8(4), 25-36.

Wilson, E.  (1997).  A trip to historic Philadelphia on the Web.  Social Education, 61(3), 170-172.

25:Hot Seat

The Hot Seat is a cooperative learning strategy that fosters learning from predictions.  In hot seat, students adopt the persona of a character in literature or history then answer questions from the character’s perspective.

Step by Step: Hot Seat

  1. Divide the class into groups of 3 to 5 students.
  2. Each student selects or is assigned a character whose persona he or she will adopt.
  3. Group members create questions based on their understanding of the story or text to be asked of the other characters in the group.
  4. Then, in turn, each character responds to question posed by other members of the group. A two minute time limit is suggested.
  5. As a clarification strategy, students might write down their predictions and points of confusion and use these as a basis for the questions they have for other members of the group. By focusing their questions toward specific characters represented by group members, students also increasingly bring to bear what they know about the characters to help them reduce their uncertainty about the content.
  6. While this strategy is very useful in the study of fiction, it is adaptable to other content areas, as well. During or after reading an appropriate text about the U. S. Civil War battle at Antietam, students might engage in a hot seat activity to examine the perspectives of President Lincoln, President Davis of the Confederate South, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and Union General George McClellan.  In science, students could assume roles of a stem cell researcher, a politician in favor of such research, a politician who opposes the research, and a person who might benefit from stem cell research.

Sitting in the Hot Seat requires a student to experience a work of literature or historical perspective from a different point of view, thus assisting students to clarify or refine what they know through social interaction. To facilitate implementation of this strategy, consider these modifications:

  1. Allow students to work in groups to brainstorm possible questions. Their questions might focus on recalling the story or on speculating about a character’s emotions or motivation to act as they do.
    2. Put students into “expert” character groups so they can share their ideas about characters.
    3. Use puppets, character masks, and living murals to liven up the activity.

Applications and Examples

Ms. Marla Green uses Hot Seat to help her students understand the characters in the novel Bud, Not Buddy (Curtis, 2002). In her own words:

The characters that are the focus for this hot seat are:  Bud, Toddy Amos and Mrs. Amos.  Students will take on the roles of each character in a small group then a whole class discussion follows. We will have several completely different views.  Through Hot Seat, students will be able to think about predictions they made about Mrs. Amos’ statement: “Lord knows I have been stung by my own people before.  But take a good look at me because I am one person who is totally fed up with you and your ilk.  I do not have time to put up with the foolishness of those members of our race who do not want to be uplifted.” (Curtis, 2002, pp.14-15) or why Todd beats the heck out of Bud.

Curtis, C. P. (2002) Bud, Not Buddy. New York, NY: Aladdin.

Marla Green, Kelso School District, Kelso, Washington.

23:Metacognitive Double-Entry Journals

Journals and note-taking strategies help students organize their thoughts, provide a reference for later study, and afford an opportunity to think about a concept on the reader’s (or thinker’s) own terms.  However, teachers notice that the journals students write sometimes lack substance or higher levels of cognitive activity.  In section 2.3 we explored a double-entry journal that directs students’ attention toward the features of the text.  Here, you’ll learn about a metacognitive double-entry journal which provides a form of support that helps students realize that different types of cognitive activity occur during reading (Burns, 2004).  As students write their double-entry journals, they follow a traditional procedure of placing their direct observations from the story in one column (note-taking) and their comments on the opposite side (note-making) (See Figure 23.1).

However, after extensive modeling, students also learn to code their journals in the left-hand margin with a number which corresponds to one of six strategies (see Table 23.1).  You will see that strategy number four asks students to make focal predictions about word meanings, strategy two asks students to make global predictions about events in the text and how they relate to each other, strategy five asks students to make inferences, and strategy three asks students to think about questions that can lead to predictions and clarifications as they read.

[Insert Table 23.1 about here]

Step by Step

  1. Select an appropriate text passage and use a think-aloud protocol to model for students how each strategy is identified as you read, how to take notes in the left-hand column, and how to make notes in the right-hand column. Then model how to code the strategy in the margin.  Each note-taking entry in the double-entry journal also includes the page number and sentence from the text that prompted the student to write the entry.
  2. Have students try this on their own. Small group work may make this technique manageable for students who struggle with the concept of identifying the strategy; e. g., guessing a word meaning, predicting what happens next, etc.

Applications and examples

When Dr. Burns first implemented the metacognitive double-entry journal with her fourth-grade students, she found that they often struggled with the process of slowing down the reading process to record their thoughts in the journal.  Student also recorded shorter sentences instead of working with the ideas in longer sentences because they did not want to write down the longer sentences.  As a result, she modified her strategy to allow students to simply record the page number where the passage that prompted the metacognitive realization appeared.  In order to make the tool comprehensible for her students, she also changed the term “note-taking” to “What the story says” and the term “note-making” to “What I think.”

[Insert Figures 23.1a & b about here]

Tiffany, a third-grade student in Dr. Burns’ class, created this double-entry metacognitive journal for Balto, The Dog Who Saved Nome

(Davidson, 1996) (Figure 23.1a).

22:Anticipation Guides

Children have a lot on their minds; there is so much to learn that the powerful cognitive function of making inferences can be quite helpful, and not just from reading, either.  In their early lives, children observe as much as they can from their siblings, parents, playground experiences, teachers, and a multitude of other people and events.  From these observations, children make inferences that help them explain and understand the world, develop a framework for dealing with it, and perhaps theories the give that world and their lives in it purpose and meaning. Inferences, as we’ve noted in other sections of this book, are characteristic of good thinking habits.  Here’s a secret:  sometimes our inferences and mental representations (Gardner, 2006) are incorrect or only partially correct.  Children, like the adults around them, work from such inferences and representations all the time.  What children do with those constructs, and what teachers do to facilitate the process, is the real business of education.  Teachers are in the business of changing minds.  Gardner

suggests that changes of mind may be of two types: deepening one’s mental representations and transformation of the existing representations.

Anticipation is the emotion most often associated with prediction.  The anticipation guide (Dufflemeyer, Baum, & Merkley, 1987) is a classroom structure with the potential to use prediction as a foundation for confronting the mental representations that exist as background and prior knowledge.  Further, the anticipation guide may assist the thinking reader with deepening of existing mental representations or with a transformation of those structures.  Once confronted, a thinker can purposefully construct new representations based on the new information presented.  An anticipation guide is essentially a set of statements with which a student can agree or disagree or note as likely or unlikely during prereading.  Once this existing knowledge is activated, students then read the text with the purpose of accommodating new information that differs from the existing knowledge.  Once students realize that they must construct a new mental representation, a during or after reading opportunity should be provided for students to determine the compatibility of their pre-existing knowledge with that presented in the text.

Effective anticipation guides require some preparation and knowledge of students’ existing knowledge.  The most daunting task for the teacher is in preparation of the statements to which students will respond.  Statements used on anticipation guides may be flawed in three important ways (Dufflemeyer, 1994): 1). Students lack sufficient existing knowledge about the topic to form any reasoned judgment—remember we are promoting a change of mind, 2). The statement is based on ideas subordinate to major concepts—remember that new knowledge is constructed in the context of existing knowledge, and 3). The statement is common knowledge among students.  To that end, effective statements convey major ideas, activate and draw upon students’ existing knowledge, are general in nature, and challenge students’ current mental representations.

Step by Step

  1. Review the text or other instructional material to identify the major concepts represented therein.
  2. Construct a series of statements, some supported by the text and others that are not, keeping in mind the principles of statement generation discussed above. Include a place for students to check whether they agree or disagree or whether a statement is likely or unlikely to be verified by the text. In most contexts, avoiding true and false options is preferable.
  3. Present the statements to students prior to reading. The statements, an anticipation guide, may be presented on a data projector, as a handout, or printed on a chalkboard.  Some teachers tally student responses as a means of fostering discussion (Ryder & Graves, 2003); others ask students to compare responses with a partner (Fisher et al., 2007).
  4. Students read the text. As they do so, they should attempt to determine if their initial responses are supported by the material or if the materials suggests that the response should be changed.
  5. After students finish reading, ask them to respond again to the statement using the response option (agree/disagree, likely/unlikely); they should also be asked to explain why their initial responses were or were not supported encouraging them to confront the compatibility of pre-existing mental representations with what is in the text. This is often done in writing as part of an extended anticipation guide (Dufflemeyer & Baum, 1992).  Teachers may choose to re-tally student responses to foster discussion among class members or ask students to compare revised responses with a partner or in a small group, again supporting the revised opinion based on the reading.  We suggest that students may benefit if encouraged to find additional sources to support or push back against the text under consideration.

Applications and Examples

Mrs. Trish Schafer uses the anticipation guide to deepen students’ knowledge and challenge beliefs that might otherwise hinder learning about ancient river civilizations.  Notice that she returns to the anticipation guide after reading and provides students with an opportunity to use the text to support their new understanding.

Figure 22.1 In her own words, Tricia Sents Schafer, Camden High School, Camden, New York

The textbook is broken into four sections; each section teaches students about a different ancient empire. Throughout our study of early civilizations we focus on how geography influenced the development of each unique civilization, and how later empires borrowed ideas from earlier empires. Thus far, my ninth-grade class has studied the Sumerian Civilization of Mesopotamia. As we begin our study of ancient Egypt, I will consistently refer back to ancient Sumer, so students can compare and contrast the technology, belief systems, inventions, government, and geography of these two civilizations. In order to prepare my students to read about the effects the Nile River had on Egyptian civilization, I created an anticipation guide. The guide includes five statements based on the reading assignment. My ninth-grade students will read each statement, and agree or disagree with each statement. In addition, students will be asked to justify their responses with a simple explanation as to whether they agreed or disagreed (Figure 22.2).

After completing the anticipation guide students will share their answers to the questions in their small groups and discuss why they agreed or disagreed with the statements. Based on our previous study of ancient Sumer students might recall that floods are not always destructive. In fact, yearly flooding allowed the Sumerians to farm in the middle of the desert. The floods would wash rich deposits of black silt onto the river banks, and the Sumerians used this soil to fertilize their fields. Thus, it follows students may generalize that a certain amount of flooding is necessary in order to be able to farm in the desert. In Sumer, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers were unpredictable; therefore, dikes were built to prevent villages from being flooded. Students may believe this is always true of floods. However, as students read the paragraphs I will assign, they will discover that in ancient Egypt the flooding of the Nile was quite predictable and allowed them to establish a yearly cycle of flood, plant, harvest.

Students will be asked to read a section of the text about ancient Egypt. After reading the section students will revisit their anticipation guide and change any of their answers that may have been wrong. Students will return to their small groups for discussion and to support their changed responses.

Figure 2.2   Weather Conditions

21:Graphic Organizers

Well-known lesson structures call for teachers to plan what must be done in advance of a lesson that calls for reading (pre-reading, before reading), what must be done to guide students during reading of challenging texts, and what must be done after the reading in order to focus, remediate, or extend students’ understanding of a text passage (e. g., Betts, 1946; Dechant, 1991; Graves & Graves, 1995; Vacca & Vacca, 2005).  Graphic organizers fit into the pre-reading, during reading, after reading model quite well, but as we have asserted in other parts of this book, we encourage teachers to use these tools with precision. A teacher who knows why a specific graphic organizer is appropriate and where it best works in the lesson plan as it relates to the reading students encounter is far more effective in encouraging the cognitive practices students need.  The KWL (Ogle, 1986) example in section is a good example of a graphic organizer, thoughtfully deployed.  The organizer helps students think about what they know in advance of reading (or other instructional input) and then predict what they may learn as a result.  Just as important, the KWL structure calls for students and teacher to return to the graphic organizer to make further sense of the material that was completed after reading is done.

However, other graphic organizers may be similarly useful.  The well-known Venn diagram is an example.  Students might complete a Venn diagram using background and prior knowledge in advance of reading that requires students to compare two different concepts, characters, or sets of information. A comparison matrix may point students in a direction that provides more depth to their thinking. Used in this manner, a graphic organizer may serve to help students make good predictions before or during reading.  Similarly, the graphic organizer might assist students to clarify predictions they made earlier during reading or after they have finished a selection from the text.

Using the organization students have imposed on their existing knowledge, students might then read a text passage with the intention of returning to the Venn diagram to reconstruct their knowledge given the new information they have obtained from their reading.  As students become proficient at using graphics to impose an organizational pattern on what they learn, teachers should gradually release responsibility for choosing and perhaps creating a suitable graphic organizer to assist in the learning process.  Students should know not just that they are required by their teachers to complete a graphic organizer; they should have an explicit understanding of why they use the organizer and why a particular organizer is selected.

Step by Step

  1. Choose a suitable graphic organizer that represents the organization pattern of the text students will read. Determine if it will work most efficiently at the pre-reading, during reading, or after reading phases of a lesson that includes reading material.  To encourage prediction, students might be asked to activate existing knowledge (sections 2.5 and 2.6) before they begin reading and use the graphic to give order to the material.  A blank or partially completed graphic supplied by the teacher may be required to appropriately scaffold the students’ experiences.  Students might also add to a graphic during reading if the length and complexity of the text suggests this approach.
  2. Assist students to determine why you have chosen a specific graphic organizer before or during reading. Doing so after reading may also be appropriate.  In this way, students learn to detect the organizational patterns of the text (see section 2.3) through scaffolding questions.
  3. As students become increasingly proficient with the use of the graphic organizers, permit them to choose the graphic organizer that seems most appropriate after previewing the material and examining headings, charts, and diagrams (see section 2.2). In this way, students learn to predict with increasing accuracy what they will learn and adjust their thinking when new concepts are encountered more frequently.

Applications and Examples

Sometimes what students believe to be so and what actually is so can create conflict in the mind that must be resolved if learning is to occur.  Students might believe that waves indicate that water is in motion, moving toward shore then away from shore.  A direct observation seems to confirm this idea.  But this rather evident conclusion is not correct.  The movement of the water is up and down, roughly perpendicular to the floor of the ocean floor underneath.  Scientists call this a transverse wave, and readers of this book might picture (visualization in section 2.12, remember) two people holding opposite ends of a rope with one person moving it rapidly up and down creating a wave in the string.  Notice that the string doesn’t move from one person to the other with the wave; instead the waves move up and down.  Waves on a beach do much the same thing.

A longitudinal wave, by contrast, moves in parallel to the medium which conducts it.  A sound wave is a good example of such a wave.  Now, suppose that you have a science text that describes these two-wave phenomenon.  In addition, you know that your students might believe, by generalization and observation, that the medium (like the water) moves along with the wave.  Before the students read the science text that describes these two types of waves, you will need to make several instructional decisions.  First, consider students’ background knowledge about waves.  What about that knowledge will need to change as a result of the learning activities including reading?  Second, how is the text organized?  Does it describe the transverse wave in one section followed by another section that describes the longitudinal wave?  If so, a graphic organizer (Figure 21.1a) might be in order that calls students’ attention to this structure before they begin reading.  Note that students can create this graphic organizer by folding a piece of blank paper into fourths saving the teacher time standing in front of the copy machine.

Figure 21.1: In his own words

Primary grade teachers often employ a technique termed the word sort.  Word sorts employ a simple graphic organizer, too.  Readers who have used a word sort to assist student learning to read or with spelling patterns recognize the graphic nature of the word sort right away.  But, you say, isn’t this book about prediction?  And, you’re right.  Word sorts are powerful tools that help students to make predictions about words.   A teacher who wants students to learn about the different correspondences between letters and sounds for the long /e/ might construct a graphic organizer like Figure 21.2.  As students work through words pronounced for them or presented on index cards, students must decide where to write the word to match the spelling pattern.  When students recognize the spelling pattern they are more able to predict unknown words they encounter in reading and to predict the spelling of words they have not encountered in print before.


The cliffhanger is most often associated with television series when one season ends with some shocking event that leaves the viewer wondering what happened.  It is a plot device that begs the viewer (or, in our case, the reader) to predict what is going to happen next.  If you are in our generation, you will remember the season when everyone wanted to know “Who shot JR?” Many authors of extended texts also use this technique, too. Readers can detect this structure and create a sense of excitement about what might happen next as they read. As with other cognitive strategies described in this book, teachers can employ them to enhance what students mentally do as they read. When employing this classroom structure, note how prediction interacts with other cognitive strategies.  Want to know how to implement cliffhangers as a classroom structure?  Be sure to tune in next fall…Okay, you win, we will leak the method to you right now before the fall season begins…

(Contributed by Chad Semling)


“This is one of the more effective during-reading strategies I have used.  My students not only leave a reading with a greater understanding of the content but also enjoy the process.  I have used this strategy with not only reading materials but also classroom lectures and video/multimedia programs.  The “Cliffhanger” not only helps the students develop their perception skills, but it also requires them to evaluate their own understanding and practice summarizing what they have read.”

Step by Step

In all actuality, this is a very simple reading strategy to implement.  There are just a few simple steps to follow to make this tool work.

  1. Choose a point within the selected reading to stop, but be sure to include enough reading so that the students have been exposed to evidence and details that allow them to form their predictions.
  2. Once they have reached the predetermined stopping point, have them summarize (in their words) what has transpired to that point.
  3. Have the students gather evidence from the reading that will help them make a prediction about what will happen next (or at the end of the story).
  4. I like to have the students share their predictions (and facts supporting their thoughts) in small groups but you could have them share their thoughts with the entire class.  This allows for great discussions on different points of view and understanding.
  5. Finally, have the students finish the reading (or next section) and then compare their predictions to what actually takes place in the reading (this makes for a great journal entry).

Depending on the length of the reading selection or other source material, you may want to have the students make several predictions at different points.  This serves two purposes; first it breaks up larger material so the students do not become overwhelmed, and second it provides an opportunity for the students to make adjustments/revisions to previous predictions based on the new information they have read or heard (It is a good idea to have the students use different colors for each prediction).

The most important thing you can do as a teacher is to make sure your students feel comfortable with making predictions.  You need to reassure them that there is no “wrong” prediction as long as it makes sense given the evidence they provided.  It is also very important that teachers make this as enjoyable as possible for the students.  Do not make this “just another worksheet” assignment.  This is a great way to engage students, do not waste that opportunity.

Applications and Examples

In his own words, Chad Semling, Menomonie Middle School, Menomoni, Wisconsin shares his instructional cliffhanger strategy.

One example of this strategy in action uses Edgar Allan Poe’s “Pit and the Pendulum” as the text.  I use this reading as part of a lesson dealing with the Spanish Inquisition.  Due to the complex nature of the vocabulary (especially for seventh graders), it is a good idea to pre-teach the terms as much as possible.  I also recommend an audio version of the reading or at least reading the selection aloud (shared reading).  The following is a sample of the reading that allows the student to gather evidence to make their predictions.  It should be noted that I usually have the students stop four or five different times throughout this reading due to its length.

“So far I had not opened my eyes. I felt that I lay upon my back unbound. I reached out my hand, and it fell heavily upon something damp and hard. There I suffered it to remain for many minutes, while I strove to imagine where and what I could be. I longed, yet dared not, to employ my vision. I dreaded the first glance at objects around me. It was not that I feared to look upon things horrible, but that I grew aghast lest there should be NOTHING to see. At length, with a wild desperation at heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. My worst thoughts, then, were confirmed. The blackness of eternal night encompassed me. I struggled for breath. The intensity of the darkness seemed to oppress and stifle me. The atmosphere was intolerably close. I still lay quietly, and made effort to exercise my reason. I brought to mind the inquisitorial proceedings, and attempted from that point to deduce my real condition. The sentence had passed, and it appeared to me that a very long interval of time had since elapsed. Yet not for a moment did I suppose myself actually dead. Such a supposition, notwithstanding what we read in fiction, is altogether inconsistent with real existence; — but where and in what state was I? The condemned to death, I knew, perished usually at the auto-da-fes, and one of these had been held on the very night of the day of my trial. Had I been remanded to my dungeon, to await the next sacrifice, which would not take place for many months? This I at once saw could not be. Victims had been in immediate demand. Moreover my dungeon, as well as all the condemned cells at Toledo, had stone floors, and light was not altogether excluded.

A fearful idea now suddenly drove the blood in torrents upon my heart, and for a brief period I once more relapsed into insensibility. Upon recovering, I at once started to my feet, trembling convulsively in every fiber. I thrust my arms wildly above and around me in all directions. I felt nothing; yet dreaded to move a step, lest I should be impeded by the walls of a TOMB. Perspiration burst from every pore, and stood in cold big beads upon my forehead. The agony of suspense grew at length intolerable, and I cautiously moved forward, with my arms extended, and my eyes straining from their sockets, in the hope of catching some faint ray of light. I proceeded for many paces, but still all was blackness and vacancy. I breathed more freely. It seemed evident that mine was not, at least, the most hideous of fates.

And now, as I still continued to step cautiously onward, there came thronging upon my recollection a thousand vague rumors of the horrors of Toledo. Of the dungeons there had been strange things narrated — fables I had always deemed them — but yet strange, and too ghastly to repeat, save in a whisper. Was I left to perish of starvation in this subterranean world of darkness; or what fate perhaps even more fearful awaited me? That the result would be death, and a death of more than customary bitterness, I knew too well the character of my judges to doubt. The mode and the hour were all that occupied or distracted me.

My outstretched hands at length encountered some solid obstruction. It was a wall, seemingly of stone masonry — very smooth, slimy, and cold. I followed it up; stepping with all the careful distrust with which certain antique narratives had inspired me. This process, however, afforded me no means of ascertaining the dimensions of my dungeon; as I might make its circuit, and return to the point whence I set out, without being aware of the fact, so perfectly uniform seemed the wall. I therefore sought the knife, which had been in my pocket when led into the inquisitorial chamber, but it was gone; my clothes had been exchanged for a wrapper of coarse serge. I had thought of forcing the blade in some minute crevice of the masonry, so as to identify my point of departure. The difficulty, nevertheless, was but trivial, although, in the disorder of my fancy, it seemed at first insuperable. I tore a part of the hem from the robe, and placed the fragment at full length, and at right angles to the wall. In groping my way around the prison, I could not fail to encounter this rag upon completing the circuit. So, at least, I thought, but I had not counted upon the extent of the dungeon, or upon my own weakness. The ground was moist and slippery. I staggered onward for some time, when I stumbled and fell. My excessive fatigue induced me to remain prostrate, and sleep soon overtook me as I lay.”


Depending on the material, I either have the students follow a format outlined on an overhead or whiteboard.  However, especially early on, it is a good idea to pass out a sheet with the instructions and guidelines (See Figure 20.1a).  The “cliff” I use is to help the students visualize the prediction process at each stopping point; feel free to develop your own format.

19:Guided Reading and Summarizing Procedure (GRASP)

In Part II, cognitive strategy 11, we explored how summarization might help students attend to the important attributes of a text and make more precise predictions as a result.  Learning to summarize effectively is an important skill, one that a classroom structure with the acronym GRASP (Hayes, 1989) can help students to master.  Based on summarization rules this classroom structure is best used as an introduction to the concept of summarizing.  Brown, Campione, and Day (1981) suggest the following rules for summarizing:

  1. Deleting trivial information. In figure 19.1a a student organizes information from a nonfiction article according to what is interesting and what is important.
  2. Delete redundant information.
  3. Label categories for listed information—army and navy can be recategorized as “military.”
  4. Identify and relabel subordinate actions to a superordinate—“Sherman marched his army across Tennessee to Atlanta then on to Savannah” can be relabeled as “Sherman marched his army to Savannah.”
  5. Find and select the author’s topic sentence in each paragraph where one exists.
  6. Create or invent a topic sentence if the author has not written one into the text.


Step by Step

  1. Find a suitable text that ranges from 500 to 1500 words (Hayes, 1990). Identify the cognitive strategy, summarizing, students will work with and that they will work in groups for this exercise.  Students will also need to know that the procedure they use in groups will also work for them when they have summaries to write as individuals.
  2. Students are directed to read the text and remember all they can. After reading, the class lists all they can remember from their reading on a chalkboard or chart paper.  At this point, students may be simply retelling all they remember. Students then reread the material to determine if they missed any significant information that should be on their list.
  3. Students and teacher review their list to identify the important categories of information represented in the text. The group notes any relationships among the categories they establish.
  4. Finally, students write their summary with directions to leave out unimportant information and details, to combine information where they can, and to add information and sentence elements to make the summary coherent. In figure 19.1b, the student organizes the final summary.

Applications and Examples

Whitney Johnson uses GRASP with her students when plots become complex.  Students using GRASP are able to revisit and reconstruct the plot in their minds as a result of this summarizing activity.  Summarization and prediction share a link in that both require attention to relevant details.

[Insert Figures 19.1 and 19.1a about here.]



Figure 19.1 In her own words, Whitney Johnson, Lanier Middle School, Buford, Georgia.

In a unit on scary/suspenseful stories, students will read “The Monkey’s Paw” (Jacobs, 1902),” a short story. After reading the story, students will be able to distinguish between how tone and mood is developed throughout a story, the importance of character motivation in a story, and the sequence of events. In order to help students further understand these concepts, I will use the series-of-events chain, a compare/contrast matrix, and GRASP as study strategies. Using the summaries they create, they will be able to apply their knowledge to the next suspense story in the unit and predict its structure in order to focus more fully on the story.

The GRASP strategy is a thorough way to ensure that students remember certain parts of the story. What I really like about the strategy is that the students write down as much as they can without looking back. I feel that this activates the students’ memory and encourages them to not rely on the text. By writing what the students call out on the board as important things to remember as part of the summary, the teacher is also modeling how to delete concepts, regroup them, and identify topics in the summarization process and be more concise. Anything we can use in the classroom to promote thinking with the text is beneficial. Supporting what students read and learn in more than one way will only encourage the important ideas and concepts.


The KWL structure (Ogle, 1986) is intuitively appealing, and it is instructionally elegant.  It proceeds at the outset from the idea that students know something and that what students already know can help them construct new understanding.

New understanding grounded firmly in previous learning is far more likely to stick and become the foundation for further learning.  KWL potentially scaffolds the complex tasks of associating new understandings with background and prior knowledge and of learning how this association is carried out.  The lack of procedural knowledge needed to make inferences about text may interfere with student understanding even when the declarative knowledge—the content–is present.

Strategy selection in any instructional situation is more than just reaching into a grab bag or bag of tricks. In fact, we actively resist the characterization of a bag of tricks. It must be purposeful, and the procedural value of the strategy should be obvious to the student.  However, Egan (1999) points out even the best graphic organizer can become repetitive and overly predictable if used too frequently.  Fortunately, variations of the KWL exist as a result of inquiry by teachers and teacher educators (see Table 18.1).  Each uses prior and background knowledge with a graphic organizer to scaffold procedural knowledge so students develop a habit of thinking that characterizes scholarship:  inquiry.  The “Want to Know” section of the KWL asks students to predict what they will learn based on the knowledge they already have identified and organized in the “Know” step of the classroom structure.

Step by Step

  1. Students work individually, in small groups, or as a whole class (Egan, 1999) to create a graphic organizer (Figure 18.1a) divided into three columns. In the first, students identify through brainstorming the existing knowledge they already possess about the instructional topic—What I Know.
  2. Once students finish brainstorming, they categorize the types of information students expect to use. Our experience is that this important step is often left out.
  3. In the second column, students determine what they want to find out that they don’t already know—What I Want to Know.
  4. After reading, students complete the third column by putting down what new information they have acquired—What I Learned.

Applications and Examples

When teacher candidates take classes emphasizing the instructional needs of students learning English in the credential classes we teach, we begin with a KWL chart.  Because topics related to bilingual students are often in the newspaper and the talk they hear during their field experiences often emphasize this aspect of education, teacher candidates often have a wide range of knowledge upon which they can draw even before reading the first chapter of the course text.  The KWL chart helps them organize this information.  Those teacher candidates with misinformation also have an opportunity to reconceptualize their understanding through the process, as well.  Then, as students read and participate in other class activities they are able to see how their conceptions of what they want to know change to accommodate the new information.  The graphic organizer makes very clear what the teacher candidates have learned and how they have come to this understanding with the result that they are far more likely to remember and use the knowledge.

When Columbus Day approached, kindergarten teacher Chris Iacono wanted to tap what students already knew about this explorer.  She wrote about her experience using [Figure 18.2]

[Insert Figures 18.2a, 18.2b, 18.2c about here.]
Figure 18.2 In her own words, Christine Iacono, Mary B. Lewis Elementary School, Colton, CA.

After seeing the blank expressions on my kindergartner’s faces when I announced that were going to learn about Christopher Columbus, I decided to use a modified version of KWL with them.  Since none of them truly knew anything about Columbus, I started the lesson by displaying several books about Columbus on the bottom tray of the white board.  I told students that I was going to read some of the books to them because he was someone famous that I wanted them to know about.

I asked them to look at the covers of the books and think about what they thought the books might tell them about Columbus.  I wrote the title of our chart, Christopher Columbus, and the letters K., W., and L. in different colors on the white board.  I explained that we were going to list the things we know about Columbus under the K and the things we want to know under the W before I would read the books.  Then, I told them that we would be listing things in the L section after I read to them to find out all the things they learned about Columbus from the books.

The first student answer I wrote in the K section was, “He is a pirate,” I asked the student why he thought Columbus was a pirate, and he justified his statement by pointing out the obvious ships on he covers of all the Columbus books.  I continued listing their answers and asking them to tell me their reasoning for their answers.  We categorized the predictions, orally, as jobs and places where Columbus worked.  We moved on to the W section, and the first question was, “Is he a pirate?” The students generated several relative questions and the final question was, “When is his birthday?”  Then I chose two of the books and read them aloud to the class.  During the reading, whenever I would get to a part of the book that answered their questions from the W section, I could see and hear the “aha” from the group.

After the readings, we started listing the things we learned from the books in the L section of our chart.  The first things we listed were, “He is not a pirate,” and “He is a sailor.” We continued to list the things we learned, but when we looked to see if we had answered all of our questions from the W section, we were missing one answer about Columbus’ birthday.  Someone thought he book said it as October 12, 1492, but we went back into the book and found that date was not his birthday—it was the day he landed on the island.  When I asked them how we could find the answer to our unanswered question, another student came up with “the computer.” We logged on to the computer and searched to find a site that gave us some information about his birthday.  They were surprised to find out that there was not an exact date listed, and we added the information to our chart even though is wasn’t in the book.

The KWL chart was very successful.  It made it possible for students to look for relevant clues about Columbus from the covers of the books and justify their ideas. It focused their attention by giving them a purpose during the readings—answering their own questions from the W section, and it helped them organize what they learned from the books.  The question about his birthday even extended the lesson to include a technology component that we weren’t expecting.  We finished with an art project about the three ships in Columbus’ fleet.

Figure 18.2c Informational Books We Read

Carpenter, E. (1992). Young Christopher Columbus, Discoverer of New Worlds.

New York, NY: Troll Associates.

Gross, R. B. (1974). A Book About Christopher Columbus.

 New York, NY: Scholastic.

Bjorkman, J. (1991).  In 1492. 


New York NY: Scholastic.

Strong, S. (1991). The Voyage of Columbus in His own Words (a pop-up book).

Columbia: InterVisual Communications, Inc.

Read more about the real Christopher Columbus:

17:Reciprocal Teaching

Paulo Freire (1970) proposed that the roles of teachers and students are not as clearly demarcated as we educators sometimes believe. Feire’s book often confounds readers for a variety of reasons; it was written in a time and place and about a segment of the world’s population about which teachers in western classrooms today understandably know little. One concept, however, that we think has nearly universal appeal as an educational goal is that of the teacher-student, students-teachers.  Simply, teachers have a role as learner in the classroom, and students have (or should have) a role as teacher or leader of their own and others’ instruction. Often, Freire’s ideal sounds good, but how it works in the increasingly political world of education seems elusive. One classroom structure with potential to help students become the subject or agent for their own learning is reciprocal teaching.  In this structure, the teacher models the particular behaviors of good readers; later, students learn to take on the role of teacher to facilitate discussion and model the cognitive strategies of good readers.

In conventional reciprocal teaching, students work in small groups with the teacher who employs a cognitive apprenticeship model (Bruer, 1993; Collins, Brown, & Holum, 1991) with the aim of making the invisible and complex processes of reading visible to the student, a novice reader.  Cognitive apprenticeship calls for teachers to employ teaching methods that permit students to learn how expert readers, in this case, think about difficult texts.  These methods include the following: 1). The teacher models the expected performance, 2). Students perform a task as the teacher coaches through observation and facilitation throughout the apprenticeship, 3). The teacher makes the task manageable and explicit through scaffolding (Eby, 1998), 4). Students are given the opportunity to verbalize what they have learned and how they process their thinking, 5). The teacher models reflection and provides opportunities for students to do so, comparing their performance with others at the same time, 6). Teachers model and encourage students to pose and solve problems (Freire, 1970) that arise as they think about the content and process of reading a given text. Reciprocal teaching also relies on the idea that learning should be situated in authentic tasks (that is, actual reading of texts rather than isolated instruction in the skills of reading) and that it moves from global conceptualization of the whole task before consideration of the parts.

In approaching difficult reading, students must learn strategies that efficiently direct attention, through self-monitoring, to those aspects of the text most likely to be relevant to the reading task as it is situated in a larger context, say a content-area classroom. In designing reciprocal teaching, Palincsar and Brown (1984) identified four cognitive strategies that their research showed as characterizing the thought processes of good readers.  These four cognitive strategies appear in all the adaptations of reciprocal teaching since the researchers first explained their classroom structure in 1984.  The four strategies are: summarizing (see section 2, strategy 11), questioning (see section 2, strategy 9), clarifying (see section 4), and predicting (the subject of this book).  As you have, by now, come to realize, these four strategies are inter-related, so taking a global approach to instruction relying on reciprocal teaching is of particular value.

Reciprocal teaching, in its original configuration, called for a teacher to work with an individual or small group of students.  Many teachers and researchers, sensing the appeal of the structure, have devised a variety of adaptations to make the reciprocal teaching intervention instructionally useful in classrooms with 20 to 40 students in them (e. g., Carter, 1997; Marks et al., 1993). In each variation, the teacher plays a significant role, but students assume increasing responsibility over time for use of the strategies to foster comprehension, monitor comprehension, and advance the group discussion.  In the process, the students have an opportunity to see expert modeling from the teacher of the four cognitive strategies, to compare their performance with that of others, and to take on the role of expert reader with scaffolding by the teacher and peers.  Engagement with reading tasks is likely to increase for students as they have the opportunity to interact meaningfully as agents (capable of acting independently) in the reading process with the teacher, their peers, and the text (Oldfather, 1995).

Step by Step

Determine a format for implementing reciprocal teaching that promotes the concepts of cognitive apprenticeship and student use of the four cognitive strategies: summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting. Marks, et al. (1993) observed three possibilities:

  1. Students are divided into large groups of approximately eight students. Within each group, the students are assigned to pair up with one other student. Paired students read the text together, preparing questions, summaries, and clarifications and summaries; the teacher monitors this interaction. After reading, the students return to their large group and a student leader initiates discussion while students address each other, using the initial paired-reading conversation as a scaffold, rather than addressing the teacher.
  2. Students are asked to read the text preparing summaries, questions, clarifications, and predictions, in advance. They then join a large group discussion (a whole class of 7 to 12 students in a special education setting, as reported by Marks, et al. 1993) where a leader calls on students to share the products of their cognitive preparation; e. g., summarization, etc. The teacher may participate by modeling a question at the inferential level (see section 2.8, for examples) and so on. The student leader may not elect to call on the teacher right away. In this adaptation, students progress through the large-group discussion by considering one cognitive strategy at a time.
  3. The teacher provides a graphic organizer which characterizes the structure of the text (see section 2.3). Students read the text independently noting as they read one prediction, one clarification, a question, and one summary at one point in the text. The teacher provides some instructional mediation in generating questions of various levels of complexity, summarization, and so on. Once students have completed this task, they return to the class but sit in small groups representing learning teams or cooperative learning groups.  Using the notes generated that represent the four cognitive strategies, students discuss these within the small group for a pre-determined time period.  Recalling the coaching nature of reciprocal teaching, the teacher circulates among the groups listening to discussion and interjecting from time to time.  When time for small group discussion is over, the students return to the whole-class configuration with the teacher now leading the discussion.  Groups may be given time to confer and present their best question for the rest of the class to deliberate.  Group presentation of their discussion results including summaries, and reports of prediction and clarification continues.
  1. Ensure that students have ample opportunities to practice the strategies with support from the teacher, in small and large groups with their peers, in response journals, and, of course, any time they are asked to (or choose to) read and study difficult materials.
  2. Provide job aids, such as posters and bookmarks, which remind students of these thinking strategies and perhaps provide opportunities for students to include their thoughts in text by writing directly on the text (glossing) or using sticky notes to do so. Encourage students to share these written products of their thinking with each other and with you, the teacher.
  3. Students will not be proficient at all the skills called for in reciprocal teaching, at first. Expect that their performance will improve as they observe models from teachers and peers and monitor their own comprehension over time with multiple texts.

Applications and Examples

Sara Fratrik uses reciprocal teaching as a classroom structure with the students who receive special education services to help them engage with texts they find challenging.

Figure 17.1 In her own words, Sara Fratrik of Aberdeen Middle School in Aberdeen, Maryland.

Teachers need to model these processes as they read aloud to show students how to enhance their comprehension.  The final step in this process is to allow students to practice using the four skills of predicting, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing on their own.  It is important to model the process for a sufficient amount of time and allow many opportunities for student practice for this process to work.  I plan to begin modeling reciprocal teaching in my classroom with our social studies unit on early modern Europe.  One of the content objectives for this unit is that students will understand the rule of Queen Elizabeth and how it affected England then and now.  Our literary objective will be that students will read for information.

The reading assignment I chose to begin with is a one-page excerpt from a section in the book about special people that were relevant to the civilization we are studying.  This book series involves age-appropriate pictures and content at a lower reading level.  The page includes a picture of the person and a thought provoking, author and you (Raphael, 1986), question at the end of the reading. This book and section of the content and history may be challenging for my students, so reciprocal teaching is a perfect fit for my students, the text, and the learning objectives.

For the first time introducing reciprocal teaching I will read the text aloud while they read along to my students while stopping myself to predict, ask questions, and clarify.  The first sentence of the text is a good place to set a prediction.  It tells that Queen Elizabeth was only twenty-five when she became queen. At this point I would ask the students if they thought she would be a good queen or not.  I expect that some will say yes, because she is too young and will not know what to do, while others will say no and believe that twenty-five is old.  I will continue reading and revisit this prediction to have students determine if they predicted correctly, incorrectly, or still want to read to see what else they can learn.  When you read on a little more, the text tells of the Spanish Armada invading England.  The text specifically asks the reader if they will win. This is a great point for a prediction and it is generated by the text.  I expect some of my students will use their prior knowledge about what they learned about England and say that it is a big country so the Spanish will not win, while others will say the Spanish will win because Queen Elizabeth will not know what to do.

During the reading my students will also need some clarification on a few words and concepts.  They will probably need to clarify the word armada.  The best strategy for this would be to read on for clarification.  After the word is introduced the text defines the word.  Even if the text did not define the word, reading on would be appropriate because it talks about sailing and warships, thus helping the students to see that the Spanish armada was a group of Spanish warships.  Another difficult concept may be the short mention of William Shakespeare in the text.  I would recommend that the students research further to better understand the text.  The best way would be to use the Internet and read some of his work.

As we read, the students may have some questions.  Two questions I predict the students might ask include why the Spanish invaded England and why England set their own ships on fire.  The best way to answer these would be with a class discussion during and after reading.  These questions involve a lot of on your own thinking as they are not pointed out specifically in the text. Finally, students will need to learn to summarize what they have read.  Summarization is important because it teaches the students to pick out the important information while putting less effort into the unimportant information.  To introduce this part of the strategy I will have a summary, see below, of the text for my students to review and thus have an example to base their future summaries on.

Sample Summary:

Queen Elizabeth was a young queen and many people were unsure if she would be a good queen.  She proved herself by defeating the Spanish at sea when they invaded England.  She was thought to be a good ruler because England became a powerful nation and she took time to be with her subjects.

The key to making reciprocal teaching work is modeling until students can begin to generate questions, predictions, clarifications, and summaries on their own.  Once they are able to do this, many opportunities for practice will help the students to do these things whenever they read and this is the whole point to reciprocal teaching.

16:The Directed Reading-Thinking Activity

When you read the title of this section, what did you think you would find out by reading?  Perhaps you thought that the directed reading-thinking activity has something to do with thinking; then perhaps you thought that was too obvious.  Nope, good prediction; keep reading to see what you find out.  Maybe you predicted that this strategy is the newest strategy from some university researcher with an acronym to match.  Also a good prediction; keep reading to find out.  Now that you’ve read this paragraph, you might think this section will give you some ideas about how to connect cognitive processes and texts.

The directed reading-thinking activity, DR-TA, as Stauffer explained it (1969) differed from the before reading–during reading–after reading planning sequence that has been the staple of reading teachers since Emmett Betts (1946) described the directed reading activity in the middle of the last century.  Betts proposed that teachers should take an active role in developing readiness for reading (often called pre-reading), guiding the purposes for reading, etc. Stauffer suggested, instead, that readers could learn to set their own purposes for reading, identify appropriate cognitive strategies to approach the text, make aesthetic connections with text, generalize  from  principles in the text to other texts and situations, and so on. The teacher’s role in the DR-TA is to provide structures and guidance that promote student independence.  While Stauffer highlighted the differences between his DR-TA and Betts’ directed reading activity, we don’t view the two roles as incompatible.  Teachers can prepare and guide students and promote students’ independent use of cognitive strategies at the same time. The authors of the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (Chamot & O’Malley, 1994) suggest that teachers gradually release responsibility for implementation of cognitive strategies over time until students are able to use and evaluate a given strategy independently.  Often, the DR-TA is integrated in context of the before-during-after structure (e. g., Fisher, Brozo, Frey, & Ivey, 2007).

The DR-TA is a classroom structure teachers can use to promote independent use of the prediction strategy. DR-TA, like many of the classroom structures described in this book, is highly adaptable; it can be used in a variety of ways.  DR-TAs work well in small groups, with individuals, and in whole class settings.  Students may write their predictions, the teacher may do so, or the predictions may simply promote discussion without formal structures like worksheets or reader response journals.

Step by Step

  1. The teacher determines stopping points in the text where prediction and discussion of the predictions might logically occur. Many teachers provide a large index card or blank piece of paper to cover remaining text beyond the stopping point on the page.  In this way, students are encouraged to stop and think about their reading rather than simply plowing ahead while other students catch up.  Students learn to evaluate and determine their own purposes for reading.
  2. For texts with illustrations, maps, and charts, ask students to preview the chapter or section looking specifically at these features and others like words in bold type and end materials for the chapter to gain some idea of the topics for the chapter. In other texts, typically fiction, ask students to read the title.  Once students have done this, the teacher asks, “What do you think the story (or chapter) will be about? Students volunteer predictions.  These may be recorded on the chalkboard, on chart paper, or in the students’ reader response journals.  Teachers often note the predictions mentally without recording them in writing to facilitate the discussion.  Students can be prompted to elaborate on their predictions with a question such as, “Why do you think that?”
  3. Students then read silently or in shared reading to the first stopping point.
  4. Teachers may then ask students to summarize by asking, “What have we learned, so far, in the reading?” At this point in the reading, it is worthwhile to review the predictions from the last stopping point to determine if the predictions are still possible or if they should be discarded. New predictions should be volunteered and reasons for the predictions, based on the reading, should be sought.  Vacca and Vacca

    (2005) suggest that explicitly attributing a prediction that has been refuted may not produce a desirable result.  We suggest that teachers consider the tone and manner in which predictions are evaluated as reading progresses without attributing the prediction to a specific student.
  5. Continue reading to stopping points the engaging in the prediction, validation, refutation cycle until the end of the section or story.

Applications and Examples

The DR-TA is an adaptable structure; if students are viewing a video or film instead of reading, a directed reading-viewing procedure might be in order (Cunningham, Cunningham, & Arthur, 1981). If students are listening to a guest speaker, the “R” for reading might be substituted for an “L” as in listening helping students think about what they are learning regardless of the media or text type.

As you read this section, did you notice that you made predictions based on background and prior knowledge then adjusted those predictions as you gained additional information by reading?  The DR-TA is a tool teachers use to assist students in becoming autonomous readers who can engage in predictive tasks just as you did in your reading.  Below, we provide an example of a DR-TA used with a small group in a discussion format.  As students move through the story, they also create a need to know what happens next; motivation for reading becomes an intrinsic part of the readers’ repertoires. In this example, note that the reader doesn’t impose preconceived constructions about the content on the students.  If the teacher doesn’t maintain neutrality about each prediction, the students will quickly come to rely on the teacher’s construction of the text’s meaning rather than learn to do so on their own (Johnston, 1993). Click to read an example of how DR-TA might be used.

August Heat” by W. F. Harvey (1910)

Teacher:        Now what could a story titled “August Heat” be about?

Student 1:      Well, it is probably about something that happened one very hot summer.

Student 2:      Yes, but it might be a story about a police officer.

Teacher:        The police?  Why do you…

Student 2:      Sometimes the police were called “the heat” in the past.

Teacher:        Okay, anything else?  Other ideas?  Then open your book and read to the bottom of page one.


August 20th, 190—.

I have had what I believe to be the most remarkable day in my life, and while the events are still fresh in my mind, I wish to put them down on paper as clearly as possible.

Let me say at the outset that my name is James Clarence Withencroft.

I am forty years old, in perfect health, never having known a day’s illness.

By profession I am an artist, not a very successful one, but I earn enough money by my black-and- white work to satisfy my necessary wants.

My only near relative, a sister, died five years ago, so that I am independent. I breakfasted this morning at nine, and after glancing through the morning paper I lighted my pipe and proceeded to let my mind wander in the hope that I might chance upon some subject for my pencil.

The room, though door and windows were open, was oppressively hot, and I had just made up my mind that the coolest and most comfortable place in the neighbourhood would be the deep end of the public swimming bath, when the idea came.

I began to draw. So intent was I on my work that I left my lunch untouched, only stopping work when the clock of St. Jude’s struck four.

The final result, for a hurried sketch, was, I felt sure, the best thing I had done. It showed a criminal in the dock immediately after the judge had pronounced sentence. The man was fat— enormously fat. The flesh hung in rolls about his chin; it creased his huge, stumpy neck. He was clean shaven (perhaps I should say a few days before he must have been clean shaven) and almost bald. He stood in the dock, his short, clumsy fingers clasping the rail, looking straight in front of him. The feeling that his expression conveyed was not so much one of horror as of utter, absolute collapse.

There seemed nothing in the man strong enough to sustain that mountain of flesh.

I rolled up the sketch, and without quite knowing why, placed it in my pocket. Then with the rare sense of happiness which the knowledge of a good thing well done gives, I left the house.

Teacher:        Okay.  Now, what do you think?

Student 2:      Well, there’s an artist who works at home.  And he’s drawn a picture of a criminal standing at the dock.  I’m not sure what that means.

Student 3:      Me, neither.  “Dock” doesn’t sound like a place to tie up a boat the way it’s used in this story.  It sounds like part of a courtroom.  Anyway, we were right about one thing.  The story is set in summer when it’s hot.

Teacher:        Right.  What did you read that confirmed this prediction?

Student 3:      Well, it says right here in the sixth paragraph that it was “oppressively hot.”

Teacher:        Ah.  Right.  The artist is about to go somewhere.  What do you think?

Student 4:      He’s going to go swimming?  I think the public bath is a swimming pool.

Teacher:        Could be.  What else?

Student 1:      He’s a relative of the man in the courtroom.  He’s going to go visit him in jail, maybe.

Teacher:        Okay, read to the middle of the next page; put your index card just under the word “death.”

I believe that I set out with the idea of calling upon Trenton, for I remember walking along Lytton Street and turning to the right along Gilchrist Road at the bottom of the hill where the men were at work on the new tram lines.

From there onwards I have only the vaguest recollection of where I went. The one thing of which I was fully conscious was the awful heat, that came up from the dusty asphalt pavement as an almost palpable wave. I longed for the thunder promised by the great banks of copper-coloured cloud that hung low over the western sky.

I must have walked five or six miles, when a small boy roused me from my reverie by asking the time.

It was twenty minutes to seven.

When he left me I began to take stock of my bearings. I found myself standing before a gate that led into a yard bordered by a strip of thirsty earth, where there were flowers, purple stock and scarlet geranium. Above the entrance was a board with the inscription—



From the yard itself came a cheery whistle, the noise of hammer blows, and the cold sound of steel meeting stone.

A sudden impulse made me enter.

A man was sitting with his back towards me, busy at work on a slab of curiously veined marble. He turned round as he heard my steps and I stopped short.

It was the man I had been drawing, whose portrait lay in my pocket.

He sat there, huge and elephantine, the sweat pouring from his scalp, which he wiped with a red silk handkerchief. But though the face was the same, the expression was absolutely different.

He greeted me smiling, as if we were old friends, and shook my hand.

I apologised for my intrusion.

“Everything is hot and glary outside,” I said. “This seems an oasis in the wilderness.”

“I don’t know about the oasis,” he replied, “but it certainly is hot, as hot as hell. Take a seat, sir!”

He pointed to the end of the gravestone on which he was at work, and I sat down.

“That’s a beautiful piece of stone you’ve got hold of,” I said.

He shook his head. “In a way it is,” he answered; “the surface here is as fine as anything you could wish, but there’s a big flaw at the back, though I don’t expect you’d ever notice it. I could never make really a good job of a bit of marble like that. It would be all right in the summer like this; it wouldn’t mind the blasted heat. But wait till the winter comes. There’s nothing quite like frost to find out the weak points in stone.”

“Then what’s it for?” I asked.

The man burst out laughing.

“You’d hardly believe me if I was to tell you it’s for an exhibition, but it’s the truth. Artists have exhibitions: so do grocers and butchers; we have them too. All the latest little things in headstones, you know.”

He went on to talk of marbles, which sort best withstood wind and rain, and which were easiest to work; then of his garden and a new sort of carnation he had bought. At the end of every other minute he would drop his tools, wipe his shining head, and curse the heat.

I said little, for I felt uneasy. There was something unnatural, uncanny, in meeting this man.

I tried at first to persuade myself that I had seen him before, that his face, unknown to me, had found a place in some out-of-the-way corner of my memory, but I knew that I was practising little more than a plausible piece of self-deception.

Mr. Atkinson finished his work, spat on the ground, and got up with a sigh of relief.

“There! what do you think of that?” he said, with an air of evident pride. The inscription which I read for the first time was this—


BORN JAN. 18TH, 1860.


ON AUGUST 20TH, 190—

“In the midst of life we are in death.

Some students flip back the pages of the story to check the name of the narrator.  Then the teacher asks a question.

Teacher:        That’s interesting.  Now what do you think?

Student 5:      OK—these two guys know each other and the stone mason is playing a practical joke.

Student 1:      Hmmm.  Maybe, but they don’t seem to know each other once Withencroft enters the stone mason’s shop.  Maybe it’s some sort of time shift where one or the other went forward in time.

Teacher:        You may be right.  What else?

Student 2:      Well, the two guys don’t seem to know each other, but Atkinson has created a gravestone with Withencroft’s name on it.  We might find out how that happened on the next page.

Teacher:        Let’s find out.  Read the next section to the words, “…but I knew what he meant.”

For some time I sat in silence. Then a cold shudder ran down my spine. I asked him where he had seen the name.

“Oh, I didn’t see it anywhere,” replied Mr. Atkinson. “I wanted some name, and I put down the first that came into my head. Why do you want to know?”

“It’s a strange coincidence, but it happens to be mine.” He gave a long, low whistle.

“And the dates?”

“I can only answer for one of them, and that’s correct.”

“It’s a rum go!” he said.

But he knew less than I did. I told him of my morning’s work. I took the sketch from my pocket and showed it to him. As he looked, the expression of his face altered until it became more and more like that of the man I had drawn.

“And it was only the day before yesterday,” he said, “that I told Maria there were no such things as ghosts!”

Neither of us had seen a ghost, but I knew what he meant.

Student 2:      [summarizing] Wow, Atkinson carves a gravestone with Withencroft’s name on it and Withencroft has drawn a picture of someone who looks like Atkinson in a courtroom.  Okay, it looks like something is going to happen.  I think we’ll find out how these two guys know each other.

Student 4:      Yeah, the two must know each other and just don’t remember.  Maybe this is one of those mysteries where one guy cheated the other one in a card game.

Teacher:        All right.  Anything else?  What about the stone with the crack in it?

Student 5:      Oh, right.  Maybe the stone is going to fall on Withencroft.

Teacher:        Perhaps.  Let’s read to the end of the next page to see how things turn out.

You probably heard my name,” I said.

“And you must have seen me somewhere and have forgotten it! Were you at Clacton-on-Sea last July?”

I had never been to Clacton in my life. We were silent for some time. We were both looking at the same thing, the two dates on the gravestone, and one was right.

“Come inside and have some supper,” said Mr. Atkinson.

His wife was a cheerful little woman, with the flaky red cheeks of the country-bred. Her husband introduced me as a friend of his who was an artist. The result was unfortunate, for after the sardines and watercress had been removed, she brought out a Doré Bible, and I had to sit and express my admiration for nearly half an hour.

I went outside, and found Atkinson sitting on the gravestone smoking.

We resumed the conversation at the point we had left off. “You must excuse my asking,” I said, “but do you know of anything you’ve done for which you could be put on trial?”

He shook his head. “I’m not a bankrupt, the business is prosperous enough. Three years ago I gave turkeys to some of the guardians at Christmas, but that’s all I can think of. And they were small ones, too,” he added as an afterthought.

He got up, fetched a can from the porch, and began to water the flowers. “Twice a day regular in the hot weather,” he said, “and then the heat sometimes gets the better of the delicate ones.

And ferns, good Lord! They could never stand it. Where do you live?”

I told him my address. It would take an hour’s quick walk to get back home.

“It’s like this,” he said. “We’1l look at the matter straight. If you go back home to-night, you take your chance of accidents. A cart may run over you, and there’s always banana skins and orange peel, to say nothing of fallen ladders.”

He spoke of the improbable with an intense seriousness that would have been laughable six hours before. But I did not laugh.

“The best thing we can do,” he continued, “is for you to stay here till twelve o’clock. We’ll go upstairs and smoke, it may be cooler inside.”

To my surprise I agreed.

Student 3:      I know.  The stone guy is going to knock off Withencroft.

Student 4:      Maybe, but the Atkinson doesn’t seem to have a reason to kill him.  I think there will be an accident and Atkinson will be blamed for it.

The discussion continues, then the teacher summarizes the predictions the group has identified.

Teacher:        Okay, we predict that there will be an accident where Atkinson is blamed, that there will be an accident and Atkinson will testify in court about it, or that there will be a twist in the plot and Withencroft finally is overcome by the heat and kills Atkinson.  Please read to the end of the story to find out.

We are sitting now in a long, low room beneath the eaves. Atkinson has sent his wife to bed. He himself is busy sharpening some tools at a little oilstone, smoking one of my cigars the while.

The air seems charged with thunder. I am writing this at a shaky table before the open window.

The leg is cracked, and Atkinson, who seems a handy man with his tools, is going to mend it as soon as he has finished putting an edge on his chisel.

It is after eleven now. I shall be gone in less than an hour.

But the heat is stifling.

It is enough to send a man mad.

Teacher:        Well, what do you think happened?

Student 2:      Is that the end of the story?  Where’s the last page?

Teacher:        That’s it.  The author ended his story at this point to leave the reader wondering how it all turned out.  What do you think is an ending that fits the circumstances?

The students discuss possibilities and point out features of the story that lend credence to their predictions.  Atkinson is sharpening a chisel and could have killed Withencroft.  The table is rickety and Withencroft falls and hurts himself.  The conversation continues. In DR-TA, extending and refining comprehension is a key element.  The students’ discussion demonstrates the increasing accuracy of the predictions as they work through the reading. When done well, the DR-TA helps create an environment that is both conversational (Haggard, 1988) and promotes learning through predictions.