Title - When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers can do: A Guide for Teacher, 6-12.

Author(s) - Kylene Beers

Source - Beers, K., & Beers, G. K. (2003). When Kids Can't Read, What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers, 6-12. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Year - 2003

Suitable Audience - Teachers, Teacher Educators, NGO Practitioners

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link - None

How do we know when a student is struggling with a text? What aspects of the text is the student struggling with? How do we identify these struggling readers? What is the difference between a struggling reader and a dependent reader? How do we identify and assess the different needs of these students? How do we help both struggling readers and dependent readers become good, independent readers?

Kylene Beers, presents a guide, more so a handbook for teachers who are struggling with these questions. It is aimed to support teachers who teach from grades Six to Twelve. There is a handy guide to help teachers look at what the student is able to do and not able to do in the classroom, with respect to reading and related aspects, and depending on this, she provides suggestions to support them based on the assessment. The book has dedicated chapters with detailed suggestions strengthened by experience and examples from the classroom, that could help guide the teacher support for comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, word recognition. It aims to not only build the above mentioned skills but also the attitude and confidence, with chapters that help build student motivation, as well, which makes this a comprehensive guide for any teacher to refer to and get inspired by.

Title - Mosaic of Thought: Teaching Comprehension in a Reader’s Workshop

Author(s) - Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann

Source - Keene, E. O., & Zimmermann, S. (1997). Mosaic of thought: Teaching comprehension in a reader's workshop. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Year - 1997

Suitable Audience - Teacher Educators, NGO Practitioners, Language and Literacy Teachers

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link - None

How do we introduce strategies that help students understand texts better? How do we help them read well? How do we develop in our readers a love for reading so they become lifetime readers? On one hand these are questions that seem very difficult to answer, on the other, we have questions about the processes of reading. How do we understand the thinking that goes on while one is reading a text? What are the other key processes that take place internally as one reads? How do we understand this? Keene and Zimmermann, through their book, help answer the questions above and offer much more on aspects of teaching and learning reading comprehension. The authors take from research and practice and offer valuable insights into what good reading comprehension teaching and learning entails. They take us through the many Reader’s Workshop-like settings in a classroom and offer us a peek into such spaces. They present many examples from both their own experience and other teachers’ experiences along with detailed classroom descriptions. The book provides ideas on and insights into how we could support students to become thoughtful, independent and proficient readers who deeply understand and engage with every text they read.

Title - Strategies that Work: Teaching Comprehension to Enhance Understanding

Author(s) - Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis

Source - Harvey, S., & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work: Teaching comprehension to enhance understanding. York, Me: Stenhouse Publishers.

Year - 2000

Suitable Audience - Teacher Educators, Teachers, NGO Practitioners

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link - None

What should the aim of comprehension instruction and practice be? Is it to teach reading in a sense that the reader understands what the author is saying? Or is it to teach reading in a sense that the reader brings in a bit of himself too and interacts and builds a relationship with the text and the author? This book aims to focus on the idea that meaning is constructed in the realm where readers meet the words in the text and consider the ideas in terms of their own experience and knowledge. Therefore, the aim of comprehension instruction and practice is to help readers interact with texts more completely and to engage with the texts more deeply and in a richer manner to make reading a thoughtful experience. Having this as the heart of the book, the authors recommend ways in which we could support students to become thoughtful, completely engaged readers. They present the many strategies and elaborate on a number of instructional approaches that teachers and responses that students bring into the classroom as they teach and learn for comprehension. The chapters provide insights into what makes for a strategic reader, from how making connections with the text, helps use our background knowledge to support comprehension, to asking questions to make better inferences, to build on different perspectives to learn how to make informed judgement, and so on. The authors provide many classroom examples and student transcripts to help us understand the nuances. They also present a list of great books for teaching strategy instruction, content across the curriculum, and literary genres.  

Title - Reading With Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades

Author(s) - Debbie Miller

Source - Miller, D. (2002). Reading with meaning: Teaching comprehension in the primary grades. Portland, Me: Stenhouse Publishers.

Year - 2002

Suitable Audience - Language and Literacy Teachers, NGO Practitioners, Students

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link - None

How do we help young children in a primary classroom begin to be thoughtful, independent and strategic readers? How do we create a classroom culture that encourages thinking and learning in a collaborative manner? How do we teach for not just decoding, but for comprehension? Teaching reading comprehension requires thoughtful decisions that are based on principles that are well grounded in practice. When we think of a primary classroom, the first thought that should come to mind, is that of a classroom filled with energy: a lively buzz of learning, learning with enthusiasm and, a sense of accomplishment, both for the teacher as well as the children. Debbie Millers in this book, presents the many strategies that we would need to teach children comprehension in a way that is not only effective, but collaborative and supportive. She takes us through her own experiences in a classroom with children as she ensures explicit instruction, modelling, and classroom discussions are a part of her classroom sessions. She also believes in the idea of gradual release of responsibility to her students where she empowers them to begin to think for themselves and begin to strategise their own means for comprehension as they read a text, through reflection, inference, asking questions, creating mental images, synthesising information, making connections etc. You may wonder what ‘Gradual Release of Responsibility’ even means, and how should one go about such a practice. We recommend that you read this book to understand this and much more. This book also helps you learn about the tools you could use in your classroom to make it lively and fun for the learners. It assures you, that you could make the learning for your children rigorous, in a nurturing, strongly supportive environment.

Title - Improving Comprehension with Think-Aloud Strategies

Author(s) - Jeffrey D. Wilhelm

Source - Wilhelm, J. D. (2001). Improving Comprehension with Think-Aloud Strategies. New York: Scholastic Professional Books.

Year - 2001

Suitable Audience - Language and Literacy Teachers, NGO Practitioners, Students

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link - None

Developing in our children an enthusiasm for reading is a dream that every passionate teacher would have and in turn, strive for. What are the many strategies then, that one would come up with when teaching children to be enthusiastic readers who can comprehend, appreciate and make conversations with all kinds of texts, from literary to informative? How do we make these strategies and tasks meaningful for the learners? Jeff Wilhelm, through this book speaks to us about one such strategy that he has used in the classroom, which has proven to be effective. The strategy or technique we would learn about, is called the “Think-Aloud” technique. This is a strategy that helps model what good readers do while they read a text. It helps show ‘how’ a good reader goes about engaging with a text. A reader during a ‘think-aloud’ speaks out loud or sets down in many ways how he is ‘thinking’, ‘noticing’, ‘feeling’ and ‘doing’ as he reads. This helps other readers who are learning to be better readers, take note of the strategies that good readers use as they read a text. This helps them practice these strategies themselves to become good readers.

Wilhelm, in this book which is meant to support upper elementary and middle school students, offers lessons/guidelines to teach strategies, suggests activities and provides classroom snippets and sample student work to help take us through learning how to support comprehension through thinking aloud strategies.

Title - Chapter 23 - Teaching Genre and Content Literacy: Exploring Fiction and Nonfiction Texts

Author(s) - Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell.

Source - C. Fountas, I., & Su Pinnell, G. (2001). Guiding Readers and Writers, Grades 3-6: Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy.

Year - 2001

Suitable Audience - Teachers, Teacher Educators, NGO Practitioners, Students

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link - None

How well are we equipping our children to face the demands that today’s information-centric world would throw at them? Fountas and Pinnell opine that the quality of life of these children will depend on their ability to use a wide variety of texts, in both print and non-print media. They suggest that literacy experiences in the elementary grades will pave the path for their future performance.

Hence, we must help develop in them an appreciation for and an understanding of a wide range of literary texts of a variety of genres, broaden their world experience, enrich their knowledge of language, which is not limited to vocabulary alone, help them cultivate an informed taste as readers and  form critical opinions of their own on texts, authors and illustrators, and ensure they are able to select texts according to their needs and purposes. The manner in which they engage with texts and how well a teacher knows and understands the different texts is also significant.

This paper outlines all the key aspects of developing the many skills and capabilities that make for a good reader. It helps us understand how it is important to know the texts that our children read, how to differentiate between poetry and prose, and how we should go about understanding the many genres that we encounter -- fantasy, realistic fiction, biographies, autobiographies and memoirs, among others. It doesn’t stop there -- it takes us through the different elements in fiction and non-fiction, in a simple yet comprehensive manner. They also make suggestions to incorporate in your classroom as well as for professional development.

We highly recommend this chapter for anybody interested in developing efficient and critical readers.

Title - Section 4 - Teaching the qualities of good reading

Author(s) - Lucy Calkins

Source - Calkins, L. (2001). The art of teaching reading. New York: Longman.

Year - 2001

Suitable Audience - Students, Teacher Educators, Language and Literacy Teachers

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link - None

How do we help children develop ‘qualities of good reading’? What are these qualities ? Lucy Calkins, in this section from her book The Art of Teaching Reading, passionately writes about not only what these qualities of good reading are, but suggests ways in which we could support our students in developing these qualities. Don’t we all wish to help children become critical readers who not only read and interpret what is being expressed but also go beyond what is written? Don’t we wish they have the courage to express their opinion about what they read without fear of being dismissed? In her attempt to show us the important role critical reading plays in our lives, Calkins presents chapters that deal with these aspects in great detail. Some such chapters are - Non Fiction Reading; The Elements of Story; Giving our Students Tools and Strategies to interpret Texts.

To give you a glimpse of what you could expect to learn about teaching good reading: in the chapter dedicated to non-fiction reading, for instance, Calkins draws our attention to why, despite being the most widely read genre, non-fiction does not get enough space, focus and attention in the classroom. She explains ways in which we could encourage readers to pick up non-fiction titles, by nudging them towards texts that help them learn about topics of their interest, by reading aloud and dropping interesting facts every once in a while to pique their curiosity. The author also suggests ways to engage the class with magazines and newspapers.

Title - The Instruction of Reading Comprehension

Author(s) - David Pearson and Margaret C. Gallagher

Source - Pearson, P.D., & Gallagher, M.C. (1983). The instruction of reading comprehension. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8, 317–344.

Year - 1983

Suitable Audience - Teacher Educators, Academics, Students

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link -

This paper is essentially a technical report on the number of research studies that focussed on the instruction of reading comprehension. Pearson and Gallagher, as they review a number of research studies, try to present in clear terms the nature of comprehension and comprehension instruction, and the relationship between the two.They give us a brief historical overview, informing us about the journey of reading researchers in the West from the 1920s through 1980s as they tried to unravel their developing understanding of reading curriculum and instruction. It is shown that, with time, the focus eventually was to bring a balance between theory and practice, which also had some important implications for teaching and learning reading comprehension.

We get a glimpse of what the practices were as they are reported without being interpreted. Thus it serves as a tool for reflection if we choose to understand our own practices in the classroom. It also suggest ways, though not explicitly, in which we could modify our own practices as we learn from the findings from various studies that were then attempts at improvising prevailing practices. It also helps contextualise our own understanding of what reading comprehension entails, which serves as a starting point for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of reading comprehension.

Some key takeaways would be what the ideas of teacher ‘modelling’ and student ‘practice’ really mean in a classroom and how could that determine the methods used in class. Also, how do we understand the role of teacher or student ‘responsibility’? How do we bring that balance and how would that change how we teach and learn?

Title - Instructional Conversations and their Classroom Applications

Author(s) - Claude Goldenberg

Source - Goldenberg, C. (1991). Instructional conversations and their classroom application (Instructional Practice Rep. No. 2). Santa Cruz, CA: National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning.

Year - 1991

Suitable Audience - Teacher Educators, Literacy and Language Educators, NGO Practitioners, Students

Difficulty level - Moderate

Link -

The author suggests that teaching should go beyond teaching for skills and knowledge acquisition alone. Through the practice of what is called ‘instructional conversations’, the author suggests, the teacher should encourage the expression of students’ thoughts and ideas, and build upon the information that the students provide. While the intent is to promote learning, the style of classroom interactions are conversational and less instructional. This way, not only are the students encouraged to share their own experiences but the teacher also helps them reach more sophisticated levels of understanding their own worlds and the expression of their experiences those worlds. This approach believes that students play a key role in constructing new information and knowledge and the teacher helps build on them by stimulating thinking, and by providing opportunities that promote analysis, reflection and critical thinking.

The paper demarcates the difference between instructional conversation and direct instruction and helps the reader discern the value of the former in the classroom. It gives us a detailed overview of the elements of instructional conversation with examples.

Title - Comparing Oral Language and Reading Comprehension

Author(s) - Ann Daly

Source - Daly, A. (2015). Comparing Oral Language and Reading comprehension (PhD paper). Retrieved from;jsessionid=AA75A5AE149FDD3E349459269E948ECE?doi=

Year - 2015

Suitable Audience - Literacy Educators, Academics

Difficulty Level - Moderate to Difficult

Link -;jsessionid=AA75A5AE149FDD3E349459269E948ECE?doi=

This paper discusses the relationship between oral language and reading comprehension. It is a part of a PhD research study, and the presentation is based on findings after interviewing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students from remote, provincial and metropolitan areas in Australia about their strategies for reading multimodal texts in literacy tests. It investigates what successful and struggling readers do when they are faced with complex texts and how their ability to face complex oral grammar and vocabulary would have a bearing on their reading success.

Through the discussion of a literacy programme called the ‘“Accelerated Literacy’ programme, the paper suggests that there is a strong link between oral language and its further development for supporting reading comprehension. It suggests that developing oral language may be crucial to reading success. It shows that when students use oral language to understand or break down the meanings in texts, and think about how texts are structured so that they could further make meaning, they are developing both their oral language and their comprehension of the written language. This, it is suggested, does not occur in isolation. The role of a more able adult or a teacher is seen as absolutely essential as they model it for their students and make discussions of a text an integral part of the language classroom.

This paper might be theoretically dense, but it is recommended for anyone who wants to understand the rationale behind why dialogue around a text is important in a language classroom.

Title - The role of the reader’s schema in comprehension, learning and memory

Author(s) - Richard C. Anderson, Jean Osborn and Robert J. Tierney

Source - Anderson, R. C., Osborn, J., & Tierney, R. J. (1984). Learning to Read in American Schools: Basal Readers and Content Texts. L. Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved from

Year - 1984

Suitable Audience - Students, Literacy Educators, Language Teachers, NGO Practitioners

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link - None

Is meaning inherent in the words and the structure of a text? Could meanings of words be ‘added up’ to give the meaning of the whole? When we consider the idea of ‘prior knowledge’, are we assuming that all children, irrespective of diverse cultures, would read and interpret words or sentences in a text, in the exact same way?

What could be a possible consequence of having a minority child reading a text that assumes he understands a text complete with ideas from a majority culture? These questions lead us to ask further - what could possibly be the role of children’s schema (or background knowledge) in making meaning and comprehending words or texts presented to them? Are you aware of the Schema Theory? What is it? What are its implications in teaching comprehension?

According to the Schema Theory, a reader’s schema or organised knowledge of the world provides a basis for comprehending, learning and remembering ideas in stories and texts. In this paper, Anderson attempts to explain the Schema Theory, gives illustrations of the supporting evidence, and suggests applications to classroom teaching and the design of instructional materials.

A chapter that highlights some very important aspects of what underlies ‘comprehension’. A must-read for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of what comprehension is and what it entails.

Title - Schools Don’t Teach Comprehension

Author(s) - Dolores Durkin

Source - Durkin, D. (March, 1981). Schools don’t teach comprehension. Educational Leadership, 453-454.

Year - 1981

Suitable Audience - Literacy Educators, Language Educators, Teacher Educators, Students

Difficulty Level - Easy

Link - None

What is the role of a teacher when he/she has to teach for comprehension? How would you, if you were a teacher, prepare for supporting your children with reading comprehension? Should comprehension, in the real sense of the term, even be the focus of a reading class? What do you imagine the findings of a research study that focused mainly on the aspect of comprehension instruction would be?

This paper presents the findings of a study conducted in 39 classrooms across 14 school systems, where each class was observed for three successive days. The study was conducted by the Centre for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois, who were approached by the National Institute of Education, a government body in the United States of America, to improve reading comprehension instruction in elementary school. This study, as a result, was conducted solely for the purpose of understanding or learning about the practices in the classroom before planning for intervention.

It offers some interesting insights into the kind of practices we might find in most classrooms.

Title - Co-constructing Meaning: Interactive Literary Discussions in Kindergarten Read-Alouds

Author(s) - Jessica L. Hoffman

Source - L. Hoffman, J. (2011). Coconstructing Meaning: Interactive Literary Discussions in Kindergarten Read-Alouds. The Reading Teacher, 65.

Year - 2011

Suitable Audience - Literacy Educators, Language Educators, Teacher Educators, Students

Difficulty Level - Moderate to Difficult

Link - None

How do you support higher level literacy practices that focus on actively constructing meaning through analysis, interpretation, and critical thinking, which result in interpreting the text rather than making meaning at a literal level as presented by the text? While meaning making is at the heart of reading and writing, when a reader is critically engaging with a text, he or she is able to interpret it bearing in mind the larger socio-cultural-political aspects that are implicit in the text. This paper is comprehensive in that it gives the reader key details of a study the researcher, Hoffman, conducted with a kindergarten teacher and how they both worked together to redesign reading aloud as a classroom practice to focus on higher level literacy practices.

The paper offers insights into how simple changes in the style of interactions between the teacher and the children around a text can make a huge difference in how the children learn to engage with texts and how they experience them. This paper is for practitioners wondering how  to engage their children in good critical literacy practices. The author recommends many useful practices that could be adapted not only in the kindergarten classroom but even in primary classrooms with careful planning.

Title - Rich Talk About Text

Author(s) - P. David Pearson

Source - National Literacy and Numeracy Week

Year -Not available

Suitable Audience - Students, Literacy Educators, Language Teachers, NGO Practitioners

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link -

In this paper, David Pearson makes a thorough case for the premise that Talk Around Text contributes to comprehension and comprehension strategies. Talk around text needs to be in sync with the different purposes of literacy. That is, it should facilitate effective decoding, meaning making and critical thinking. How can such talk be developed? Pearson discusses sub-strategies such as questioning, restating, clarifying, elaborating, and agreeing-disagreeing, as some building tools for an authentic conversation in a classroom. He also discusses the role and level of participation of a teacher, and how she needs to aim at becoming an equal participant along with the students instead of remaining an explicit instructor.Many concepts of talk, instructional strategies, tools of conversation etc. are explained through a series of charts and graphs.

Title - Changing the Face of Reading Comprehension Instruction

Author(s) - P. David Pearson

Source - The Reading Teacher, Vol. 38, No. 8 (Apr., 1985), pp. 724-738

Published by - Wiley on behalf of the International Literacy Association

Year- 1985

Stable URL-

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Suitable Audience - Language Teachers, Students

The paper talks about the need to see comprehension as active and reader-based, where meaning from text is derived through an active engagement between the reader and the text. This view departs from a long-held traditional view which saw comprehension as a passive activity in which  meaning was completely held within the text, with no importance adhered to the reader's prior knowledge and experiences. However, recent work on comprehension calls for a shift in ways in which comprehension instructions have traditionally been provided within classrooms. Pearson elaborates on six crucial changes to make comprehension a more authentic and active process. These include changes such as redefining comprehension, changing the nature of questions to make them more open-ended and inferential, making vocabulary instructions more meaningful, understanding the similarities between comprehension and composition, using and teaching a variety of comprehension strategies as well as reimagining the role of a teacher from a mere manager of a classroom to a more active and focussed participant. Pearson roots these six changes in classroom experience, thus making them very valuable for teachers exploring more meaningful methods of comprehension instructions.

Title - Comprehension as Social and Intellectual Practice: Rebuilding Curriculum in Low Socioeconomic and Cultural Minority Schools

Author(s) - Allan Luke, Annette Woods and Karen Dooley

Source - Luke, Allan, Woods, Annette, & Dooley, Karen (2011) Comprehension as social and intellectual practice: rebuilding curriculum in low socioeconomic and cultural minority schools. Theory into Practice, 50, pp. 157-164.Published by: Wiley on behalf of the International Literacy Association

Year- 2011


Suitable Audience - Language Teachers, Students, Academicians

Difficulty Level - Moderate

As the title suggests, this paper makes a strong argument for the case that comprehension is not just a cognitive but also a social practice. For long now, deficit theories in education have viewed certain communities, knowledge systems and life-behaviours as less capable than others, putting a large number of students at a serious disadvantage. The assumed deficits in their learning patterns leave little scope for improving the students’ learning outcomes.

The truth, however, remains that many students suffer within an education system which is non-inclusive and discriminatory of their language, culture and knowledge systems. It is thus essential that an effective and relevant pedagogy for comprehension must take into account the diverse socio-economic backgrounds of children, their indigenous systems of knowledge and different learning habits and behaviours. While an explicit attention on comprehension strategies in classrooms is a welcome progress, the authors say explicit cognitive comprehension strategies alone wouldn’t ensure student learning. The paper talks about the need to root these cognitive strategies in socio-culturally relevant and substantive content which is inclusive of all children, especially those coming from socio-economically disadvantaged sections of the society.

Title – Comprehension

Authors – Valerie Ellery

Source-Ellery, V. (2009). Creating strategic readers: Techniques for developing competency in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Year - 2009

Suitable Audience - Students, Literacy Educators, Language Teachers

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link - Not Available

Comprehension strategies refer to procedures that readers use to comprehend a text efficiently, as well as to reflect on their process of comprehension. Previewing a text, activating background knowledge, questioning, inferencing and summarising are examples of such strategies. This chapter emphasises that comprehension strategies need to be taught explicitly and purposefully.

Nine comprehension strategies are described in detail through the course of this paper. The explanation of each strategy includes the rationale, statements and questions that the teacher can use to begin conversations, and two or three text related activities that can be used for imparting instructions on the particular activity. The paper is interactive, systematically arranged and full of activities, making it very useful for teachers who are trying to explore strategies and activities for enhancing comprehension instruction in their classroom.

Title - Beyond Direct Explanation: Transactional Instruction of Reading Comprehension Strategies

Author(s) - Michael Pressley, Pamela Beard El-Dinary, Irene Gaskins, Ted Schuder, Janet L.Bergman, Janice Almasi and Rachel Brown

Source -  The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 92, No. 5 (May, 1992), pp. 513-555

Published by - The University of Chicago Press

Stable URL -

Year - 1992

Suitable Audience - Researchers, Academicians

Difficulty Level - Difficult

Link - None

In recent times, there has been an advocated demand from a group of educators and researchers towards studying Transactional Comprehension Instruction. Transactional Strategies aim at helping students build a repertoire of comprehension strategies which they are adept to use in diverse conditions in order to build themselves as skilled readers.  Alongwith focusing on direct instruction of strategies, it also focuses on active and transformative transactions between teachers and students, diverse student peer groups, and between texts, curriculum and learning environments.

According to studies done in the 1970s and 80s. the traditional approaches to teaching Comprehension focused largely on students’ memory and comprehension. In comparison, Transactional instructions focuses on a much broader set of outcomes which include metacognition, reader interpretive skills of text, reader motivation, adopting ethical skills and standards for group discussions.  Observations of classrooms which have adopted this approach have exhibited positive influences on readers’ behaviors and skills. This paper discusses these components in detail, the nature and intended outcomes of Transactional Strategies, its comparison to other approaches such as Reciprocal Teaching, Whole Language Teaching, Direct Comprehension instruction etc. Finally, it advocates the need to conduct long term, responsive research on Transactional approach, instead of the short term researches done earlier to study comprehension instruction.  A robust body of research work could then guide the incorporation of the approach into school curriculum and pedagogy.

Title - The Comprehension Matrix: A Tool for Designing Comprehension Instruction

Author - Sharon Ruth Gill

Source - The Reading Teacher, Vol. 62, No. 2 (Oct., 2008), pp. 106-113

Published by - International Literacy Association and Wiley

Stable URL-

Year - 2008

Suitable Audience - Teachers, Teacher educators

Difficulty Level - Easy

Despite an increasing level of awareness and research about Comprehension strategies, its usage in classrooms has still been restricted. A possible reason could be that the overwhelming amount of information available on the topic is daunting for teachers and educators. To make the idea of designing comprehension lessons more accessible for teachers, the paper suggests the concept of developing pre-reading, during reading and post reading activities. The paper suggests that these activities should be designed keeping in mind the idea that comprehension is largely affected by three factors-reader, text and situation. Thus in all their activities,  educators should aim at activating the relationships between the reader, text and context which will best support the comprehension of the text. The paper gives us examples of a range of these activities. Towards the end, a teacher’s comprehension lessons while teaching the text Titanic is described in detail as an example.

Title - The What, Why, How, and When of Comprehension Instruction

Author(s) - James F. Baumann and Maribeth Cassidy Schmitt

Source - The Reading Teacher, Vol. 39, No. 7 (Mar., 1986), pp. 640-646

Published by - International Literacy Association and Wiley

Stable URL -

Year - 1986

Suitable Audience - Teachers, Teacher Educators

Difficulty Level - Easy

Link - None

Direct Instructional Strategies for comprehension are based on the premise that if teachers spend time in giving students direct, intensive instructions on how to comprehend, then students’ skills of comprehension can be substantially enhanced.

In this reading, the authors discuss the idea of giving Direct Comprehension Instructions by incorporating the What, Why, How and When components of instruction. The What component concerns the explaining or defining of a particular strategy explicitly, Why talks about the importance of using the particular strategy, and How explains the actual usage, steps, modeling, teaching of the strategy. The final component, i.e. the When of Comprehension Instruction also known as conditional knowledge is extremely crucial. This component helps the reader develop metacognitive skills through which she reviews her repertoire of strategies and makes a choice about which strategy to use when and where. The paper concludes by giving a detailed example of a classroom transaction which includes these four components in its Comprehension Instruction.

Title - Comprehension Instruction: What Makes Sense Now, What Might Make Sense Soon

Author - Michael Pressley

Source - Pressley, M. (2001). Comprehension instruction: What makes sense now, what might make sense soon. Reading online, 5(2), 1-14.

Year - 2001

Suitable Audience - Teachers, Teacher Educators. Researchers, Academicians

Difficulty Level - Easy

Link -

This is an extremely well written paper which usefully summarises the history of research on Comprehension, providing relevant references to the original researchers of now well understood concepts such as Decoding, vocabulary instruction, transactional reading etc. The lucidity of the paper makes it useful for a range of audience.

The reading has been structured in two parts. The first part summarizes what is already known and validated about Comprehension Instruction, through years of practice and research. Pressley elaborates on the following factors- Teaching Decoding and fluent word recognition, Vocabulary Instruction, building world Knowledge and its importance in interpreting a text, using Active Comprehension Strategies and Monitoring; as essential components of Effective Comprehension. As the author mentions, the validity of these factors is now well established and almost uncontested.

In the second part of the paper, Pressley goes on to discuss factors which are currently being made sense of by practitioners, researchers and academicians. These include factors such as introducing comprehension instruction in early years, introducing early readers to diverse texts and diverse text based activities, welcoming students’ knowledge and their interpretations of text without ignoring what can be termed as poor interpretations etc. While still being contested and researched, these factors hold the possibility of playing an important role in refining our understanding about Comprehension Instruction in the coming few years.

Title - Research on the role of Classroom Discourse as it affects Reading Comprehension

Author - Martin Nystrand

Source - Nystrand, M. (2006). Research on the role of classroom discourse as it affects reading comprehension. Research in the Teaching of English, 392-412.

Year - 2006

Suitable Audience - Researchers, Academicians

Difficulty Level - Moderate

Link -

How important are classroom discourses in supporting reading comprehension? In the paper, Nystrand takes us through the history of Comprehension and Discourses within American classrooms. The history of discourses in American classrooms is largely dominated by three methods-lecture, recitation and seatwork. The teacher plays a dominant role in all these three methods, with the students’ role and participation largely limited and their responses often contrite. Open ended, authentic conversations which build a relationship between the students, their cultural knowledge and texts are almost absent.

In recent times, an increasing number of socio-cultural and cognitive research have established the need to have rich, transactional discourses within classrooms, in small and large groups. Rich discourses around text not only enhance the understanding of textual knowledge but also promote students’ autonomy, flexibility of interpretations, sharing of cultural and world knowledge in peer groups, recognizing privilege and biases, resolving of conflicts etc. Having elaborated on the essentiality of classroom discourses, the last part of the paper discusses the need to have a greater body of research, with more innovative research designs combining a range of qualitative and quantitative methods to study Instructional Discourse and its impact on students’ Comprehension.

Title - Supporting Readers and Writers : Tools that Make a difference in Comprehending and Constructing Texts

Author - IC Fountas, GS Pinnell

SourceFountas, I. C., & Pinnell, G. S. (2001). Supporting Readers and Writers: Tools That Make a Difference in Comprehending and Constructing Texts. In r. C. Fountas, & G. S. Pinnell, Guiding Readers and Writers, Grades 3-6: Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy. (pp. 440-460). Heinemann, 88 Post Road West, PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881.

Year - 2001

Suitable Audience - Teachers, Teacher Educators, NGO practitioners

Difficulty Level - Easy

This chapter is a repository of tools and activities which can be used and adapted within classrooms to support comprehension. The activities have been provided for a range of texts, from narratives, biographies to expository texts, with the focused agenda of helping children understand the text structure, and extract and organize relevant information from the texts they read. A large part of the chapter has been dedicated to providing ideas for graphic organizers which can be used within classrooms such as story maps, comparison charts, character grids, story notes, cause and effect analysis matrix etc. The latter part gives suggestions on non-graphic pedagogical strategies such as Reciprocal Teaching, Question-Answer Methodology, Assisted Reading amongst others.
Most of the tools need active modeling and a process of scaffolding before children are able to practice them independently.  These tools are only meant to act as a supporting document of ideas. The teacher should be able to exploit or adapt them according to the needs of her students and their context.

Title - What is Reading Comprehension?

Source - Developing Reading Comprehension, First Edition. Paula J. Clarke, Emma Truelove, Charles Hulme and Margaret J. Snowling.© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Year - 2014

Suitable Audience - Teachers, Students of Education

Difficulty Level -Easy

This is an introductory chapter to a book which intends to discuss the complexities involved in reading with meaning, how and why may reading comprehension break down and what could be some possible interventions. Reading with comprehension is not just limited to effective decoding but requires sufficient vocabulary knowledge, knowledge of the world, interpretation and inferential skills amongst other things. This paper discusses three models- Simple View of Reading, the Constructivist-Integration Model and the Situation Model; which have been used to make sense of reading with comprehension. The authors alert us that while these models help us understand reading better, none of them are complete on their own and relevant for all contexts. They suggest that attention should also be paid to readers’ motivation, enjoyment and metacognition while reading when we try to understand reading comprehension, factors unaccounted for in the models mentioned.

Title - Effective Practices for Developing Reading Comprehension

Authors - Nell K. Duke and P. David Pearson

Source - Duke, N. K., & Pearson, P. D. (2009). Effective practices for developing reading comprehension. Journal of education, 189(1-2), 107-122.

Year - 2009

Suitable Audience - Teachers, other practitioners, students

Difficulty Level - Moderate


This would be a very useful reading for those interested in learning in detail about Comprehension Strategies. While taking us through the theory of creating a balanced comprehension curriculum, the paper provides the reader with ample number of strategies which can be adapted within classrooms to aide comprehension.

The chapter begins with a discussion on the characteristics of good readers, and then asks whether these characteristics can be taught to all readers?  Explicit comprehension instruction is based on the premise that all readers can be taught how to comprehend effectively. This can be done by teaching them a repertoire of strategies and providing them skills for appropriately employing these strategies independently to all genres of texts they read. The authors then take us through the idea of a ‘Balanced Comprehension Instruction’, which consists of two components- a supportive classroom context and a model of comprehension instruction. The characteristics of both these components are discussed in detail.  The second part of the paper discusses individual and collective strategies which can be embedded within the balanced comprehension programme, and an appendix also provides a tool for guiding the assessment of comprehension instruction within classroom.

Title - I read it, but I don't get it: Comprehension strategies for adolescent readers.

Authors - Cris Tovani

Source - Tovani, C. (2000). I read it, but I don't get it: Comprehension strategies for adolescent readers. Stenhouse Publishers.

Year - 2000

Suitable Audience - Teachers, other practitioners

Difficulty Level - Moderate


This book is a rich resource of strategies and activities for teaching reading comprehension to middle and high-school students. Cris Tovani explains to us the reading predicament faced by most middle school students when they are suddenly expected to read large amounts of text from different genres and comprehend them all. How can we help students who have learnt to decode to become motivated and interested readers who can construct meaning from the texts they read? Drawing from her own vast body of work with middle and high school students, Tovani writes this interactive book full of classroom anecdotes and strategies, which would be most useful and easily relatable to teachers.

The book has been divided into three parts. The first part discusses reading difficulties faced by students in middle school, such as resistance to reading, lack of attention, lack of meaning-making etc. The second part consists of multiple chapters, each chapter discussing different comprehending skills and strategies, such as finding the purpose for one’s reading, striking interactive conversations with texts, asking the right questions, connecting reading to prior knowledge etc. Every chapter consists of multiple anecdotes and a 'What works' section towards the end, giving readers a list of ideas to enhance a particular comprehending ability. The final part consists of templates and tools for many of the strategies mentioned in part two, such as different formats for double entry diaries, coding sheets etc. which can be readily adapted by teachers for their own use.