Reading Comprehension

Comprehension involves thinking. As there are various levels in the hierarchy of thinking, so are there various levels of comprehension. Higher levels of comprehension would obviously include higher levels of thinking. Comprehension skills may be divided in four categories: 1) literal comprehension,2) interpretation,3)critical 4) creative

Literal Comprehension: Literal comprehension represents the ability to obtain a low level type of understanding by using only information explicitly stated. This category requires a lower level of thinking skills than the other three levels. Answers to literal questions simply demand that the students recall from memory what the book says

Interpretation: This next step in the hierarchy, demands a higher level of thinking ability because questions in this category of interpretation are concerned with answers that are not directly stated in the text but are suggested or implied.

Critical Reading: Critical Reading is at the higher level as it involves evaluation, making personal judgment on the accuracy, value, and truthfulness of what is read. To be able to make judgments, a reader must be able to collect, interpret, apply, analyze and synthesize the information.

Creative Reading: Creative Reading uses divergent thinking skills and goes beyond the previous three levels. The reader tries to come up with new or alternative solutions to those presented by the author.

Strategies for Reading Comprehension

1.     Using "KWL" in the Classroom:

KWL is intended to be an exercise for a study group or class that can guide you in reading and understanding a text. You can adapt it to working alone, but discussions definitely help. It is composed of only three stages that reflect a worksheet of three columns with the three letters:

What we

what we

what we


Want to











K stands for Know

Think first about, then list, what you know about the topic before reading! This advanced organizer provides you with a background to the new material, building a scaffold to support it.

Think of it as a pre-reading inventory.

Brainstorm! Before looking at the text, think of keywords, terms, or phrases about the topic, either in your class or a study group.

Record these in the K column of your chart until you cannot think of more.

Engage your group in a discussion about what you wrote in the K column.

Organize the entries into general categories.

W stands for Will or Want

The second stage is to list a series of questions of what you want to know more of the subject, based upon what you listed in K.

Preview the texts table of contents, headings, pictures, charts etc o Discuss what you want to learn

List some thoughts on what you want, or expect to learn, generally or specifically. Think in terms of what you will learn, or what do you want to learn about this.

Turn all sentences into questions before writing them down. They will help you focus your attention during reading.

List the questions by importance.

L stands for Learned

The final stage is to answer your questions, as well as to list what new information you have learned. Either while reading or after you have finished.

List out what you learn as you read, either by section, or after the whole work, whichever is comfortable for you.

Check it against the W column, what you wanted to learn

Create symbols to indicate main ideas, surprising ideas, questionable ideas, and those you don‘t understand!

2.     5 W's and an H Who What When Where Why and How

Who are the main characters?

What does the author say happened?

Where did the action occur?

When did it happen or what is the span of time?

Why did this happen?

How did it happen?

3.     SQ3R technique. SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review.

Survey: Gather the information you need to focus on the work and set goals. Read the introduction or summary to see what the author thinks are the key points

Question: Help your mind to engage and concentrate. Your mind is engaged in learning when it is actively looking for answers to questions. Try turning the boldface headings into questions you think the section should answer.

Read: Read the first section with your questions in mind. Look for the answers, and make up new questions if necessary.

Recall: After each section, stop and think back to your questions. See if you can answer them from memory. If not, take a look back at the text. Do this as often as you need to.

Review: Once you have finished the whole chapter, go back over all the questions from all the headings. See you if can still answer them. If not, look back and refresh your memory.

4.     Story Star

Story Star is a strategy that helps students to build a framework for understanding and remembering a narrative. Story Stars:

·      provide a useful visual outline for analyzing narratives

·      provide a means to organize information

·      reinforce key elements of a narrative

·      provide a clear model for writing summaries and responses to narratives they have read

After students have read a story or a different narrative, give students a blank Story Star like the one below. Have them fill in the key information in dot points.

5-pointed Story Star Diagram Printout: Graphic Organizers -


Students can then report orally or in written form about their understandings gained from the text. They can develop a meaningful summary, linking together key information from the Story Star to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the text.

5.     Reading styles:

There are three styles of reading which we use in different situations:

Scanning: for a specific focus- The technique is used when one is looking up a name in the phone book: in this one moves his / her eye quickly over the page to find particular words or phrases that are relevant to the task being done.

It's useful to scan parts of texts to see if they're going to be useful to you:

·      the introduction or preface of a book

·      the first or last paragraphs of chapters

·      the concluding chapter of a book.

Skimming: for getting the gist of something- This technique is used when one is going through a newspaper or magazine: in this technique an individual quickly reads to get the main points, and skip over the detail. It's useful to skim:

·      to preview a passage before you read it in detail

·      to refresh your understand of a passage after you've read it in detail.

Use skimming when you're trying to decide if a book in the library or bookshop is right for you.

Detailed reading: for extracting information accurately- Where you read every word, and work to learn from the text. In this careful reading, you may find it helpful to skim first, to get a general idea, but then go back to read in detail. Use a dictionary to make sure you understand all the words used.

·      Underlining and highlighting: Pick out what you think are the most important parts of what you are reading. If you are a visual learner, you'll find it helpful to use different colours to highlight different aspects of what you're reading.

·      Note key words: Record the main headings as you read. Use one or two keywords for each point. When you don't want to mark the text, keep a folder of notes you make while reading.

·      Questions: Before you start reading something like an article, a chapter or a whole book, prepare for your reading by noting down questions you want the material to answer. While you're reading, note down questions which the author raises.

·      Summaries: Pause after you've read a section of text. Then:

Put what you've read into your own words; Skim through the text and check how accurate your summary is and Fill in any gaps

6.     Self Monitoring Approach to Reading and Thinking (SMART):

SMART is a strategy that helps students to think about how their reading is proceeding. It assists students in knowing what sorts of questions they need to ask themselves during the reading of a text to gain meaning. SMART is based on the idea that effective reading starts with recognizing what is understood and not understood in a particular text. SMART:

·      provides students with a system for monitoring their reading success

·      allows students to verbalise what they do and do not understand about a text

·      encourages students to persist until a text is understood

·      provides clear steps to clear up misunderstandings

·      involves students in summarising the text in their own words

·      helps them to remember key ideas in a text

Read: Read a section of the text. Using a pencil, place a tick next to each paragraph that you understand. Place a question mark (?) next to each paragraph that contains something you do not understand.

Self-Translate: At the end of each section, stop and explain to yourself, in your own words, what you read. Lookback at the text as you go over the material.


Troubleshoot: Go back to each doubt (?) and see if you can make sense of the paragraph.

Re-read: Re-read the trouble spot to see if it now makes sense. If it still does not make sense, pinpoint a problem by figuring out why you are having trouble.

Try a Fix-Up Strategy: Use the glossary or some other vocabulary aid. Explain to yourself exactly what you do not understand or what confuses you. Get Help. Ask a friend or your teacher.

This strategy is adaptable to most subject areas and is effective in cooperative learning groups.

7.     Story Map

Used to chart the story structure. These can be organized into fiction and nonfiction text structures. For example, defining characters, setting, events, problem, resolution in a fiction story; however in a nonfiction story, main idea and details would be identified.


8.     Graphic and semantic organizers

Graphic organizers illustrate concepts and relationships between concepts in a text or using diagrams. Graphic organizers are known by different names, such as maps, webs, graphs, charts, frames, or clusters.

Regardless of the label, graphic organizers can help readers focus on concepts and how they are related to other concepts. Graphic organizers help students read and understand textbooks and picture books.

·      Help students focus on text structure "differences between fiction and nonfiction" as they read

·      Provide students with tools they can use to examine and show relationships in a text

·      Help students write well-organized summaries of a text