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Learning Gym: Comprehension Strategies: Basic: Before you Read

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Basic Reading: Comprehension Strategies

Before You Read


There are strategies you can use before you even start reading to help you focus and help you understand better.  In this unit, you’ll pick out at least two of these strategies that will be helpful for you.  Once you’ve mastered these strategies, you’ll be able to use them before you start any difficult reading.  

Learning new strategies is like filling your toolbox with tools.  When there’s a project to do, you go to the toolbox and get the right tools for that job.  For changing a tire you might get a wrench, but to take apart a computer you might need a little screwdriver.  When you need to read something difficult you can go to your list of reading strategies and pick out the strategies that will be the best fit for that reading.


To complete this unit, you will need to pick at least two strategies from the list below and master them.  Each strategy has a guide sheet that a coach can use to show you how to do the strategy at first.  Look at the list of strategies below and pick one that you think you would help you the most while you’re reading.  Print a copy of the strategy guide sheet and have a coach go through it with you to show you how it works.  You can click to watch a video showing you how the strategy works too.  Have a coach demonstrate again or rewatch the videos until you feel like you’re ready to try it out on your own.

(Note: There are three separate units for strategies.  They are broken up by when you do the strategy.  This unit is about before you even start reading.  The other two units are about strategies you do while you’re reading and after you read.)

Strategies List

  1. Paying Attention to Text Features: Most readings have titles.  Some have pictures.  Some have captions.  Some have headings.  This strategy will teach you some of the most important text features to look for before you start reading and what they will tell you about what to expect from the reading.

  1. Questioning: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?  That’s 5 Ws and 1 H question word.  If you ask yourself some questions before you read, you’ll be much more focused when you read because you’ll be looking for the answers.  This strategy will teach you how to use these question words to come up with questions about the reading before you start.  Then, it will show you how to use them to help you stay focused while you read.

  1. Predicting: Prediction is just a fancy word for a good guess.  Guessing helps you focus.  When you make a guess, you want to find out if you’re right.  You can make a guess about what will happen in a story, what information will be in a passage, or what someone will say in an article.  If you make a guess you’ll be more focused when you read because you’ll want to see if you were right or not.  This strategy will teach you how to look at the title and first few lines of a reading, make predictions, and use those predictions to help you focus while you read.


Now it’s your turn to try out the strategy.  Pick a reading from the recommended leveled readings or check with a coach to make sure that the reading you want to use will be a good fit for the strategy you’re practicing. Follow the strategy guide sheet for the strategy you picked from the Model section.  When you think you’ve got the strategy down and can use it without looking at the guide sheet, you’ll be ready to Apply!  To get the certificate for this unit, you'll need to master two strategies that you can use before you read.


Give your coach your Strategy Guide sheet.  Your coach will pick out a reading from the list of recommended leveled reading materials, and give it to you.  You will do the strategy for your coach and explain what you’re doing and how it’s helping you.  If you and the coach agree that you have mastered all of these things well, you’ve mastered that strategy.  Have the coach sign your Strategy Guide sheet as proof. 

When you master two Before Reading Strategies you’ll earn the Before Reading, Comprehension Strategies unit certificate!  This means that you’ll have at least two tools you can always use before you start a difficult reading to help you understand it better.