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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Developing strategies for reading

Reading strategies include processing strategies and comprehension strategies. The reading processing strategies are the “in-the-head” ways in which readers make use of the sources of information in the text to decode words. They include attending and searching (looking for particular text features or information), predicting what will be in the text (for example, words, text features, or content), cross-checking to confirm that the reading makes sense and fits, and self-correcting by searching for more information when an error is detected. Refer to pages 139–140 for more about the processing strategies that readers use.

The ways in which students learn and apply the processing strategies illustrate the importance of metacognition in literacy learning. For example, readers developing more advanced skills might need to be taught how to search for and identify technical language in a text and encouraged to cross-check its meaning using contextual information. Students whose control of the processing strategies is limited may process text in inappropriate ways, for example, by trying to sound out every single word or by making random guesses rather than using the available sources of information in the text or their own prior knowledge.

 Reading comprehension strategies enable readers not only to make sense of a text but also to think about what they are reading and enter into a mental dialogue with the author. The main comprehension strategies that proficient readers use are:

  • making connections between texts and their prior knowledge;
  • forming and testing hypotheses about texts;
  • asking questions about texts;
  • creating mental images or visualising;
  • inferring meaning from texts;
  • identifying the writer’s purpose and point of view;
  • identifying the main idea or theme in a text;
  • summarising the information or events in texts;
  • analysing and synthesising ideas, information, structures, and features in texts;
  • evaluating ideas and information.

Refer to page 152 for information about how teachers can help their students develop comprehension strategies and to pages 141–151 for information about the comprehension strategies that readers use.

Although teachers may focus on teaching one particular strategy at a time, neither processing strategies nor comprehension strategies are discrete processes to be used in isolation. Processing strategies underlie comprehension strategies – readers need to be able to use the processing strategies in order to use the comprehension strategies effectively.

Proficient readers use the processing strategies in an integrated way and use more than one comprehension strategy to make maximum meaning from text. For example, in order to infer meaning, the reader has to make connections with prior knowledge, including knowledge of other texts. The reader will also use all the processing strategies, searching, predicting, cross-checking, and self-correcting as they attend to the information in the text. The processing and comprehension strategies are employed in complex combinations, depending on the nature of the text, the reading task, and the individual learner’s pathway of development.

Strategic readers use their knowledge and their processing and comprehension strategies to find ideas and information in texts. They draw conclusions and provide evidence from the text to support their statements. They identify cause and effect, sequence ideas and information, and explore the ways in which texts use language to convey information or emotion, to persuade, or to entertain. They develop an awareness of texts that carries over to their writing.

Published on: 22 Apr 2016