As English teachers we are always asked about literacy instruction in other subjects.  With Common Core putting Disciplinary Literacy under the English standards this message persists on an even greater level.  We have formed a small committe internally dedicated to overall literacy.  In addition, we have updated our CSAD newsletter to focus on disciplinary literacy and specific strategies per month.  We have also launched a series of new Literacy Programs designed to help integrate literacy into stimulating, real world projects.  Stay tuned for new and updated information this year.


Concept English – Thoughts on Literacy and Comprehension

Literacy Initiatives usually arise out of the need to boost overall comprehension by targeting key strategies.

Five major strategies might be considered for all Content Area teachers who are now required to teach reading as the result of the Common Core Disciplinary Literacy standards.  Think-Alouds, along with Read-Alouds, are the best way to introduce these strategies/skills.  Have you tried one or more of these?

___Teacher models think-aloud students listen.

___Teacher thinks aloud during reading and students help out.

___Students think aloud during reading and other students/teacher helps out.

___All think aloud with overhead, stick it notes, or journals.

___Small groups think-aloud together.

Predicting – This strategy asks students to anticipate key points or key events that they will be reading in order to organize and accumulate the information they are about to read.  Have you tried?:

___ Turn and Talk for 1 minute after reading the opening paragraph

___ Journals – make predictions about the 2 characters you just met or the information/thesis in the first paragraph.

___ Anticipation Guides

___ Prediction Statements

Connecting – This strategy asks student to connect the topic or information they are reading to what they already know about themselves, about other texts, and about the world.  While this takes place during the reading activities it is also strengthened by strong activation of background knowledge prior to when they begin reading.  Have you taught your students these Question Answer Relationships (QARs)?

  • Focusing on text-to-self connections:
    • What does this story remind you of?
    • Can you relate to the characters in the story?
    • Does anything in this story remind you of anything in your own life?
  • Focusing on text-to-text connections:
    • What does this remind you of in another book you have read?
    • How is this text similar to other things you have read?
    • How is this text different from other things you have read?
  • Focusing on text-to-world connections:
    • What does this remind you of in the real world?
    • How are events in this story similar to things that happen in the real world?
    • How are events in this story different from things that happen in the real world?


Often there are posters indicating these types of relationships on the wall to refer to.  Also, before you begin a reading, set the purpose and topic then brainstorm a list of connections that can be posted on the wall throughout the reading.

In addition, connecting is about making connections to key points in text by having your students think in this order:

1.     An important idea from the text: 4. The key point explained with     elaboration.
2.     A connection to what I know about or have experienced: 3.     An explanation or elaboration of this connection:


Summarizing – This strategy asks student to pull together, or synthesize information in a text so as to explain in their own words what the text is about objectively.

Fiction – structure of text does not follow the rules of informational texts.  Paragraphs and how they are organized will vary.  Students will need to use events and themes to construct a written summary.

Non-Fiction – structure will matter as well but students will need to use key points and distinguish between main ideas and supporting details to construct a written response.

Process students can use:

  • 2 Column Notes
  • Fact/Opinion Organizer
  • Concept Maps
  • Problem-Solution Multiple Perspectives


Writing this summary students will need to:

  • Examine first and last sentences
  • Use repeated words and synonyms
  • Categorize similar words and details
  • Notice transitions
  • Combine techniques
  • Identify import sections of text


Questioning – This strategy asks students to ask themselves questions that will help them focus and determine relevant information in a text while indicating where problems with comprehension lie. Teacher give students question steps (Blooms hierarchy has great ones) to encourage their on-going questions.  Students often indicate if their questions are connecting, predicting, etc.

Why did the author put ______________________ in there?

What does the word ___________ mean in this context?

Inferencing – This strategy asks students to evaluate or draw conclusions from information in a text because a writer often leaves partial information and clues that to fully understand must be inferred. Do your students know the 13 types of inferences? Again sentence starters will help:

The author says this, but means _______________________.

From the clues given, I can conclude ____________________.

If I read between the lines, the author is saying _______________________.

It is also good to pause and read-aloud:


Here are some type of inferring and predicting strategies by name you might try:


If you are interested in how to set up a scheduled program for literacy in your building, check out the attachment titles Concept Literacy 2015/2016 below.