from Strategies That Work, Mosaic of Thought, and Reading with Meaning, this page gives you information on the six comprehension strategies known as making connections, questioning, visualizing, inferring, determining importance, and synthesizing.



Comprehension Strategies

I used the anchor lessons found in  Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement and Reading With Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades to teach the six comprehension strategies listed above. Those books were my "bible" for teaching comprehension.  Below are more resources that will help you plan comprehension instruction!

Some tips for teaching these comprehension strategies:

  • Model each strategy whenever you are reading text to or with children, such as during a read aloud, guided reading, content area text, independent reading, etc.

  • Keep anchor charts of your thinking as well as students' thinking. 

  • If you are going to use post-it notes, as mentioned in many books, please keep in mind that children will overly concentrate on the post-it notes instead of the strategies themselves.  Although post-it notes are great ways to jot down their thinking, expose them to other ways of recording their thoughts, such as a reader's response journal, T-charts, graphic organizers, etc.


Picture Book List for Modeling Strategies Strategy Use Tracking Sheet Reading Strategies Rubric View the new edition of Strategies That Work online (limited time).
Study Guide for old edition of Strategies that Work Major Point Interiews for Readers Definitions of Strategies Year Long Plan
Mosaic of Thought Study Guide Reading Comprehension Strategies Chart Strategies We Use Comprehension Strategies Chart

Children make personal connections with the text by using their schema (background knowledge).  There are three main types of connections we make while reading text.

  • Text-to-Self (T-S) refers to connections made between the text and the reader's personal experience. 

  • Text-to-Text (T-T) refers to connections made between a text being read to a text that was previously read.

  • Text-to-World (T-W) refers to connections made between a text being read and something that occurs in the world.

It is important to activate children's schema (background knowledge) before, during, and after reading.

Text-to-Self Sheet Schema Lesson Making Connections Lessons Making Connections Cue Card
Double Entry Journal Text-to-World Sheet Text Connections Making Connections Lesson
Text-to-Self  Lesson Text-to-Text Lesson Text-to-World Lesson Text-to-World Lesson 2
Making Connections Page Using Connections Poster Making Connections Conference Sheet  

Questions help students clarify and deepen understanding of the text they are reading.  Teachers should model coding of the different types of questions.

Codes for questions vary according to different authors and books on comprehension strategies. Use codes that suit your students' needs. 

You can even create your own codes with your students' help!

Look at this page for more information on this questioning strategy.

Another questioning strategy that is similar is Question-Answer Relationships (QAR).  Click here for more information.

Example of Thinking Aloud for Questioning Lesson Questioning Plans Four Types of Questions Questions Form (I Wonder/I Think)
Questioning Web Thin and Thick Questions Lesson Questioning the Text Questioning Toolkit
Question Strategy Lessons 25 Mini-lessons on Questioning Unit of Study on Questioning Thick and Thin Projects
Asking Questions Thinkmark Asking Questions Chart Questioning Board Asking Relevant Questions
QAR Sheets QAR Lesson QAR Prompts QAR Article
Questioning Mini-Lessons

  • Mental pictures are the cinema unfolding in your mind that make reading three-dimensional.

  • Visualization helps readers engage with text in ways that make it personal and memorable. 

  • Readers adapt their images as they continue to read.


Research paper on Visualization Professional Development Article on Visualization Guided Comprehension Visualization Lesson
Mind Pictures Visualization with Poetry Mental Images Plan Sensory Imagery Graphic Organizer

Usually referred to as "reading between the lines".

This strategy usually involves:

  • Forming a best guess using evidence -- context clues, picture clues, etc.

  • Making predictions

  • Drawing conclusions

  • Finding meaning of unknown words


Making Inferences Suggested Activities for Inferring Inference Rubric Inferring Unit of Study
Difference between Predicting and Inferring Inferring Word Chart Simple Sentence for Inferencing Inferring Poem
Inferring Mini-lessons

People are bombarded daily with information.

Knowing the purpose for reading helps determine what's important.

Reader's need to distinguish between:

  • Fiction and nonfiction

  • Important from unimportant information

This strategy works great in conjunction with a nonfiction unit of study.

Determining Importance Notes for Teachers Determining Importance Determining Importance Note Taking Form Determining Importance Handout
Nonfiction Unit of Study Nonfiction Conventions Notebook    

Thinking evolves through a process.    Reader's thinking changes as they gather more information.

New information makes the reader re-evaluate their schema to form new schema.

Here is an excellent picture of synthesis.  Click to enlarge.

Synthesizing Notes for Teachers Synthesizing and Retelling Synthesis Strategy Record/Edit/Synthesize/Think (REST) Strategy


Books on Comprehension Strategies
(Place mouse over images for more information.)


Easy read on comprehension. Written for parents but very useful for teachers!

One of my favorite books!

The book that started it all!!

Great book on how to deepen comprehension-- goes beyond the six strategies.