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Reading Strategies for Non-Reading Teachers. By Jerry Burkett. But…I am not a reading teacher!. Wrong. No matter the content, we teach reading. Students cannot understand what we want to teach them without reading.

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but i am not a reading teacher
But…I am not a reading teacher!
  • Wrong. No matter the content, we teach reading.
  • Students cannot understand what we want to teach them without reading.
  • Most of the time, students understand our content but when given a test (ahem!…TAKS) they struggle with vocabulary, sentence structure, and wording….and


why do i care
Why do I care?
  • Fluency is the building block for the expertise in the things we do well. Critical marker for permanency.
  • Background knowledge is essential to help students understand the material.
  • Using prior experience helps students to build that mental model which makes connections to the text.


1. Read about it

2. Write about it

3. Talk about it

strategies for reading nonfiction
Strategies for Reading Nonfiction
  • Skim the titles and subtitles. They tell you what each section will be about.
  • Read any questions included at the beginnings of the chapter or in the margins to help you focus on the main ideas.
  • Scan for bold words. Sometimes the definitions of these key words are included in a glossary.
Use the visual aids, such as maps, charts, and graphs, to help you learn new information or to help explain what you are reading in the text.
  • Scan for italicized text. Key information is often found in italics.
  • Read any study questions at the end of the chapter. These questions will help you know what information to look for as you read. Use the titles and subtitles to predict where you might find the answers to the questions.
things good readers do
Things Good Readers Do
  • Preview
    • Look at the cover and title
    • Look at some pictures and read some of the text.
  • Question
    • Ask who, what, when, where, and why.
    • Decide if what you read makes sense.
  • Predict
    • Wonder about what will happen next
    • Make guesses and read ahead to see if your predictions are correct
    • Infer
      • Imagine the details
      • Use what you’ve read to understand what the author means
    • Relate what you’ve read to what you know, and to your thoughts and feelings
    • Compare what you’ve read to other texts and to the worlds around you.
  • Summarize
    • Organize and connect these details
    • Draw your own conclusions
  • Evaluate
    • Think about what you’ve read
    • What did you learn?
    • Was it important to you? Why or why not?
    • Did you like it? Why or why not?
how to improve reading in the content area
How to Improve Reading in the Content Area
  • Teach reading comprehension strategies
  • Match Lexile reading level (
  • Assess critical thinking skills
  • Using collaborative activities
  • Technology
  • Have an activity before and after your lesson to reinforce the skill you are teaching.
pre read activity
Pre-Read Activity
  • Have students glimpse at the reading material, in a diagonal line. They can use their fingers to trace diagonally from the indentation of the paragraph to its end.
  • Have them circle 3 words (course-based or just a “good” vocabulary term) and share them with a neighbor.
  • Have students then compile a list of the terms and define them, using their own words. You could create a class word bank with the words compiled.
  • Have students predict the content of the reading material based upon the terms. This is good for developing creativity and critical thinking skills. The students enjoy doing this and have fun with it!
during reading activity
During Reading Activity
  • Have students focus on new vocabulary terms or develop the understanding of terms previously heard.
  • Students should then develop a glossary for the reading material (concept, chapter, unit, etc.).
  • They should provide technical definitions, definitions in their own words, and definitions as they pertain directly to the reading material.

This will help them better understand

the meaning of the term.

right there questions
Right There Questions
  • Students should develop questions based on: Who? What? When? Where?
  • Answers should be found in the paragraph.
  • No “how” questions should be addressed at this point (especially in Math).
  • If the reading material is more than one paragraph, this strategy should be done for each paragraph.
post reading gist
Post-Reading - GIST
  • GIST = Generating Interactions between Schemata and Text
  • This is a summarizing technique, allowing students to summarize ideas with supporting details.
  • Passages from 2 to 4 paragraphs works best.
  • The 2 problems that will be encountered for students:
    • What to leave in…
    • What to take out…
  • Focus: Statement
    • Who?
    • What?
  • Students have 20 lines to summarize the information read. One word per line.
  • When complete, passages with perhaps 250 words can be summarized or GISTed into 20 words.
  • This strategy promotes comprehension of the material – allowing students to highlight key words and use their own language.
vocabulary card
Vocabulary Card
  • On a 4x6 index card (or in PowerPoint), students write the vocabulary word and its definition.
  • Next to the word and definition (or on the next slide), students draw a picture that connects meaning to the word.
  • On the back of the card, students write two sentences.
    • One explains what they drew and why they drew it.
    • For the second sentence, students write a statement using the term correctly.
vocabulary card visual
Vocabulary Card Visual

Word Picture


continued back of card
Continued… (back of card)
  • Sentences
    • Write a sentence explaining what was drawn and why.
    • Write a sentence using the term correctly.
vocabulary card example science
Vocabulary Card Example (Science)
  • Strata Picture
  • The plural of stratum;

A bed or layer of sedi-

mentary rock having

approximately the same

composition throughout.

continued back of card19
Continued… (back of card)


  • A slice of cake was drawn to show the layers of a cake, just like there are layers in strata.
  • Strata is a word used to describe the layers found in sedimentary rock.
vocabulary card example mathematics
Vocabulary Card Example (Mathematics)
  • Slope Picture
  • A ratio of change in

the y-values and x-values

of a line - rise over


continued back of card21
Continued…(back of card)
  • Sentences
  • A skier was used to demonstrate slope. This guy is skiing at a negative slope because he is going downhill.
  • Slope indicates the steepness of a line. It can be positive, negative, or undefined. Lines with no slope are horizontal and “no fun”.
cloze activity for comprehension and vocabulary development
Cloze Activity for comprehension and vocabulary development
  • Select a passage of reading
  • White out or create blanks where key terms appear
  • Pass out these “Cloze” passages and ask students to predict which words go in the blanks. Collect these when all students have finished.
  • Pass out the completed text and ask students to read carefully, looking for the words that were in the blanks on the Cloze. Collect the passage.
  • Pass back the collected cloze and fill in or change responses in blanks.
  • Compare pre and post results.
  • Show a copy of the completed text to the class and discuss each response. Discuss synonyms for these words.
individual group pair share
Individual/Group Pair Share
  • Assign a reading passage for each student to read.
  • After a set amount of time, divide the class into pairs or groups and have the students discuss the passage.
  • Have one students from each pair/group explain/teach the passage to the class
section experts
Section Experts
  • In groups, assign a section or passage of reading.
  • Tell the students they are the classroom “experts” on that section.
  • Have the students read the passage, discuss/write, then teach the class.