Teach Comprehension Strategies
Teach students reading comprehension strategies using carefully selected texts.
A Gradual Release of ResponsibilityNell K. Duke, Ed.D.
Michigan State University
Dr. Nell Duke describes the “gradual release of responsibility” instructional approach to reading instruction, which involves explicit modeling and opportunities for guided practice leading to students’ independent use of a particular skill or strategy. (3:59 min)
- Teach students how to use several research-based reading comprehension strategies.
- Good readers use comprehension strategies including activating prior knowledge or predicting, questioning, visualizing, monitoring, drawing inferences, and retelling. Children should be explicitly taught these strategies, have them modeled by the teacher, and be given opportunities to practice them with guidance and independently.
- Teach reading comprehension strategies individually or in combination.
- Teaching reading comprehension strategies, whether one by one or in combination, improves children’s reading comprehension. Single-strategy instruction provides time for students to practice each strategy for a period of time before the next strategy is introduced. Multiple-strategy instruction introduces several strategies simultaneously to be practiced in combination. This approach helps readers learn to use strategies together from the very beginning, providing a more authentic reading experience.
- Teach reading comprehension with multiple genres of text.
- Teachers should introduce both literary and informational text to their students when teaching reading comprehension. Literary texts include narratives, which portray a story, or a sequence of related fictional or nonfictional events involving individuals or fictional characters, and poetry. Informational texts analyze or describe factual information about the natural or social world.
- Choose high-quality texts of appropriate difficulty.
- Teachers should choose texts carefully and consider both the content quality and difficulty level. Difficulty is defined by the text demands (e.g., decodability of the words, complexity of the sentences) and content demands (e.g., how complex, subtle, or abstract the information is).
- Use texts that support the purpose of instruction.
- Reading comprehension instruction serves many purposes, and the text used should fit the purpose of instruction. For example, lessons on text structure begin with a text about a familiar topic in which the structure is easy to identify. When teaching students to make predictions, select a text that is unfamiliar to students or one in which many outcomes are possible.
- Teach reading comprehension strategies by using a gradual release of responsibility.
- A gradual release of responsibility involves teachers first explaining and modeling a strategy, then giving students more and more independence in practicing and applying the strategy over time.