Previewing Text

In this section, you will watch a video and read information on how to preview a text in order to familiarize yourself with its contents before you read. This will help you understand the material better and use your time more efficiently.

Reciprocal Teaching Helping Students Understand What They Read

Many school secondary teachers use an activity called "reciprocal teaching" to help struggling readers. Aimed at improving comprehension in certain subject areas, teachers and students use this strategy to enter into a dialogue where they summarize, generate questions, clarify, and predict various things about a segment of text. Teachers and students take turns leading the dialogue, such as in a group, to bring meaning to the text.

Summarizing asks the group to identify and integrate the most important information in the text – across sentences, across paragraphs, or across the passage as a whole.

Question generating engages learners in an additional step. Students first identify what information might prompt a question, then pose this information in question form, and make sure they can answer it. Questions can arise at many levels: for example, students may ask questions about supporting details or they may practice inferring or applying new information from a text.

Examples of question generating:

      • I wonder why . . . ?
      • Does this mean . . . ?
      • What about . . . ?

Clarifying helps students who have difficulty with comprehension. Asking students to clarify the text helps ensure they understand the meaning of the words it uses. Perhaps it incorporates new vocabulary, unclear reference words, or unfamiliar or difficult concepts. Students should review the text, ask for help, and take other measures to restore meaning. Sometimes it helps to read the text out loud.

Examples of clarifying:

      • Maybe it's trying to say that . . .
      • The author is trying to make us see that . . .

Predicting prompts students to hypothesize what the author will discuss next, calling on the background knowledge they already possess about the topic. This gives them a purpose for reading – to confirm or disprove their hypotheses – and allows them to connect new knowledge from the text with what they already know. The predicting strategy helps students realize that headings, subheadings, and questions in the text are useful tools for helping anticipate what might occur next.

Examples of predicting:
      • This might be about . . .
      • I think that what will happen is . . .

Examples of connecting:
      • This reminds me of . . .
      • I can relate to this because . . .

Source: Excelsior Online Reading Lab,; Coalition of Essential Schools,
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Last modified: Friday, May 13, 2022, 1:09 PM