Elementary Literacy Support

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What is reading comprehension? Comprehension is to understand and make meaning. Reading comprehension is the complex use of strategies and skills used to gain knowledge from text.


Why is it important to teach reading comprehension? Reading comprehension is a highly complicated interaction between the reader and the text. The reader’s background knowledge (schema) and strategy and skill competence determines the level at which the reader will be able to interface with the text and extract meaning.  Educators must teach essential reading strategies and a wide variety of skills to access a broad range of genres and text types.


How do you teach students to comprehend text? Modeling your own metacognition through “think alouds” is the primary way to teach comprehension to students.  Show them how to making meaning, guide them along the way and help them practice the strategies and skills until they are able to do them on their own.


What is the difference between a strategy and a skill?  While good readers use strategies all the time, skills are used only when a reader needs them. Skills can be related to strategies, but they are specific tools, unique to the demands of the text and the reader.


In the Houghton Mifflin Reading program, the following strategies and skills are taught:


Comprehension Strategies

  • Summarize
  • Question
  • Predict and Infer
  • Phonics/Decoding
  • Monitor/Clarify
  • Evaluate

Comprehension Skills

  • Fantasy/Realism
  • Cause and Effect
  • Categorize
  • Classify
  • Problem Solving
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Predicting Outcomes
  • Noting Details
  • Drawing Conclusions
  • Making Generalizations
  • Making Inferences
  • Story Structure
  • Characters, Setting
  • Plot
  • Author’s Viewpoint
  • Making Judgments
  • Sequence of Events
  • Fact and Opinion



Houghton Mifflin Resources

  • Teacher Edition – comprehension lessons
  • Student Anthologies
  • Leveled Readers
  • Extra Support Handbook
  • English Language Learners Handbook
  • Teacher’s Resource Blackline Masters
  • Challenge Activities Handbook



Information and Intervention Ideas



Professional Literature

Mosaic book


Mosaic of Thought, Second Edition by Ellin Keene


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Tovani book1


Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? By Cris Tovani


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Keene book


I Read It But I Don’t Get It by Ellin Keene and Cris Tovani


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Miller book


Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller


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Harvey book


Strategies that Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis


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