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From Striving to Thriving: Chapter 6

“We want all of our kids to become confident, thinking-intensive readers who build knowledge as they go.”  

This quote is a great summary of Chapter 6.  The focus of Chapter 6 is built around eight action steps to building thinking skills in all students.

1)  Teach comprehension strategies explicitily.
2)  Teach with the Gradual Release of Responsibility framework
3)  Use interactive read-alouds
4)  Build fluency, comprehension, and confidence
5)  Attend to signposts: text features, graphic features, and signal words and phrases
6)  Teach with images, videos, graphics, and artifacts
7)  Engage kids in temporary, flexible, needs-based small group instruction and small- group work.
8)  Share pathways to understanding through digital reading, listening, and viewing.

For this blog post, I really want to focus on teaching comprehension explicitly and using interactive read-alouds.  

Teaching Comprehension Explicitly

“Ultimately, comprehension strategies are the striving reader’s super power”

Repeated phonics instruction that isn’t focused on meaning does not help striving readers.  However, when comprehension is the focus, striving readers come to understand that reading is about making meaning (and not decoding words).  When teaching comprehension strategies, one of the first places to begin is to teach “fix-up strategies.”  

Fix-up Strategies require readers to self-monitor.  These need to be taught, but they also need to be practiced. The great thing about teaching fix-up strategies is that you can use any text to practice.  

Additional comprehension strategies that should be taught include:
  • Connecting new information to the known
  • Asking questions
  • Inferring
  • Determining important information
  • Synthesizing Information
Proficient readers use these strategies as they are reading, but striving readers do not.  When teaching these strategies the focus needs to always be to teach the strategy to bettr understand what is being read. Harvey and Ward recommend teaching several lessons on a specific strategy so they can process and practice using the strategy.  Striving readers need to see HOW the strategy helps them make sense of what they read. 

Using Interactive Read Alouds

The power in interactive read alouds is that the teacher models their own thinking.  Interative read-alouds can be used to model complex text, we also need to read aloud every day “for the sheer joy of it.”  This provides them an opportunity to be immersed in words and sounds, learn about new concepts and ideas, build curiosity, entertain them and help all students fall in love with reading!

During the read aloud, even though the students do not have a copy of the text, they can have a clipboard, sticky notes, a writing notebook, or graphic organizers, so they can write (or draw) their thinking.  This 3-column note taking form helps students think about what they are reading.  

“No pullouts during the reading block.”  

This. Is. Huge. It is important that all studnets are participating when reading strategies are being modeled.  Interative read-alouds build community, engagement, and comprehension. This is a great way for striving readers to be engaged in complex text and praticpate in discussions with their classmates.  Interactive read alouds are a time that striving readers can shine, because the teacher is reading, but they are discussing and commenting.  

Reflecting Questions

1)  Am I teaching comprehension strategies and modeling their flexible use to construct meaning?
2) Am I giving students enough time to practice strategies they have learned independently?
3) Is the student listeining to the inner conversation to monitor comprehension?
4) Is the student annotating the text in some way to keep track of their theikning?
5) Is the student using fix-up strategies to get back on track when meaning breaks down?


Literacy Without Worksheets

Teaching Reading in Small Groups: Improving Partnerships and Clubs

If you’re just joining the summer Book Study, we’re up to Chapter Five in our book, “Teaching Reading in Small Groups.” Jennifer Serravallo’s text shares strategies for differentiating instruction through the use of small groups. In Chapter Five, Jennifer shares how small group instruction can be used to improve students’ work during reading partnerships and clubs.

From Striving to Thriving: Book Match Relentlessly!

You've seen those students in your classroom - the ones who roam around looking for the "perfect book" to read. They pick up the ones that everyone else is reading, but you know they can't read them. Then they get frustrated because they just can't seem to find a good fit book. Anger sets in because they know they can't read and do what everyone else is doing. What do you do?
For some readers, we have to work extra hard to find the books they want to read. Book Matching must happen throughout the school year to help those striving readers become thriving readers!
Now that we have gained trust with our students, it's time to teach them how to find and enjoy reading at a whole new level! Though this chapter seemed like a "no-brainer" for me, I realized I had been book matching all wrong. Find out the BEST ways to get the right books in your students' hands!

Teaching Reading in Small Groups Ch.4 Strategy Lessons

Professional Reading Book Study of Teaching Reading in Small Groups by Jennifer Serravallo Chapter 4 Strategy Lessons.

The official title of Chapter 4 is Guided Practice Toward Independence: Strategy Lessons for Comprehension, Print Work, and Fluency.

To start this chapter Jennifer Serravallo talks about learning to be a clown for a high school production.  She chooses to be a plate spinning clown, which is a perfect way of thinking about teaching children in strategy groups (or really teaching in general if you think about it!)  You have to get one plate spinning on its own before you can move on to the next.  Then, you have to go back periodically and give the plate a bit of a spin to keep it moving independently.  You teach (spinning originally), Assess (go to check to see if it is still spinning) and then reinforce (give that plate another little spin to keep it going). Hence, Strategy Lessons.  These are the With (or coaching) part of teaching students independence.  You've got to keep them spinning if you want them to stay up!


Volume reading builds background knowledge, increases vocabulary, improves writing, and develops empathy.  Voluminous, engaged reading is the best intervention for struggling, striving readers. Join us as we discuss Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward's book, From Striving to Thriving.
"The best intervention is a good book."

Volume reading is crucial to transforming striving readers into thriving readers, say Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward. They believe that voluminous, pleasurable reading is the key to literacy development. In this post we'll look at Chapter Four, "Pump Up the Reading Volume." The authors discuss how voluminous reading changes lives, reasons to add more reading to our day, how to build in more reading time, and review the research.