Class Notes EDIS 771: Reading in Content Areas
Spring 1999
Thomas H. Estes, Instructor
University of Virginia

Strategies for Reading to Learn

Prereading Instruction



There are 2 distinct kinds of prereading instructional strategies-- the teacher-directed strategy and the interactive strategy. Both are aimed at getting information to the reader that will provide the background necessary to comprehension. Using the teacher-directed approach, the teacher directly explains the information the students will need-- key concepts, important vocabulary, and appropriate conceptual frameworks. Using the interactive approach, the teacher leads a discussion in which he/she draws out the information students already have and interjects additional information deemed necessary to an understanding of the text to be read. In addition, the teacher may decide to make explicit the links between prior knowledge and important information in the text.


Direct prereading instruction is very like a script, or brief lecture or "chalk talk" that teachers would read to students in preparation for their reading of a difficult text. According to Graves, et. al. (1983) a teacher-directed preview should have 3 components:

1. A framework for understanding the text to be read.

2. A brief discussion by the students about the topic of the reading.

3. Specific and general information about the content fo the upcoming text.

The interactive strategy is more engaging of the students and more dependent on their prior knowledge. The discussion is centered on what the students know already rather than on what they need to know. (One student who was accustomed to this procedure was shocked one day when his teacher left it out and tried to launch directly into the reading. "Wait," he exclaimed. "We can't read yet. You haven't told us what we know.") Taking the interactive approach does not forbid the teacher's mention of important but missing information. In addition, the teacher is free to make explicit the links between the studentās existing knowledge and the important information in the text they are about to read.


Dole, Valencia, Greer, & Waldrop (1991). Effects of two types of prereading instruction on the comprehension of narrative and expository text. Reading Research Quarterly, XXVI, 142-159.
Graves, Cooke, & LaBerge (1983). Effect of previewing short stories. Research on Reading in Secondary Schools, 6, 38-54.

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