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My Life As a Model

I have spent much of my life as a model… of reading comprehension.

A persistent advocate of classroom read-alouds at all levels, I discovered early that one way I could help to improve reading comprehension skills (with little preparation on my part) was by simply analyzing out loud how I comprehend text while I read aloud to the class.

Students need to examine various facets in how they are understanding what they are reading, but they are rarely taught this important schema. Modeling is so easy that I don’t understand why teachers and parents don’t use it more.

Modeling is simply saying out loud what good readers do as they read. The teacher reads a selection aloud and talks out loud about what s/he is thinking. That’s all there is to it!

Here are some prompts for students to improve reading comprehension and metacognition (thinking about how they read) before, during, and after the reading. I shared this list with my students, and I often looked over it before a read-aloud to improve my own modeling.

(Exercise does usually improve a model’s career.)

Before I read:

  • I know why my teacher wants me to read this.
  • I will look over the reading and decide about how much time I will need.
  • I will remind myself about what happened in the last chapter.

While I read:

  •  I will relate the reading to what we have been discussing in class, what was learned in the previous chapter, and/or my own experiences.
  • I will make pictures in my mind of what I am reading.
  • I will take time to understand charts and graphs, which are usually visualizations of nearby text.
  • I will evaluate if I am actually understanding what I am reading.
  • I will re-read something confusing or something I read when I was distracted.
  • I will make a note of something I don’t understand.
  • I will make predictions, and later, I will confirm or deny those predictions.

After I read:

  • I will try to answer the questions presented, skimming back when necessary.
  • I will re-read the part that seems to have the answer when I am unsure.
  • I will go to another source if necessary. (Glossary, Dictionary, Internet)
  • I will summarize what I have read at the end.
  • I will decide on my own if I liked certain parts and the particular reasons for it.

To be a great model, you also need to add the  WOW!  factor:

Be loud. Be very quiet. Chuckle, or laugh heartily. Wonder. Express shock. Reminisce. Cry!


You may not earn much if you try this line of work, but the intrinsic rewards are fabulous.

Enjoy your career as a model of reading comprehension, and the kids will, too. The enjoyment truly is contagious!


There are several detailed comprehension strategies in the Novel Studies section in the

Reading Spotlight Store

You might also be interested in this set of metacognition strategy worksheets to improve comprehension schema:

Thinking About Thinking

Finally, Reading Spotlight’s FREE TIP might helpful:

A Plan For Studying



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