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Comprehension Strategies for K-2
by Michele Polselli


Planting a Literacy Garden

View this Power Point when teaching Comprehension Strategies.



Making Connections/Schema


Determining Importance

Digging For Meaning

        In 2004 I began attending a 3-year Literacy Coaching Class at our
 local educational collaborative that offered the opportunity to work collaboratively
with my colleagues to become part  of a statewide initiative sharing
 best practices teaching comprehension strategies in a lab classroom setting.

1.We have extended the repertoire of strategies for district colleagues,
    preservice teacher candidates and enable others to view and glean
    current best teaching practices and strategies that in turn impacts our
    student’s ability to earn and develop comprehension strategies.

2. Through integrating content areas, we help to infect all involved educators
     in more effective, child-relevant curriculum design while finding ways to
     include rigorous science instruction in this time of mandated time schedules
     to meet the criteria of No Child Left Behind.

3.  Having visitors has helped because the positive feedbacks at post
     observations have authenticated many of our choices and/or given
     us ideas for fine-tuning this approach.

Student achievement is impacted in several ways

1. The hands on science activities are both motivating and stimulating for children
    as they read and write about gardening and respond to other literature. 

2.  We drive instruction with the use of hands-on developmentally appropriate
    tools that include all learners because we combine “tools”, sunglasses (for visualizing),
    seeds (relate to prior knowledge/schema), plastic shovels (to model digging for meaning),
    rakes (for questioning), hoes (help us determine importance), watering cans
    (are the synthesizing agent), and a picture of the sun (shines light on inferring),
    with the acknowledgement of the student’s prior knowledge of gardening.
    Students can’t wait to get their hands dirty, use real tools, and produce/nurture
    the real-life garden.

3. I invite parents as partners into the classroom to model effective literacy practices so they can  continue to model the same language at home.

This teaching theme is a developmentally appropriate hands-on
learning sequence, designed for teachers in the early primary grades (K-2)
 who want to incorporate comprehension strategies into their literacy curriculum.
To better understand the comprehension strategies used to enhance
 your literacy curriculum, begin by reading these books as reference.
Click to buy these books:

Mosaic Of Thought by Ellin Oliver Keene.

Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis

Starting With Comprehension by Andie Cunningham and Ruth Shagoury.

Seven Keys to Comprehension by Susan Zimmermann and Chryse Hutchins

Kid Writing Strategies developed by Feldgus and Cardonic. 

Before beginning each lesson, teach your students this song
 to help them remember the strategies.

I Have A Box of Tools

Strategy Websites


Books for Visualizing


Books for Making Connections


Books for Questioning


Books for Inferring


Books for Predicting


Books for Synthesizing

Worksheets to use with any of the read alouds above.
Make this book for your primary students before you begin your journey toward
developing comprehension strategies.  All these files were created
with Microsoft Word.  They are designed mainly for Kindergarten age students, but you can tweak them to fit your age level.  Save them on your hard drive and print from there.

bullet Cover

Use this poem to help students
make connections between
the comprehension strategies
and gardening!

bullet (Page 1, Literacy Garden Grid),

Using this grid, students will color each section to show which page they have completed.

 (Page 2, My Favorite Book),

After reading many selections, have students choose their favorite book to illustrate and write about.


(Page 3, Fairy Tales)

After reading several fairy tales, have students choose a favorite one to illustrate and write about.

bullet (Page 4, My Favorite Author),

After reading books by several authors, have students choose their favorite author and draw a picture of
their favorite authors book.

bullet (Page 5, My Favorite Poem)

After reading several poems, have students choose their favorite poem to illustrate and write about.


 (Page 6, Inferring)

 Have students write about an idea that an author wants them to know that was not presented literally in the text.

(Page 7, Questioning)

Have students write one lingering question about the read aloud.


(Page 8, Synthesizing)

Have students write about a new idea they have conceived after a read aloud or reading alone.


bullet (Page 9, Visualizing)

To help your students visualize words while reading aloud, have them wear a pair of child's sun glasses.

bullet Page 10, Determining Importance

Have students look at maps, charts and graphs
to help determine the importance of the text.


Page 11, Making Connections/Schema

Have students make a connection to their past as you read aloud.


bullet (Page 12,  Biography)

Have students write about one favorite person in their life.

bullet (Page 13, Auto Biography)

Have students write about their lives.

bullet Page 14.  My Memoir

Have students remember one moment of time in their lives
and capture that in a picture and a short paragraph.


Kid-Writing Lessons using Comprehension Strategies

Egg Quest
 (Life Science Lesson)

KWHL Chart (Making Prior Connections) Visualizing &Schema
Questioning Predicting



Whales and Dolphins
 (Life Science Lesson)

KWHL Chart  (Making Prior Connections) Visualizing&Schema
Questioning Synthesizing



Water Wonders
(Physical Science and Math Lesson (Measuring)

KWHL Chart  (Making Prior Connections) Visualizing & Schema
Questioning (Hypothesis)  

Click here on the Strategies page to help you understand what guiding relevant factors you should consider when teaching.  For a word document to print of the Strategies, click here

To help students understand the strategies, give each child their own tool belt. I bought individual tool belts at Home Depot for 99 cents.  Inside the tool belts I neatly placed various plastic gardening tools. Each tool is a tactile representation of each strategy.  On each shovel (digging for meaning) I taped twenty-five every day functional sight words that  students can use when they Kid Write.  As students "dig for the meaning of the story" they use the words on the shovel to help write sentences.


View the twenty five sight words here.
I bought little boxes shaped like flowers and inside I placed words students use to write their stories.  Each box contains words based on a particular strategy.
Click on the word list below to print out a copy of the words to place in your flower boxes.

Words for Questioning     


Books to use for Questioning

I explain to students, as rakes push dirt aside and leave gaps in the ground, unanswered questions leave gaps in our understanding.  These gaps in one's understanding can be filled by asking questions.  Words students use to ask questions can be found in the Questioning Box.

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Words for Inferring


Books to use for Inferring

As students dig for meaning and ask questions, making inferences leads them to
understanding the idea the author wants the reader to know without writing it in the text.
Words to help students to infer are in the Inference box.

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Words for Visualizing

Books to use for Visualizing

As students listen to a read aloud, or as read text, have them wear sunglasses.
The importance of visualizing and seeing the picture playing in their mind is heightened and brought to life with by the glasses.

Use these Rubrics on the left developed by Ellin O. Keene to help you assess your students literacy development while teaching comprehension strategies.  I have created Rubrics for Kindergarten levels on the right.

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Rubric for Visualizing    Kindergarten Rubric for Visualizing
Rubric for Questioning   Kindergarten Rubric for Questioning
Rubric for Inferring       Kindergarten Rubric for Inferring
Rubric for Determining Importance      Kindergarten Rubric for Determining Importance
Rubric for Retelling     Kindergarten Rubric for Retelling
Rubric for Synthesizing Kindergarten Rubric for Synthesizing
Rubric for Monitoring Comprehension  Kindergarten Rubric for Monitoring Comprehension
Rubric for Think Alouds   Kindergarten Rubric for Think Alouds
Rubric for Using Schema  Kindergarten Rubric for Using Schema

                                 If you are looking for more ideas on building comprehension strategies with your students please visit the Mosaic Listserve at Reading Lady and click on their
Teaching Tools page for many more ideas from teachers.  I have found many interesting lessons there and I have shared many of my ideas with teachers on the Mosaic Listserve.  Click here "Mosaic Listserve Database" to view teacher created lessons with particular books listed by strategies. 

After I created Planting A Literacy Garden, I created a website that uses Eric Carle's books. If you are interested in integrating technology into your literacy curriculum while studying Eric Carle as an author,  click on  Carleworks below.  Lessons were created that integrate technology based on building five literacy skills of Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency and Comprehension.  The website contains a Power Point to help develop the skills.


Please feel free to use any of my work and email me and let me know if this has made an impact on your students learning. Thanks for visiting!

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Last updated: 12/30/05.