Students Reading Books

Active Reading Strategies

Nov. 11, 2020 • Studies Weekly

Grades: 1-5
Social Studies Strands: Civics and Government, Geography, Economics, History

Why: (Purpose)

  • Deep learning
    • Self-directed learning
    • Effective communication
    • Collaboration
  • Higher student achievement
    • Students are able to construct meaning from the text
    • Develop critical thinking skills
    • Reading accountability
  • Greater engagement
    • Students become involved with the text; construct meaning
    • Solidify comprehension and learning that isn’t just sitting and writing
  • Well-Being
    • No matter what level of learning students are, they can participate
    • Communication skills
    • Shared experience with peers

Active Reading Strategies help readers adjust their reading to increase comprehension. (Tim Shanahan, Sept. 23, 2016) These strategies give students a reason or purpose for reading, and answers the question: Why is reading this piece of text relevant?

We know that our minds can wander when we are reading, but giving students a reason for reading gets their minds focused. The ability to use focused concentration is a large part of a student’s success in reading.

“The teaching of such strategies has a causal impact on reading achievement. That is, there are more than 200 studies showing that the teaching of such reading approaches enhances reading comprehension on both teacher-made and standardized tests.” (Shanahan, 2016)

What: (Description of the Strategy)

Here are top Active Reading Strategies to choose from.

  • Summarizing
    • Stop during reading and sum up what you’ve read at various times while reading.
  • Questioning
    • Ask and answer questions.
    • Reread if necessary for comprehension and finding required information.
  • Visualization
    • Create a picture of what the author is telling you.
  • Background knowledge
    • What do they already know? Make connections.
    • Preview the text and the vocabulary.
  • Monitoring
    • Stop and check for understanding. Correct misunderstandings.
    • Create a plan or take action to understand the reading.

How: (How to set up the Strategy)


  • Encourage students to ask for help when they need it.
  • Encourage students to participate.
  • Follow set guidelines for the activities.


  1.  The teacher should choose the active reading strategy to focus on.
  2.  Focus on the active reading strategies one at a time, until all have been explicitly taught.
  3.  Set the expectation that every time a student reads, there is a purpose for reading.
  4.  Model and think aloud throughout the assigned reading.
  5.  Model the entire process from beginning to end.
  6.  Gradually release the strategy to the class.
  7.  Use graphic organizers to support these active reading strategies.
  8.  The student has some type of artifact to demonstrate what they are reading.

Digital Application of the Strategy:

Teachers can utilize these strategies during the reading through various digital applications, including: Google Classroom, Kahoot Quizzes, Wordles, or Padlet.

Students can model their own thinking through writing or annotating an article or paragraph; sending screenshots or images of their work to the teacher; or creating a video trailer about the reading.

Face-to-Face Application of the Strategy:

Face-to-face learning environments provide teachers with immediate feedback and reflection. In a physical classroom, students can easily work in pairs to compare and collaborate about their outcomes.

Students can still demonstrate knowledge of their reading through various digital applications.