School Improvement in Maryland
English/Core Learning Goals

Effective Reading Strategies

Before Reading

Surveying the Text: Look at the text; read titles and subheadings, read jacket material, look at pictures and read captions, read the first paragraph; skim the material to determine length and format.

Accessing Prior Knowledge: Recall and consider what is known about topic, author, type of material; reflect on related experiences with content or type of text.

Formulating Questions: What is known about the text, topic, or author? What would the reader want to learn or discover from interacting with the text?

Setting Purposes: Why am I involved with this text? What do I wish to come away with? What specific strategies must I employ in order to meet my purpose?

Making Predictions: What will happen next? How will the problem be resolved? What preconceptions do I have that may be changed by interacting with this text?

During Reading

Visualizing: Make “pictures in your head” about the reading; use visual aids like maps time lines, and charts.

Making Connections: Ask yourself how this text is like or unlike others you have read; recall plots and information from other reading and viewing which correlates to this text.

Using Fix-up Strategies: Reread to build understanding; ask questions of yourself and others; analyze difficult words; paraphrase the writer's words; put the writer's main points or ideas into your own words.

After Reading

Summarize: Put the writer's main points or plot highlights into your own words; prepare a written summary to share with someone else.

Compare and Contrast: How is this text like something else you have read or seen? How is it different from other texts? What did you learn that helped you modify or clarify something you already know?

Synthesize: What information or knowledge from this text experience enlarges your understanding of yourself, others, other content? How are you different after having experience with this text?

Draw Conclusions: What is the big picture? What is your personal response? Is your response like or different from others who have read, viewed, or heard the same text? Why do you think this is so?

Validate the Purpose for Reading: Did your involvement with the text meet your expectations? Did you learn or experience what you had predicted? What specific strategies did you employ in order to meet your purpose?

Knowledge Needed to Construct, Examine, and Extend Meaning

Point of View

The point of view in any text is the personality, person, or intelligence that the author creates to relate the elements of the story, including plot, character, setting, and conflict. Students typically do not consider point of view to be an author's deliberate choice but rather objective reality.


The plot in a narrative work refers to the arrangement of action in the work as related through the point of view. It refers to the outline of events from beginning to end, emphasizing both sequence and causal relationship of actions.


A character is a person in a text. Characters should be consistent with the events in the plot, clearly motivated, and plausible within the context of the story's meaning(s). Characters are often categorized as flat, round, stock, or dynamic/developing depending on how they are treated in the plot and how they deal with conflicts.


Setting includes the time and place in which the action in a text takes place. Although often discussed in fiction texts, nonfiction texts also often have settings worthy of discussion. Those settings in nonfiction are often the same time and place as the writer's contemporary world. But in either case, setting provides a meaningful environment and plausibility for plot and character.


Conflict in a text is a clash of actions, desires, ideas, wills, or events. Conflicts may be physical, mental, emotional, or moral and may also be external or internal. They are the result of tensions developed through the interplay of plot, character, and setting.

Features of Language

Features of language that create voice and tone include sounds, words, phrases and clauses, intonation, pitch, stress, tone of voice, dialect, and regional language differences, which are specifically chosen by the author and/or director to influence the reader's, viewer's, or listener's perception regarding the deep meaning of the text.


Voice is the voice of the author or his/her creation in a particular work. It tends to be either authentic or academic.


Tone is the author's attitude toward his or her subject and the audience. A writer's tone may be comic, bitter, angry, detached, casual, or passionate, among many other possibilities. Tone is different from mood. Mood is the feeling, or atmosphere, that a writer creates for the reader.


Theme is the main thought or meaning of a literary work; the general idea arising from the particular subject which the work presents.

Universal Experiences

Universal experiences are those experiences that are common in different cultures and different time periods. For example, the love between parents and their children, grief, failure, revenge, are all experiences that cross time and cultures.

Selected Bibliography of Professional Readings

Downing, David B., ed., Changing Classroom Practices: Resources for Literary and Cultural Studies, NCTE, 1994.

Langer, Judith, ed., Literature Instruction: A Focus on Student Response, NCTE, 1992.

McCormick, Kathleen, The Culture of Reading and the Teaching of English, Manchester University Press, 1994.

Wilhelm, Jeffrey, You Gotta Be the Book: Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading with Adolescents, NCTE and College Press, 1996.