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Professional Books: Reading Strategies: Focus on Comprehension 2/E

Reading Strategies: Focus on Comprehension 2/E

by Yetta M. Goodman, University of Arizona,
Dorothy J. Watson, University of Missouri, and
Carolyn L. Burke, Indiana University

1996 pb 256 pages
Item #517
ISBN 1-878450-86-7

READING STRATEGIES is for classroom teachers, reading specialists, and special education teachers. It has value as a textbook for graduate and undergraduate courses in reading instruction.

The first part of the book places the reading process within a language framework within a sociocultural context.

The bulk of the book is on reading strategy lessons with a focus on semantic cueing systems, syntactic cueing systems, and graphophonic cueing systems.

About the Authors

Yetta M. Goodman is Regents Professor of Education at the University of Arizona – Tucson, College of Education, Department of Language, Reading, and Culture. She has been researching miscue analysis, early literacy process, and kid watching for many years. In addition to her leadership roles in many professional organizations, she has authored and co-authored many books and articles, including Reading Miscue Inventory: Alternative Procedures, Retrospective Miscue Analysis: Revaluing Readers and Reading, and the first edition of Reading Strategies: Focus on Comprehension.

Dorothy J. Watson is Professor of Education at the University of Missouri – Columbia, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy education and is Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. A leader of many professional organizations, Dorothy has been involved in research, curriculum development, writing, and presentations in the fields of reading and language development. She is co-author of Reading Miscue Inventory: Alternative Procedures and numerous other books and articles.

Carolyn L. Burke is Professor of Language Education at Indiana University, Bloomington, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in literacy and children’s literature. She was involved in the earliest miscue research with Ken Goodman and continues to be known for her work in inquiry curriculum, reader interviews, and miscue studies. She is a co-author of Reading Miscue Inventory: Alternative Procedures and the first edition of Reading Strategies: Focus on Comprehension.


READING STRATEGIES is for classroom teachers, reading specialists, and special education teachers, it has value as a textbook for graduate and undergraduate courses in reading instruction. The first part of the book places the reading process within a language framework within a sociocultural context. The bulk of the book is on reading strategy lessons with a focus on semantic cueing systems, syntactic cueing systems, and graphophonic cueing systems.


Reading Strategies: Focus on Comprehension applies sociopsycholinguistic concepts to specific reading strategy lessons within a whole language curriculum. It documents how reading lessons are a part of a school reading curriculum that is part of reading in the larger world. This book is written for classroom and resource teachers and those planning to teach who want to keep reading embedded in a whole language context rather than focused on isolated skills. It is particularly well suited to the development of whole language reading programs that make use of a wide range of trade books and authentic reading experiences. It is appropriate for use in graduate and undergraduate courses in reading assessment, informed and authentic assessment, special education, miscue analysis, reading comprehension, and reading instruction.

The concepts behind Reading Strategies: Focus on Comprehension started to develop in 1973. It is being revised to take into consideration recent understandings about the reading process, the writing process, authentic assessment, and the development of whole language. We want to reflect the greater focus on authentic reading experiences as well as take into account authentic assessment that is evident in whole language classrooms today.

Reading researchers and theorists have been developing models of the reading process based on insights from linguistics, psychology, anthropology, and the social nature of learning throughout the twentieth century. These models are intended to help answer the questions: How do people read? How do people learn to read? What text features and instructional features affect reading and learning to read? What are the human factors concerned with social, political, linguistic, and pedagogical issues that affect reading and learning to read? What is the nature of literacy in our culture and how does this impact reading and learning to read? Teachers are constructing their knowledge about reading from stimulating dialogue taking place in the field and by actively participating in the debates. Teachers are asking, “How can I take all this new knowledge and put it to use in my classroom? How can I use my knowledge to observe students reading and understand what I hear and see? We are joining the conversation by addressing many of these questions in this book.

Our research, supported by others, has led us to believe that the reader’s focus must always be on constructing meaning, using his or her knowledge in transaction with the published text (K. Goodman 1994; Rosenblatt 1978). The reader’s proficiency in constructing meaning occurs as a natural consequence of using written language for real (authentic) purposes. Teachers who understand the importance of how readers become proficient organize a literate environment for students so that the natural reading process is nurtured. Reading instruction in school settings is greatly affected by views of literacy held by members of society at large. It is, therefore, necessary to use the latest knowledge about reading, reading instruction, and the social community to plan and develop reading programs and instruction in schools.

Reading Strategies: Focus on Comprehension has two parts. Part 1 “Reading and the Reading Curriculum,” places the reading process within a language framework in a sociocultural context. It includes our general rationale and theoretical perspective about the reading process and reading instruction. We explore the process of reading as it relates to the other language processes of listening, speaking, and writing. Language, art, music, dance, and math are among the many alternate sign systems that communicate meaning. The different perspectives which we take as we make use of alternate sign systems in exploring our world become systematized into alternate domains of knowledge (i.e., social studies, biology, humanities). We use knowledge about language, learning, teaching, and curriculum to develop a rationale for a reading curriculum in the sociocultural context of the classroom. We explain why a whole language comprehension-centered transactional reading program is the most effective way to teach and relate such a program to a whole language view of curriculum.

Part II, “Reading Strategy Lessons,” specifies instructional experiences that enable readers to become secure in their quest for meaning. The specific strategy lessons grow out of our theoretical framework using a nesting metaphor that places reading instruction in the context of all the curricular experiences in the classroom and places literacy in the learners’ world inside and outside of school. The three chapters in Part II are organized by focusing on the language cueing systems: semantic / pragmatic, syntactic, and graphophonic. The reading strategies of sampling, inferring, predicting, confirming, and integrating meaning are highlighted within each language system.

The text for each reading strategy lesson and the procedures for each literacy event are an organized classroom procedure through which individual, group, or class lessons can be presented. In addition, each organized experience explains why the lessons and events are important, describes the students whom the lesson and events will benefit, and provides additional understandings about the relationship of these procedures to sociopsycholinguistic views of language, learning, teaching, and curriculum. In this way we show that each lesson grows out of knowledge and theory. Reading Strategies: Focus on Comprehension is appropriate for teachers with varying degrees of experience and expertise in the teaching of reading. Therefore, this book may be read in a variety of ways.

For example, preservice and inservice teachers who are new to a comprehension-centered whole language view of the reading process may want to read the first three chapters and the general information that precede the strategy lessons and then select one or more students to work with who will benefit from the lessons. The specific rationale and strategy lesson is most helpful when the teacher is ready to present the lesson to students. After working with some students, the teacher will find it beneficial to read additional information about the reading process, strategy lessons, and miscue analysis listed in the references.

For those familiar with a whole language view of reading, it may be most helpful to review Chapters 1 and 2 and read Chapter 3. Then, the experienced teachers may select students with similar reading profiles, find the strategy lessons written for those students, and plan to research the effectiveness of the strategy lessons with students. Prior to presenting the lessons, these teachers may read the rationale and lesson plan for the appropriate strategies, making appropriate adjustments to their specific situations.

 Who We Are

Individually and collectively, we have had considerable experience teaching children, adolescents, and adults in elementary and secondary schools and in teacher education programs in colleges and universities. Our teaching experiences have been enriched by our research and involvement with teachers in curriculum planning and professional development. In association with Ken Goodman, we have been involved in miscue analysis research projects, taping the reading of hundreds of readers of various ages and proficiencies and analyzing the miscues in order to learn about the reading process. Our research also involves studying early literacy miscues, their personal views of reading, and the effect of these views on their reading. We also are actively involved with teachers / researchers studying literacy learning in their classrooms.

We are always relating research and theory with practice.

We believe that what is happening in whole language classrooms influences research as much as research has influenced the development of whole language. We are interested in the experiences and knowledge that support teachers of reading, as well as the experiences and materials needed to support students as they learn to read. Through our work with teachers, we have developed instructional procedures that focus on helping readers develop their strengths. All of our teaching and research experience has led us to view the reader’s search for meaning as the primary focus of reading. When reading instruction supports readers’ construction of meaning, the natural desire to make sense is legitimatized and readers’ energies are expanded productively. The reward for such effort is comprehension: the readers’ understanding of the published text. Because we are aware of the social nature of reading, we always think about reading in the broader sociocultural context of the classroom and the community. We believe that within the school the teacher plays the most significant role in helping students learn to read. No published reading materials or programs can teach students to read; these are only tools. In the hands of a master artist, good tools can be used to produce a great work of art. In the hands of an insecure or weak artist, not even superior tools are very helpful. Teachers are like artists as they construct classrooms that are innovative and conducive to learning. Artists bring to their work knowledge of perspective, color, line, form, space, and theme, as well as techniques implemented with a variety of tools. Outstanding teachers bring to reading instruction a strong knowledge base of language, learning, and teaching, and they know the cultural background and experiential differences of their students. Reading Strategies: Focus on Comprehension is organized to provide support for this background knowledge and, at the same time, offer suggestions for the selection and construction of reading materials. Teachers are decision makers. It is not our intention to tell teachers what to do. Rather, this book is an invitation to consider the information; to demonstrate the relationship between theoretical belief, language, knowledge, and practice; and to provide examples of lessons to serve as guidelines or demonstrations for teachers to use in constructing their curriculum. This is meant to serve as a guide so that teachers can use their professional judgment and adapt lessons to meet the needs of the readers in classrooms and school settings. It is often helpful to write lessons with other teachers. It is essential that teachers, adapt, modify, and personalize these lessons based on their unique personalities, their knowledge, and their theoretical views.

This work has been modified and developed through the help of many colleagues who have reviewed and critiqued our work throughout the years. We appreciate the benefit of their experience and thoughtful opinions. We are especially grateful to Nancy Browning, Marilyn Carpenter, Debra Jacobson, Ann Marek, Prisca Martens, Marilyn Richardson, Marie Ruiz, Monica Taylor, Mary Weiss, and Kathryn Whitmore and to the authors of the strategy lessons for students: Valerie Gelfat, Debra Goodman, Charlotte Hazelwood, Barry Sherman, and Irlene Sherman.

Above all, we owe a great debt to the students and their teachers with whom we have worked over the years to research and critique the strategy lessons, the literacy events, and the curriculum we propose.

Yetta M. Goodman
University of Arizona Education 504 Tucson, AZ 85721

Dorothy J. Watson
University of Missouri 216 Townsend Hall Columbia, MO 65211

Carolyn L. Burke
Indiana University Reading Department Bloomington, IN 47401

Table of Contents


Who We Are

Part I: Reading and the Reading Curriculum

Chapter 1: Reading and Reading Strategies: The Making of Meaning

Chapter 2: A Reading Curriculum: Focus on Comprehension

Chapter 3: Reading Strategy Instruction: Focus on Evaluation

Part II: Reading Strategy Lessons

Chapter 4: Focus on the Semantic / Pragmatic Cueing Systems

Chapter 5: Focus on the Syntactic Cueing System

Chapter 6: Focus on the Graphophonic Cueing System

Selected Bibliography for Teachers / Researchers