<<MyRead Home    List of Guides



Ruth Crilly

Monitoring and Assessment

Four Resources Guideposts

First Steps Reading Developmental Continuum

Self and Peer Assessment

Classroom Organisation

Engagement: Empowering Teachers with Successful Strategies

The Three Stages Of Reading strategy involves teaching students to delve into text. The Before Reading stage provides a scaffold for new concepts and vocabulary, promotes engagement and provides a means for prediction. The second stage, During Reading, allows students to integrate the knowledge and information they bring to the text with ‘new’ information in the text. The last stage, After Reading, allows students to articulate and process their understanding of what they have read and to think critically about the validity of the text.

Engagement: Engaging Students in Purposeful Social Practices


Three Stages Of Reading


First Kill by Alan Marshall

  • integrates the Four Roles/Resources of the Reader
  • may be used with a variety of texts
  • scaffolds reading across curriculum areas
  • engages students with text, making connections with prior knowledge and experience with new information
  • engages students in discussion, exploring issues raised in text
  • engages students with texts which challenge rather than ‘talk down’ to them
  • is a recount with suspense, violence and action which engage students, particularly boys, in years 5-9
  • links to English through study of issues
  • connects to Science through study of a topical environmental issue
  • has a complexity of language which challenges students, promotes higher order thinking and problem solving, and extends students to develop new skills with the assistance and support of the teacher

Four Roles/Resources of the Reader

Based on the Four Roles/Resources of the Reader developed by Freebody and Luke (1990), Three Stages Of Reading involves students in the following repertoire of purposeful social practices:

Code breaker

Decoding the codes and conventions of written, spoken and visual texts, eg:

  • focuses on particular vocabulary and specialised terminology in texts
  • develops a range of decoding strategies (semantic/syntactic)
  • carefully reads and rereads the text focusing on specific wording
  • uses headings/pictures to predict storyline

Text user

Understanding the purposes of different written, spoken and visual texts for different cultural and social functions, eg:

  • uses an understanding of author purpose to determine the main facts and to organise information from the text
  • draws on a range of sources to synthesise information and express points of view and generate new questions about the text
  • understands how a text can be used to convey particular meanings effectively through writing a meaningful summary

Text participant

Comprehending written, spoken and visual texts, eg:

  • Constructs meaning through the Before Reading stage so that reading of the text becomes more predictable
  • monitors predictions
  • links text ideas to real life issues
  • interprets relationships of characters portrayed in the text
  • draws on background and prior knowledge to construct meaning from text
  • responds to texts on a personal level

Text analyst

Understanding how texts position readers, viewers and listeners, eg:

  • examines the writer’s point of view and develops own position on the text
  • develops a critical response to the text
  • presents an alternative position to the one taken by the text or decides to endorse the position taken by the text
  • explores how the writer influences reader perceptions

Four Resources Guideposts

Three Stages of Reading Guideposts are a useful assessment tool.

Implementing the Strategy

Three Stages Of Reading using First Kill

Texts used in the middle years often have language, syntax, vocabulary and concepts specific to a particular area of study. Students need to be taught how to decode, understand, comprehend and analyse a range of texts. Setting students the task of reading a text does not help them to learn how to purposefully use the Four Roles/Resources of the Reader to construct meaning from specialised texts related to particular subject areas.

Teachers need to prepare students and guide them through texts so that they will learn more effectively. The Three Stages Of Reading strategy can be used to scaffold student reading of texts. The strategy can be used with a variety of texts across curriculum areas.


Downloads are in Microsoft Word format.

Download and copy First Kill or select a text relevant for your students and curriculum area.

Download Word Splash

Download Possible Sentence Sheet

Download Data Chart

Before Reading Stage

One of the purposes of Before Reading is to acknowledge the different experiences and background knowledge that students bring to a text, influencing how they will read and learn from a particular text. By knowing what students bring to a text the teacher can provide students with appropriate scaffolds to make links between what is already known and new information presented in a text.

Before Reading also promotes engagement and interest by providing students with a means to predict text content. Before Reading is critical for comprehension to occur. For example, the class may be planning to read First Kill as part of an issues topic or environmental topic. It is important for teachers to articulate to students the purpose for reading particular texts. Two tools that can be during this stage are Word Splash and Possible Sentences.

Word Splash

Word Splash provides a useful framework for eliciting student prior knowledge before reading. Word Splash:

  • encourages and develops prediction skills
  • sets the scene
  • is designed to develop a sense of discovery
  • explores connections and speculates on possibilities
  • focuses in on topic or issue
  • is a useful tool for group/pair sharing
  • can be designed to support underperforming students

Creating a Word Splash

  1. Read through the text.
  2. Decide on key words, phrases and concepts in the text that will provide cues for your students or that may need clarification.
  3. Type or write and copy for individual students or small groups.
  4. Once distributed allow students a few minutes to read through and discuss with others the listed words and phrases. They may ask others for clarification or elaboration of some items. Allow them to make predictions about the text in their groups.
  5. Bring students back together and ask them for their predictions, encouraging all students to contribute.

A rich assortment of predictions will be offered. Some predictions may be challenged. Teachers may ask questions such as, ‘What made you think of...?’ The purpose of prompting questions is to encourage students to interact both to share and to extend their understandings of what the text may be about.

Classroom ground rules need to be established for students to participate and offer predictions. For example, students need to be respectful of each other’s predictions, taking care not to embarrass or belittle group members as they read and make associations and predictions based on prior knowledge.

Possible Sentences

Possible Sentences encourage students to draw on their background experiences and knowledge to construct predictions for a text. It is a tool to help students to process key words in a text before they begin reading. Possible Sentences:

  • familiarise students with context and concepts
  • encourage prediction about the probable meaning of a text
  • make reading meaning centred
  • allow students to be actively engaged in making predictions about the major ideas of a text
  • stimulate curiosity about the text
  • allow students to share what they know about information before they read with other students
  • compare their attempts with the sentences in the text thus providing a purpose for reading
  • develop cooperative and collaborative skills

Procedure for Implementing Possible Sentences

  1. Read through the text.
  2. Select a list of key words (12-15) from the text, some familiar and some that may cause difficulty.
  3. Display the words and discuss meanings with students. Ask students to predict meanings or ways the words will be used in the text.
  4. In pairs or small groups, students compose Possible Sentences (that they feel may be in the text) using at least two of the listed words. Underline the key words.
  5. The class comes back together to share their developed sentences, making comparisons and relevant comments. Ensure that all words are included in at least one sentence.
  6. Post the Possible Sentences in the classroom.

During reading encourage students to watch and listen for the words to determine if their Possible Sentences were accurate. Comment on any similarities or differences in meaning or use.

It is important to address inaccurate predictions in ways that don’t belittle wrong answers and encourage future attempts. They can evaluate each Possible Sentence in terms of whether it is true (the text backs up the prediction), false (the text presents a different use of the word), or don’t know (the sentence can be neither proved or disproved based on the text).

During Reading Stage

During this stage of the reading process students need structured means to integrate the knowledge and information they bring to the text with the ‘new or unknown’ within the text. They are processing the text and self-monitoring.

Throughout the During Reading Stage students should have the opportunity to confirm predictions, gather and organise information, and to begin making generalisations about new understandings gained from the text. Two tools that can be during this stage are Data Charts and Self-Monitoring Approach to Reading and Thinking (SMART).

Data Charts

Data Charts are a visual organisational note-taking tool that can be used by individuals, partners or groups of students to take notes. They are an effective way for students to organise information and help students generate meaningful questions on which to focus their reading. Data Charts:

  • provide students with clear areas of focus when reading
  • can be used with a wide range of text types
  • help to reorganise key points in students’ own words
  • are a useful strategy for recording the main facts
  • provide useful assessment information
  • encourage selection of appropriate information to confirm predictions
  • provide guided practice in synthesising and summarising information

Using Data Charts

After students have done a pre-reading activity related to the text, have them come up with some possible questions to explore from the text. Ask students to choose three or four of the most interesting questions to write on their charts. These will provide a focus for their reading.

Have students record the chosen questions in the boxes along the top. Beneath each focus question students jot down what they think they already know, using the first row. It is important that they make use of their prior knowledge. This process also uncovers any misconceptions about a topic that will be confronted as students read the text.

As students read through the text they make notes under each of the focus questions.

Ask students to summarise information for each focus question, deciding on main idea statements and organising pertinent information.

In the example First Kill, possible focus questions may be:

  • Why are they shooting the kangaroo?
  • Why is it called First Kill?
  • What was the struggle?
  • Who is fighting and why?
  • Who are the characters in the story?
  • Who is doing the shooting?
  • What is the setting for the text?
  • What is exciting and why?

Students may wish to respond to additional questions that occurred to them, which can be added to the new questions column. For researching a topic extra rows or grid boxes can be added for entering information from a range of sources under focus headings or questions. Sources may include background knowledge, the text, the data chart and other research.

Self Monitoring Approach to Reading and Thinking (SMART)

SMART is a strategy that helps students to think about how their reading is proceeding. It assists students in knowing what sorts of questions they need to ask themselves during the reading of a text to gain meaning. SMART is based on the idea that effective reading starts with recognising what is understood and not understood in a particular text. SMART:

  • provides students with a system for monitoring their reading success
  • allows students to verbalise what they do and do not understand about a text
  • encourages students to persist until a text is understood
  • provides clear steps to clear up misunderstandings
  • involves students in summarising the text in their own words
  • helps them to remember key ideas in a text


Model the strategy to the students, thinking aloud bits you find confusing. Tell students that there is something you don’t understand. Introduce SMART using the protocols below.

1. Read

Read a section of the text. Using a pencil, place a tick next to each paragraph that you understand. Place a question mark (?) next to each paragraph that contains something you do not understand.

2. Self-Translate

At the end of each section, stop and explain to yourself, in your own words, what you read. Look back at the text as you go over the material.

3. Troubleshoot

Go back to each (?) and see if you can make sense of the paragraph.

4. Re-read

Re-read the trouble spot to see if it now makes sense. If it still does not make sense, pinpoint a problem by figuring out why you are having trouble:

  • Is it a difficult word or unfamiliar vocabulary?
  • Is it a difficult sentence or confusing language?
  • Is it a subject about which you know very little?

5. Try a Fix-Up Strategy

  • Use the glossary or some other vocabulary aid.
  • Look over the pictures or other graphics.
  • Examine other parts of the text.
  • Explain to yourself exactly what you do not understand or what confuses you.
  • Get Help. Ask a friend or your teacher.

This strategy is adaptable to most subject areas and is effective in cooperative learning groups.

After Reading Stage

During the After Reading stage students articulate and process their understanding of what they have read and think critically about the validity of the text. Two tools that can be during this stage are Paired Reviews and Story Stars.

Paired Reviews

This strategy provides students with practice in summarising what has been read and learned. Students work with a partner, taking turns in being the ‘talker’ and the ‘listener’, reviewing a text that has been read. Paired Reviews:

  • enhance clarifying and paraphrasing skills
  • develop listening skills
  • give students time to process what they are learning
  • help students remember new information
  • encourage reflection on own learning
  • encourage students to verbalise their understandings about text
  • allow students to respond to texts through feelings and ideas

Procedure for Paired Reviews

  • Pair students as Partner A and Partner B.
  • Partner A begins by recounting something interesting from the text and talks for 60 seconds, while Partner B listens.
  • After 60 seconds tell them to ‘Switch’ and change roles. Partner B cannot repeat anything said by A
  • When Partner B has spoken for 60 seconds, partners switch again. Now Partner A has 40 seconds to continue the review. Stipulate that nothing stated already can be repeated. After 40 seconds announce ‘Switch’ where Partner B gets 40 seconds.
  • Follow the same procedure allowing each partner 20 seconds to recap.
  • This strategy is a quick way for students to summarise their understandings about a text. The no-repeat rule forces partners to really listen and think carefully about what they can say. Time periods can be adjusted to fit the needs of the students. When the activity is completed questions or confusions can be addressed.

Story Star

Story Star is a strategy that helps students to build a framework for understanding and remembering a narrative. Story Stars:

  • provide a useful visual outline for analysing narratives
  • provide a means to organise information
  • reinforce key elements of a narrative
  • provide a clear model for writing summaries and responses to narratives they have read

After students have read First Kill or a different narrative, give students a blank Story Star like the one below. Have them fill in the key information in dot points.

story star

Students can then report orally or in written form about their understandings gained from the text. They can develop a meaningful summary, linking together key information from the Story Star to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the text.

By guiding students through the three stages of Before Reading, During Reading and After Reading, teachers can support student understanding of content and provide them with opportunities to develop their comprehension and vocabulary skills.


Baker, G. & McLoughlin, R. (1994). Writing in the Subject Areas. Melbourne: LLP.

Buehl, D. (2001). Classroom Strategies for Interactive Learning. Delaware. USA: International Reading Association.

Harris, J., Turbill, J., Fitzsimmons, P. & McKenzie, B. (2001). Reading in the Primary School Years. Australia: Social Science Press.

Jennings, C. & Shepherd, J. (1998). Literacy and the Key Learning Areas: Successful Classroom Strategies. Australia: Eleanor Curtain Publishing.

Marshall, A. (2002). First Kill. In C. Martin & T. Howell. (eds.) English Outcomes 3. Pearson Education Australia, 79-80.

Readance, J., Moore, D. & Rickelman, R. (2000). Prereading activities for content area reading and learning (3rd ed). Delaware, USA: International Reading Association.

<< top