<<MyRead Home    List of Guides



Keiju Suominen & Amanda Wilson

Monitoring and Assessment

Four Resources Guideposts

First Steps Reading Developmental Continuum

Classroom Organisation

Engagement: Empowering Teachers with Successful Strategies

The Three Level Guide is a comprehension strategy which supports students to read the text closely by providing a clear purpose and direction for reading. The three levels of statements, literal, interpretive and applied, guide the reader to focus on the relevant information and to develop an informed opinion on the issues explored in the text. The reader is encouraged to draw on their background knowledge of the topic and to apply the information from the text to real life contexts. Explicit within genuine and engaging contexts, it provides a flexible framework for gaining access to texts.

Engagement: Engaging Students in Purposeful Social Practices


Three Level Guide,
A. Morris & N. Stewart-Dore (1984)


‘Bagging a ‘berg may solve water worries: scientist’ by Simon Grose, The Canberra Times (November 20, 2001)

  • takes students beyond the text to explore real world issues
  • encourages students to bring their background knowledge to the reading of the text
  • engages students in discussion around the text
  • uses peer support to scaffold student reading of challenging texts
  • scaffolds reading with a variety of texts in all curriculum areas
  • integrates the Four Roles/Resources of the Reader
  • a real world text from a daily newspaper
  • explores a topical environmental issue
  • contains rich language and complex concepts
  • links to work in science and SOSE
  • leads to exploration of other environmental issues including global warming

Four Roles/Resources of the Reader

Based on the Four Roles/Resources of the Reader developed by Freebody and Luke (1990), the Three Level Guide 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 words in texts
  • carefully reads and rereads the text focusing on specific wording

Text user

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

  • develops an awareness of how the cultural and social context shapes the nature of texts
  • develops a critical response based on own knowledge of how texts are used to convey meaning

Text participant

Comprehending written, spoken and visual texts, eg:

  • links the text to real life issues
  • focuses on the literal and inferential meaning of the language used in the text
  • draws on background knowledge to interpret the text

Text analyst

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

  • examines the writer’s point of view to develop own position on the text
  • explores how the writer is positioning the reader
  • develops a critical response to the text

Four Resources Guideposts

Three Level Guide Guideposts provide a useful assessment tool.

Implementing the Strategy

Three Level Guide using Bagging a ‘berg

Choosing a Text

The following pointers provide a guide to text selection. Select a text which:

  • deals with issues which challenge students beyond the literal level
  • reflects the main ideas and concepts covered in the unit of work
  • uses rich language

A Three Level Guide can be used with a variety of text types including multimedia texts such as websites, video, and audio texts.

Creating a Three Level Guide

In creating a Three Level Guide it is important to first determine your content objectives. This gives the guide a clear focus and informs the development of your statements. In this way, the statements will lead the reader to focus on the relevant parts of the text. Your content objectives will determine your applied level statements.

These third level statements should be written first as they influence the development of the statements at the other levels. The third level statements encourage the reader to think beyond the text to its wider implications. These statements reflect the main ideas and concepts you would like the students to explore through the text.

Once you have written the applied level statements, write your literal statements. These statements guide the reader to the information in the text related to the issues explored in the applied level statements. The literal statements support the students by focusing their attention on the relevant information in the text. This teaches the students to be selective in their reading by encouraging them to disregard irrelevant information.

Finally, develop your interpretive level statements which guide the reader to draw inferences from the information in the text. These statements focus on the author’s intent behind the words and information selected. Interpretive level statements can also encourage the reader to explore what is omitted in the text.

Three Level Guide

‘Bagging a ‘berg may solve water worries:scientist’
by Simon Grose, The Canberra Times (November 20, 2001)

Read the text and then look at the following statements. Respond to the statements in each section. Tick if you agree, cross if you disagree. Discuss your responses with others.

Level 1 Literal Statements

Does the text say this? What words support your answer?

  1.    Icebergs are worth a lot of money.
  2.    Australia is developing a system for bagging icebergs.
  3.    This technology is freely available to everyone.
  4.    Towing icebergs is no longer expensive.
  5.    Bagged icebergs provide pure fresh water.

Level 2 Interpretive Statements

Does the text give you this idea? What words and phrases support your answer?

  1.    It is inexpensive to harvest an iceberg.
  2.    Icebergs will soon be used widely to supply water to dry regions of the
           world including Australia.
  3.    Companies in Germany and America are developing this technology
           because their countries are running out of water.
  4.    Supplying water is a profitable business.
  5.    Icebergs have already been towed to Africa.

Level 3 Applied Statements

Do you agree with this? Why? Be prepared to share your reasons.

  1.    We don’t need to conserve resources because technology will
           always overcome these concerns.
  2.    Australia will greatly benefit from this new technology.
  3.    Big companies are always looking for ways of helping developing countries.
  4.    Environmental problems can easily be solved by technology.

newspaper article Click here to download the above worksheet as a Microsoft Word file (33KB).
Click here to open newspaper image in a new window: Bagging a ‘berg.

Qualities of a Good Three Level Guide

An effective Three Level Guide:

  • promotes discussion with statements that are open to a variety of interpretations and draw out differing opinions
  • leads students to apply their background knowledge to the text and to think through the implications of the text to real life contexts
  • has set content objectives which link to the unit of work and give the Three Level Guide direction and purpose
  • focuses the reader’s attention on the key elements of the text which illuminate the content objectives

Using a Three Level Guide

Initially students work alone to complete the Three Level Guide. Emphasise the importance of being able to justify the responses made to the statements.

Once the students have completed their responses, form the students into mixed ability groups of no more than four students. The students then discuss their responses to the statements. Where possible students come to an agreement based on references to text; not a compromise but a consensus. At this stage, the teacher’s role is that of an observer only.

During this discussion, you can circulate around the class and listen to the discussions, noting any difficulties the students may have experienced with the text. These can then be clarified at the end of the session when the class comes together for a whole class discussion of the text. Review questions that have not been agreed upon.


Grose, Simon. (November 20, 2001). ‘Bagging a ‘berg may solve water worries: scientist’. The Canberra Times.

Morris, A. & Stewart-Dore, N. (1990). Learning to Learn from Text. Effective Reading in the Content Areas. North Ryde, NSW: Addison-Wesley.

<< top