Comprehension Strategies

The Making Meaning program explicitly teaches comprehension strategies—introducing them in the grades where they are developmentally appropriate. A chart of these strategies, and the grade in which they are taught, is available here. Following are definitions of the strategies taught and examples of how they are incorporated in Making Meaning across the grades.


Readers use retelling to identify and remember key information in a text. They focus on the important ideas or sequence of events as a way of identifying what they need to know or recall. In the Making Meaning kindergarten program, the students informally retell stories, using characters and plot to organize their thinking.

Using Schema/Making Connections

Schema is the prior knowledge a reader brings to a text. Readers construct meaning by making connections between their prior knowledge and new information in a text. In Making Meaning grade 1, the students learn to connect what they know from their own experiences to texts before, during, and after a read-aloud. They also make connections between texts.


Visualizing is the process of creating mental images while reading. Mental images can include sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, and emotions. Good readers form mental images to help them understand, remember, and enjoy texts. In Making Meaning grade 2, the students visualize to make sense of figurative language and deepen their understanding and enjoyment of poems and stories.


Good readers ask questions about a text to focus their reading, clarify meaning, and delve deeper into the text. In Making Meaning grade 5, the students wonder and ask questions before, during, and after a read-aloud to make sense of a text.

Making Inferences

Good readers use prior knowledge and information in a text to create meanings not explicitly stated, moving from the literal to a deeper understanding of texts. Students make inferences to think more deeply about both narrative and expository texts. In Making Meaning grade 4, the students make inferences to think more deeply about both narrative and expository texts.

Determining Important Ideas

Determining the important ideas in texts helps readers identify information that is essential to know and remember. In Making Meaning grade 3, the students identify which ideas in texts are important to understand and remember and support their thinking with evidence from the texts.

Understanding Text Structure

Proficient readers use their knowledge of narrative and expository text structure to approach and comprehend texts. Understanding that stories have common elements, such as setting, characters, and plot, provides a framework for thinking about stories. Readers who understand that authors of expository texts organize information through text structures, such as chronological order, cause and effect, and compare and contrast, use those structures to contemplate and remember the information. In Making Meaning grade 5, the students use story elements to help them think about what they have read.


Good readers identify and bring together the essential ideas of a text as a way of understanding what they have read and communicating it to others. In Making Meaning grade 2, the students informally identify important ideas and use them to summarize.Students identify important ideas in a text and use them to develop oral and written summaries.


Synthesizing is a complex process that requires readers to visualize, use schema, question, infer, and summarize to develop new ideas and understandings based on information in a text. In Making Meaning grade 4, the students informally synthesize to form opinions and make judgments about texts.

Find Out More

Download chart of K–5 comprehension strategies