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Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) is an intensive classroom or group-based reading

comprehension strategy designed to be used with expository text. This strategy is most effective
when implemented within an elementary or secondary class structure so that students can practice
it several times with different teachers. In this method, teachers model the strategies, provide
ongoing examples and opportunities, and guide and provide feedback over an extended period of
time. CSR integrates the following four specific reading comprehension strategies to teach
students how to become active, effective readers:

1. Preview: The first step, previewing, develops students’ interest in what they are reading,
activates background knowledge, and encourages students to make predictions about what they
will read.

To review the concept of previewing, use a discussion about movie previews to illustrate ways
in which the viewer begins to develop expectations and interest in the upcoming movie. Once
students understand the concept, model the steps of previewing: read the title; look at pictures,
graphs, diagrams, etc.; read the headings and try to anticipate what they mean; look for key
words (words that are underlined, italicized, in bold or set off); and read the first and last
paragraphs. As a final step, predict what you think you will learn from the reading. After this
procedure has been demonstrated, have the class practice the preview step several times over
the next few days, providing feedback and support.

2. Click and Clunk: In the second step, students learn to monitor their reading, determining what
they already know about and what causes difficulty. A “click” occurs when the reader
identifies something she knows (it “clicks” because it makes sense). A “clunk” is a word or
point that the student does not understand. For this step, model “clicks” and “clunks” and then
ask students to write down their own “clunks” after reading a short assignment. If students are
using consumable materials, they may note the “clunks” right in the text or in the margin.
Once students learn to recognize clunks, teach strategies to address them. Strategies might
include use of a glossary or a dictionary, rereading, or discussion with a peer. Students are
asked to identify the strategy they use to address the clunk so that they learn which strategies
to apply in different situations.

3. Get the Gist: For the third step, ask each student to summarize the main idea of a paragraph in
10-12 words and then ask students to discuss and offer different versions. Ask students to
provide evidence to support their summary and to exclude unnecessary details. Have students
vote on which summary is best and explain why.

4. Wrap-Up: During wrap-up, the student reviews the reading and what has been learned by
asking and responding to questions. Depending on the age group, provide question stems, such
How would you compare and contrast …?
How were _______________ the same or different?
How would you interpret …?

Mather, N., & Jaffe, L. (2002). Woodcock-Johnson III: Reports, Recommendations, and Strategies. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Collaborative Strategic Reading p.2

Eventually encourage students to write their own questions. To improve students’ abilities to ask
higher-level questions, assign values to questions. A $10.00 question is one where the answer is
located in the text and requires a short response; a $20.00 question is located in the text but
requires more than two or three words to answer; a $30.00 question is found in the text but in
order to respond, students need to reread the text and compose an answer based on the reading. A
$40.00 question requires inference and generalization. Students have to integrate responses with
previous knowledge and/or experience.

Have each group generate questions. Place questions on one side of color-coded index cards and
answers on the reverse side. Use the cards for review, as the basis for questions on future tests, and
as a resource for students learning to ask good questions. The cards can also be used in a game in
which members of one group quiz members of other groups or create a simulated quiz show, such
as Hollywood Squares or Jeopardy.

To make the collaborative groups successful, a variety of reading levels (including both a good
and poor reader) need to be present in each group and at least one student member should have
leadership skills. Assign the following roles:
• Leader: focuses the group on using the four strategies;
• “Clunk” expert: reminds the group of strategies for figuring out a clunk;
• “Gist” expert: reminds the group about steps to use to figure out the main idea;
• Announcer: calls on students to read or share an idea and reports back to the entire class.

Adapted from:
Vaughn, S. & Klingner, J. K. (1999). Teaching reading comprehension through collaborative
strategic reading. Intervention in School and Clinic, 34, 284-292.

Mather, N., & Jaffe, L. (2002). Woodcock-Johnson III: Reports, Recommendations, and Strategies. New York: John Wiley & Sons.