Build Reading Stamina With Your Struggling Learners

Editor's note: We LOVE this idea from Lisa King, a middle-school teacher in North Richland Hills, Texas. Students gain a deep understanding of the text while practicing six key reading skills and building reading stamina.


My students struggle with maintaining focus while they are reading and with key reading skills. (Inference is always a particularly tough one.) The following close-reading strategy helps students with comprehension and stamina, and it can be used with any nonfiction text. The basic approach is for students to read each section of the article on their own, then discuss the section as a class. Focusing on one section at a time helps break down the text and makes a long article seem manageable. It also keeps students engaged so they don't lose focus.


What you'll need:

  • any Scope nonfiction, like this one
  • a poster or handout with a list of the reading skills you will cover

Key skills:
inference, summarizing, synthesizing, comprehension, reading for information, context clues

40-minute class period or longer, depending on the size of the class


1. Make a graphic organizer.

Before students start reading, they create a graphic organizer in their notebooks: a grid with one cell for each section of the article. The grid should include:

  • the title of the article at the top of the page
  • the section titles at the tops of the cells


2. Preview the skills.

In my classroom, I have a poster that lists the skills students will be practicing as they read, along with hints and sentence starters. I direct students to the poster and let them know that they will be practicing the following skills:

  • summarizing
  • questioning
  • connecting
  • inferring
  • visualizing
  • predicting


3. Read the article and apply the skills.

  • Students read a section of the article independently. Then they pick a skill to focus on and apply it to the section, writing their response in the grid.
  • They should choose a different skill for each section. If the article has more than six sections, students can double up.


By the time students have finished reading the entire article, they have covered all six skills for every section of the article either on their own or as a class. Students can transfer these skills to use in other classes as well. I love this strategy because not only does it keep students focused, it also allows you to observe their work and thinking process and guide them along as they read.








Lisa King is a secondary reading interventionist and dyslexia teacher who works with 6-8th grade students at Smithfield Middle School in North Richland Hills, Texas.




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I REALLY like this activity. I will certainly be using it in my classroom!

Have you tried this with fiction text? I teach 2nd grade. Would I still use all of the skills at the same time?

Thanks for your question! Lisa has had great success applying this strategy to fiction. In fact, she first used it with a short story and she did use all the same skills. Having the students stop and reflect in prearranged places helped them remember what they had just read and kept them from missing important plot points and it also kept them engaged in the story.

Excellent idea. Will star using this on tomorrow.

How can I adjust this to kindergarteners?

Love it! I will use it this week!

I love this strategy! I will start using this TOMORROW. We just started our 3rd nine weeks so it's perfect timing.
Thanks for the ideas and the motivation!

This strategy sounds great--quick question on application. Does Lisa have the students read silently or do they read/listen to the article together before working on the strategies?


Thanks for your question! Lisa has her students read silently and then read their reactions aloud individually. This way the whole class ends up discussing each section of the article. Also, this allows Lisa to gauge students' level of understanding, and the ensuing discussion helps to clarify any misunderstandings they may have.