Teaching Tips

Reading strategies 101: Titles can be telling

Reading is a skill that requires practice and time.  Unfortunately, many college students feel they lack time and therefore the availability to improve, support, or enhance their reading skills.  We often assume that the students who need help with reading are only struggling readers, but the truth is that all readers benefit from learning and practicing reading strategies.   

I was recently asked to teach an embedded lesson for an English course.  The professor provided the text, so I began to research different strategies I could share.  I used a book called The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo.  This book is packed full of reading strategies that support readers of all levels from beginning to advanced readers.  While perusing the book, I found a strategy that she calls “Titles Can Be Telling.”  Thinking about the text given to me that I need to teach I found this mini-lesson to be extremely important, especially for a literature course.  So I structured the mini-lesson to incorporate several reading strategies and allowed for practice to happen during the lesson.  My lesson took a total of 50 minutes from start to finish and incorporated the following strategies and skills:

  • Activating prior knowledge
    • Generate a list of prior knowledge
    • Review list
  • Titles can be telling
    • Make predictions about the text based on the title and your prior knowledge
  • Engaging and applying prior knowledge
    • Stop during your reading to monitor your comprehension
    • Reflect on the title and your prior knowledge to make connections with your understanding and what the author is saying

The lesson plan that I created for this lesson expands on these strategies taught.  You can view the lesson plan here.

At the end of the lesson, I included a few questions that encouraged students to reflect on their “takeaways.”  I encouraged several students to volunteer their takeaways, which reinforced what they learned and modeled that all types of readers, no matter their skill level, can benefit from learning and practicing their reading skills.  For more information or ways to incorporate reading strategies into your courses, feel free to contact me.  If you have a strategy that has worked for you, then please share below!


Serravallo, J. (2015). The reading strategies book: Your everything guide to developing

            skilled readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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