Inquiry and Comprehension Strategies

Essential Question

How do teacher-librarians engage students in becoming discerning habitual readers and critical information users in a Web 2.0 world?


Show Notes

Information Literacy Is More Than Information Skills

Information literacy goes beyond the development of a discreet set of information skills, to competencies, attitudes and values that focus on knowledge development, critical thinking, problem solving,creativity and innovation. Information is the foundation. This goes beyond simply teaching students to find information, to creating deep understanding (Todd).

“The convergence of media and technology in a global culture is changing the way we learn about the world and challenging the very foundations of education. No longer is it enough to be able to read the printed word; children, youth, and adults, too, need the ability to both critically interpret the powerful images of a multimedia culture and express themselves in multiple media forms." Literacy for the 21st Century: An Orientation and Overview of Media Literacy Education

Fostering Engaged, Strategic Thinkers and Readers

What reading, writing, and inquiry skills will students need to understand and to deal with in order to explore the concept or problem? Examining the how, why, and what if of situations may require direct instruction, guided practice, or other instructional interventions.

Proficient readers orchestrate a number of strategies to support their construction of meaning (Pearson, Roehler, Dole, & Duffy, 1992). Comprehension is a very complex cognitive and metacognitive process. It is not simply how fast students can move through text, but more about how they determine if the information is meaningful and useful. For reading to make sense in any context, students must possess a repertoire of strategies from which to draw.

If students have a repetoire of comprehension strategies and can utilize them flexibility - the inquiry approach can easily follow. Education has traditionally focuses on information storage, rather than information processing. Students need to understand the information they receive in order to compare
contrast different versions of information in order to detect bias or political “spin.”

Seven Cognitive Processes for Comprehension
Pearson, Roehler, Dole, and Duffy (1992) developed a comprehensive synopsis of strategic reader research organized around seven comprehension strategies that consistently surface in research about strategic readers - activate prior knowledge, monitor comprehension, connect or build schema, determine importance, infer, evoke mental images, ask questions, synthesize. Readers can and should reflect, share, evaluate, and begin to apply knowledge during reading. Although modelling each of the strategies is a discrete application, the strategies are not to be taught in a linear progression. In reality, good readers employ each of these as their interactions with the text demands.

- Donna
Reading Comprehension Strategies and Web 2.0 - Carlene
Blogging and Reading Comprehension Strategies - Donna

  • Why comprehension strategies?
  • What does comprehension instruction look like in a school library?
  • Why is the library also a place to involve students in the strategies?

How do we engage students in monitoring their comprehension independently?

Choice of text is important – not only readability level (multi-level material), but self-selection as well.
Explicit modelling of grappling with the unknown – “Hmm, this part puzzles or confuses me. I wonder what the author means.”
Students need to hear that adults grapple with their understanding as well, so they know it is okay to question their understanding – environment is safe for risk-taking.
Mediate and Monitor Comprehension
Metacognition of Process and Content

Sharing and Displaying Learning

Inquiry creates a community of learners in which students learn together and learn from each other. The audience is not regaled to just the teacher, but a global community. Students share and display their thinking to expand the knowledge base of all community members.

References and further reading

Pearson, P.D., Roehler, L.R., Dole, J.A., & Duffy, G.G. (1992). Developing expertise in reading comprehension. In S.J. Samuels & A.E. Farstrup (Eds.), What research has to say about reading instruction (2nd ed., pp. 145–199). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Rich, M. (2009), ‘The future of reading: In web age, library job gets update’ in The New York Times. Viewed 23 May 2009. <>.
School Libraries and Information Literacy, Curriculum K–12 Directorate, NSW Department of Education and Training. Viewed 23 May 2009. <>.
Staino, R. (2009) ‘Stephanie Rosalia: the new poster girl for school libraries’, School Library Journal (November). Viewed 23 May 2009. <>.