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The Comprehension Toolkit, 3–6

"Active literacy is the means to deeper understanding and diverse, flexible thinking, and is the hallmark of our approach to teaching and learning. Reading, writing, talking, listening, and investigating are the cornerstones of active literacy. The Toolkit captures the language of thinking we use to explicitly teach kids to comprehend the wide variety of informational text they encounter. Through the Toolkit lessons, we demonstrate how the kids adopt and adapt our teaching language as their learning language." —Stephanie Harvey & Anne Goudvis

The Comprehension Toolkit is an intensive course of study designed to help intermediate-grade students understand, respond to, and learn from nonfiction text. With the teaching and learning focus on comprehension strategies, the Toolkit provides a foundation for developing independent readers and learners across the curriculum and throughout the school year.

Download a slide presentation for an overview of the thinking, organization, and components in The Comprehension Toolkit.

Professional Support
A series of resources introduce, support, and extend the Toolkit's core lessons.
  • The Teacher's Guide outlines the thinking behind the Toolkit and describes its components, instructional design, and assessment options.
  • The Toolkit CD-ROM includes a video conversation with Dr. P. David Pearson; a slideshow of an active literacy classroom; and downloadable research articles, templates, assessment masters, and full-color lesson text.
  • Extend and Investigate shows how the Toolkit strategies reach across the curriculum and throughout the year. It provides strategies for content area reading and research, textbook reading, test reading, and a variety of practical bibliographies.
Six Strategy Books
The 26 strategy lessons in The Comprehension Toolkit are organized into six strategy books.
  1. Monitor Comprehension identifies ways readers keep track of their thinking and monitor their understanding as they read.
  2. Activate and Connect alerts students to the impact background knowledge has on their learning and supports them to connect the new to the known.
  3. Ask Questions highlights how readers can use questions to clarify unfamiliar ideas and discover new information.
  4. Infer Meaning teaches students how to use context clues and text evidence to crack open the new concepts and big ideas in a text.
  5. Determine Importance helps students distill the main ideas and important information from the detailed facts in nonfiction text.
  6. Summarize and Synthesize encourages students to go beyond the simple restating of facts, to pull together their thinking, and use all the strategies to understand big ideas.
Informational Text
A series of short, engaging, real-world articles provides an effective context for using and practicing the Toolkit's comprehension strategies.
  • The Source Book of Short Text provides two kinds of nonfiction text: Lesson Text, 24 articles from children's magazines; and Nonfiction Short Text, 43 short informational articles specially written for the Toolkit.
  • The Trade Book Pack contains the seven trade books referenced in the Toolkit lessons. (optional purchase.)
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