About Reading Assistant Plus comprehension

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About comprehension

Good readers use a variety of comprehension strategies and skills to understand text. To help students improve reading comprehension, the Reading Assistant Plus program includes questions throughout the selections that correlate to specific comprehension strategies and skills. Each question also helps reinforce a specific level of thinking.

This topic lists the strategies/skills and levels of thinking practiced in the selections and measured in the group and student comprehension reports for the Reading Assistant Plus program.

Comprehension strategies and skills


In Reading Assistant Plus, students practice comprehension strategies and skills while working on the Think About Its and quiz questions within a selection. The Think About Its appear in the first activity, Preview and Read. Note that while most of the Think About Its are questions about the text, approximately 20% are prompts or statements about the text designed to help a student think further about the text or connect the text to a personal experience. The quiz questions appear in the third activity, Take the Quiz, and measure comprehension skills and strategies by checking the student's understanding of a selection after the student has recorded at least two (and sometimes three) readings of the selection.

Comprehension Strategies and Skills – Reading Assistant Plus




Ask Questions

Stop reading and ask yourself questions as a way to monitor comprehension or to learn and remember.

Think of a question you could ask yourself to help remember the important facts about a snake nest.

Author's View

Identify author’s point of view, likely opinion about a character or topic, bias, and offer support from statements in the text.

What does the author think about Columbus Day? (should not be a national holiday / should be a holiday in communities that want it / should be a national holiday / should become a day to honor all explorers of North America)

Cause and Effect

Recognize or infer a causal relationship between stated events in a text. Recognize or infer a causal chain of events. Cause and effect is literal when the link is stated explicitly with words and phrases like because, as a result, so, etc. It is inferential when there is no linking word in the text.

Why did the high school change the starting time?

What other kinds of damage might the storm have done?

Check for Understanding

Stop and do something to check whether you have understood: identify a main idea, clarify meaning of idiom, try to retell or summarize key point.

Think about what you have read. Is Jack joking or is he being serious? Why do you think so? (serious, because he said “I mean it.” / serious, because he pulled a muscle in his leg / joking, because he says he is “pulling your leg” / joking, because the girl was funny)

Compare and Contrast

Analyze likenesses and differences across facts, opinions, stories, authors’ views, characters, or events.

How do the new high school schedules differ from traditional schedules? More than one answer may be correct. (school starts later in the day / class periods are longer / school is open for 11 months / there are no study halls)

Use Context Clues for Word Meaning

Ask about word meaning when the word is content-critical—a word that you need to understand in order to comprehend.

Owls are nocturnal animals. When are NOCTURNAL animals most active? (day / night)

Fact and Opinion; Evaluate Evidence

Identify statements as facts or opinions; evaluate evidence provided for statements of opinion.

The author says that dogs are unhappy as pets. What kind of statement is this?

(fact / opinion)

How does Talia support her opinion that schools should stay open all year? More than one answer may be correct.

(more students could attend one school / working families would need less childcare / energy costs would be less)

Figurative Language

Interpret idioms, metaphors or similes, or other figurative language that would be confusing if taken literally.

When Dad said, "Keep your eyes on the road," he meant for Ted to pay attention to his driving. (true / false)

What is a "world class" school?

Guiding Thinking

Think about what and why you are reading and decide how to approach the text.

This article tells how snakes act. How might you read this article? More than one answer can be correct. (looking for main ideas / paying attention to how snakes behave / thinking about colors of snakes)

Which of the following kinds of information will be most important in the next section? (snakes’ habitats / how snakes sense what is near / snake venom / how snakes keep warm)

As you read the next section, look for three important ideas about how snakes behave.

Inferences/ Draw Conclusions

Generate information that is not explicitly stated in the text. Provide information from prior knowledge or connect information in the text that is not explicitly connected.

For example, in the sentence “Dark clouds rolled in, and Manny strained to see,” the reader can infer that it is daytime, the clouds were dark enough to make it hard to see, there may be a storm coming, that Manny is looking for something, and so on.

Do you think that these penguin parents take good care of the eggs? (yes / no)

Why do you think Manny strained to see? It is nighttime. / The clouds made it very dark outside. / The wind blew something into his eye. / Clouds were rolling in the sky.)

Main Idea and Details

Identify important information in the text such as main ideas or sequence.

Identify an overarching statement that covers several examples in the text; identify detail statements in the text that support a main idea.

How does the father penguin care for the eggs?

What is the main idea of this section? (cats are curious / cats hate water / a cat watched herself in the mirror / cats will eat shiny objects)

Make Connections

Similar to Schema/Activating Prior Knowledge

Text-to-text: Think about how the content in a story relates to other stories.

Text-to-self connections: Think about how text information relates to personal experience.

Text-to-world connections: Use common sense or background knowledge to make sense of text; part of the information needed to answer the question is not in the text at all and must be supplied by the reader.

Text-to-self connections: Kate has to decide to cross the bridge in the storm or go home for help. Think about what you would do if you were Kate.

Text-to-world connections: The article says that 3% of Earth’s water is fresh water. Is this a lot? (yes / no)

Nonfiction Text Features

Extract and/or interpret information from visuals, headings, subheadings, glossaries, images and photographs, captions, and graphs/tables/charts

According to the timeline, were there people in the region before the Grand Canyon started to form?


Predict upcoming events or information based on what is known from the text so far.

Finch has gotten Crow to agree to many things. What might happen in the next part? (Finch and Crow will be friends. / Crow will get angry. / Finch will agree to live next door.)

At the end of this chapter, Kate is certain that the bridge over Honey Creek has broken. What do you think you will most likely read about in the next chapter? (how Kate goes for help / how the bridge is repaired / how Kate comforts her younger sisters and brother)


Retell the passage up to that point or an important section of a passage; usually includes more information than would be in a summary. (K-3)

Recap only the most important information (or story events) for all or a portion of a selection. (4-12)

See how much you can retell of the story so far. (K-3)

Which of the following best describes what the king did? (He tricked the merchant just like the merchant tricked the farmer. / He tricked the merchant into giving away the gold. / He helped the farmer get paid.) (4-12)

Activating Prior Knowledge

Bring to mind what you know about a topic as a basis for building comprehension. This can be a factual or personal experience.

Have you ever seen a duck? What do ducks do? More than one answer can be correct. (swim / quack / fly)

From the pictures you can see that the poem takes place on a farm. When you read, imagine yourself on the farm and seeing these animals.


Understand the order of events in a narrative or steps in a process.

Before she went to school, Min taught herself to read. Which did Min do first? (go to school / learn to read)

What happens first after you plant the seed? (a leaf grows / the root grows / the stem grows / it rains)

Story Elements

In a narrative, identify and understand the importance of setting, the problem or initiating event, any steps toward the problem resolution, and the resolution.

Generalize to identify the moral, theme, or lesson of a story.

Identify character traits, emotions, or motivation from behavior or statements OR identify behaviors or statements that indicate character’s personality, emotions, or motivation.

When and where does the story take place? (in China today / in China before the Revolution / in a country near China today / in a country near China before the Revolution)

What happened to start the princess on her quest? (she wanted to find riches / her father was lost at sea / she needed to find food)

What lesson can you learn from this tale? (think before you act / trust your first impression / follow the example of others in the group)

Click the sentence that shows another time that Kate was brave.

Do you think Frog will trick Toad? Why? (yes, because they are friends / no, because they are friends / yes, because Toad tricked Frog first)


Create mental images from text; often involves synthesizing information and making some inferences.

Imagine the scene in the palace. Which of the following might be there?

(broken chairs / golden vases / barking dogs)

Make a mental picture of the path through the forest and what it would be like to walk down the path with a twisted ankle. Keep your picture in mind as you read on.

Levels of thinking

In addition to comprehension, proficient readers also need good thinking skills, which enable them to read beyond the text. In Reading Assistant Plus, each of the Think About Its and quiz questions in the selections are associated with a specific level of thinking.

Levels of Thinking – Reading Assistant Plus

Level of thinking




Identify information directly stated in the text.

“Unlike snakes, hamsters are warm-blooded.”

How are snakes and hamsters alike?

“Sam, Hank’s older sister, looked on.”

Who is Sam?


Supply information that is implied but not directly stated, or supply the relationship between statements in the text.

Organize or order the information a different way than it was presented.

Use prior knowledge and/or personal experience to fill in the gaps in information provided by the author.

“The glasses fell from the table with a crash. Hannah winced from a sharp pain in her ankle. She winced again when she saw her father’s face."

Why does Hannah’s ankle hurt?

What do you think Hannah will do next?

What is Hannah’s father most probably thinking?


Make judgments in light of the material.

Did Harriet do the right thing when she gave her brother’s gloves to the charity drive?

Which is the better product for the students to buy?


Pull out information from the text and use it in a related context.

Evaluate story elements or text structure: When did the man realize that something was wrong and the expedition was in trouble?

Provide alternate action or piece of information that is reasonable, given information in the text: How else might James have settled the fight?

Analyze author’s purpose or point of view.

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