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Source Reviewed:

Strategies that work:Teaching comprehension to enhance understanding (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000)


Language (literacy) and subject area teachers


General Interest


As the title suggests, the book offers insight into how the explicit instruction of strategies for better comprehension of multiple texts can be incorporated into teaching practices. The authors draw on the current research on reading, on their own observations and collaborative inquiry into thinking processes while reading. The first part of the book introduces to strategic thinking and the strategies used by the proficient readers. It also focuses on the best ways to teach comprehension strategies, emphasizing teacher modeling, guided practice, independent practice and application of strategies. The authors also give advice on choosing texts for comprehension instruction. Part II of the book offers strategy lessons, highlighting how to make connections, how to employ questioning, visualizing and inferring strategies, how to synthesize information and assess comprehension. Part III provides a rich reference list to the resources that support strategy instruction.


The resource not only makes teachers reconsider their teaching practices, become aware of their strategic thinking and reflect on the value of metacognitive awareness, but also provides a detailed explanation of how students can be engaged into thoughtful construction of meaning and be led to the autonomous functioning as thoughtful independent readers.

Integration of theory and practice is also one of the obvious merits of the resource. The authors refer to the latest research findings in the field; they support their arguments by citing famous scholars, psychologists, writers and classroom teachers.

Multiple examples of the actual strategy use in a real classroom environment supported by the teachers’ reflections may serve the purpose of apprenticing novice teachers and helping in-service teachers to reconsider their approaches to teaching reading.




The question how to enhance students’ comprehension of their reading and ensure their learning has always occupied the minds of thoughtful teachers. The current book provides excellent insights into these processes: teachers are requested to reflect over their own thinking processes while reading in order to model their thinking for students, guide students’ thinking while reading and create opportunities for application of the newly acquired strategies. Detailed description of the effective strategy use for making connections, questioning, visualizing, making inferences, determining importance and synthesizing information is most helpful for English language (ESL as well) teachers. The book offers excellent examples of teaching by showing how to engage learners with books. The following metaphor used by the authors is very conspicuous of the approach advocated by the authors: “The beating heart provides a good visual metaphor for instructional delivery in classrooms, where the balance between modeling instruction and guided practice pulses evenly back and forth. Gathering kids in front for instruction, releasing them for practice, and then bringing them back to share their thinking represents the steady flow that is at the heart of effective teaching and learning” (p.31).

Your Recommendations:

I would recommend this book to all thoughtful teachers who are interested in creating the classroom environment that is conducive to thinking and learning. In order to apprentice our learners to reading and thinking, first we need to apprentice ourselves. The book provides an excellent opportunity for that.

Submitted by: Tetyana Ryaboshapko

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