How to Use the Directed Reading-Thinking Activity to Enhance Reading Comprehension
The Directed Reading-Thinking Activity is a reading comprehension technique that can be used with any age group, but is most commonly used with elementary students. This approach works with both picture books and chapter books, and can be done with individual students, small groups or the whole class.
Since it involves predicting what will happen next, DR-TA must be used with a story that is unfamiliar to the students. However, students should have some background knowledge. For example, if the book takes place during a certain period in history, such as the Gold Rush or ancient Rome, it would be helpful if students knew something about the era. The teacher needs to prepare for the activity ahead of time by reading the book and deciding in advance where the stopping points will be for each section.
The DR-TA procedure involves having students make predictions about what is going to happen next in the story. They will then read up to a designated stopping point, and determine whether or not their predictions were correct based on what they have read. The DR-TA strategy is done in several steps.
1. Prepare the students for reading by introducing the book or chapter. Ask students to predict what they think the story will be about based on the picture on the cover and title of the book if it is a picture book, or title of the first chapter and any illustrations if it is a chapter book. Write down students’ predictions on the board or overhead. Ask them to explain why they think these things will happen. Students can also write down their predictions in a reading journal. Make sure all students are engaged. If they do not all have a chance to suggest a prediction, you can have the class vote on which predictions they prefer so that everyone has a chance to be involved.
2. Either read aloud or have students read silently up to a certain designated stopping point in the book.
3. After reading, lead a discussion in which students will evaluate their predictions as to whether they were correct or not. They should justify their answers by citing specific examples from the reading to confirm or disprove the predictions. Ask students why they think the things happened as they did.
4. Repeat the predicting process for the next section of text. Guide students by asking questions about what they think will happen next, and why.
5. Repeat the discussion process after each section. Continue to ask students to justify their reasoning with examples.
Older students can be divided into small groups for the prediction and discussion steps, and write down their predictions and justifications for each section.
Tompkins, Gail. Literacy for the 21st Century, 3rd Edition. Pearson Education, 2003.