Strategies for Before Reading, During Reading, and Before Writing

We have compiled these suggestions to use with students as they work with the storybook,Children's Lives at Colonial London Town: The Stories of Three Families.

For more information, see the Storybook Guide, Educator Resources, and Resources for Families and Community Groups.

Before-Reading Strategies

  • Have students preview the text by identifying non-fiction text features, such as headings, subheadings, titles, and subtitles, and make predictions about the text.
  • Take a picture walk to view, discuss, and question visual and other non-fiction text features, such as photographs, text boxes, captions, and drawings, in order to make predictions about the text. Students can then use the features to create predictions and make connections in the text.
  • Use the text features to have students develop their own questions to guide their reading and help them connect personally to the text. Follow up by directing students to prepare a written response to the questions they posed.

Tips for Differentiation:

Develop key vocabulary before students read each chapter of the book. Struggling and below-level readers often have difficulty with academic or discipline-based vocabulary. The storybook, Children's Lives at Colonial London Town: The Stories of Three Families, includes words that may be new or unfamiliar. Time spent on building knowledge of the key terms will help students interact with the text more efficiently when they read.

Involve students in creating non-linguistic representations of the terms. Create a vocabulary tree to display the visual representations (drawings) of the essential terms to be revisited as needed.

Introduce students to the Glossary, which can be accessed directly or through hyperlinked text in the narrative. Make it available as a reference.

By employing these strategies, students can navigate the narrative more easily and comprehend what they have read.

During-Reading Strategies

An effective during-reading strategy is to have students recognize and utilize text cues. Students should be mindful of how certain words and phrases create the text structure. When students locate specific words and phrases in a text, they can identify the text structure and improve their comprehension.

Words or phrases like since, because, due to, may be due to, therefore, and so, indicate to a reader that the author is using a cause/effect text structure, where something has caused something else to happen.

Compare/contrast text structure contains words such as likewise, similarly, but, or however. When an author uses the comparison/contrast text structure, readers look for similarities and differences between some thing and some one.

Words or phrases, such as one reason for that, a solution, or a problem, indicate to the reader that the text structure is problem/solution. When an author uses the problem/solution text structure, he or she wants the reader to pay attention to issues and possible solutions.

Sequence is another text structure that authors employ. This text structure is identified by words or phrases like until, before, after, next, first/last, on, and at, which identify or suggest a time or order. When an author uses the sequence text structure, the reader focuses on the chronology of events.

These text structures are in Children's Lives at Colonial London Town: The Stories of Three Families. Once students can identify the text structures, they will be more efficient readers.

Tips for Differentiation:

Identify particular skills (sequencing, using details, drawing conclusions, identifying main ideas) or strategies (using decoding/phonics, making inferences, making/confirming predictions, creating mental images, summarizing, self-correcting) to develop. First, model skills and strategies for struggling and below-level readers, and then provide time for student practice. Repeat the exercise for each portion of the text, which can be chunked to make the reading more manageable.

Assign specific skills and strategies to on-level readers. Students can then apply the strategies and skills as they read the sections and chapters.

Before-Writing Strategies

Before students begin responding to questions in the narrative and instructional activities, employ one or more of the following strategies: Creating lists, visualizing the topic and content, brainstorming, writing an outline, using a graphic organizer such as a web, story map, mind-map, or storyboard.

RAFT, which stands for Role, Audience, Format, and Topic, is a useful strategy to help students focus on breaking the writing assignment into manageable parts.


This project was developed through a Teaching American History Grant partnership between Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Historic London Town and Gardens.