Text Complexity – Raising Rigor in Reading – Fisher, Frey, Lapp

Comparing Skills and Strategies

Strategy Skills
A conscious plan under the control of the reader. An automatic procedure that readers use unconsciously.
Requires thought about which plan to use and when to use them. Do not require thought, interpretation, or choice.
Are process-oriented, cognitive procedures the reader uses, generally unobservable in nature. Are observable behaviours, found on taxonomies, skills tests, or answers to questions.
Instruction focuses on the reasoning process readers use as they interact with text. Instruction focuses on repeated use until it becomes habitual.

“Strategies become skills with instruction and practice. The challenge is to apply these skills to increasingly complex and diverse texts.”

A chart enables students to compile information for a closer understanding of a topic and understood by analysis of several texts.

Learning about a topic

Text 1: Important Ideas

Text 2: Important Ideas

Text 3: Important Ideas

What I learned from Text 1

What I learned from Text 2

What I learned from Text 3

What I learned from reading the texts


A teacher can help students to fully comprehend and analyse a text, regardless of their instructional levels. Students can read, discuss, and scrutinise a text multiple times to conduct a deep analysis and comprehension, with their teacher acting as a guide.Each revisit strengthens the readers’ base of knowledge, language, concrete reasoning, evaluative judgment, and text analysis skills.

It’s difficult to create a simple lesson to teach students to understand a complex text. It takes time to develop the thinking skills necessary to read complex texts. It also takes really good instruction. It is possible to teach students to read complex texts but it requires more than just giving students hard books and hoping that they get better at reading. Teaching starts with a deep understanding of what makes a text complex.  Text complexity involves both quantitative and qualitative factors, and what a teacher requires students to do with the text can also build in complexity.

With appropriate instructional supports, texts can be reread and analysed to unearth complex structures, themes and insights. Once read and understood the text can be more deeply analysed in terms of content, such as events, chronology, motives, time sequence, propositional hierarchies, story grammar, and logical structures.

3 factors explored:

1. Quantitative measures of the text

2. Qualitative considerations about content, structure and cohesion

3. the reader and the task

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