Comprehension Corner

How Do I Promote Transfer?

Comprehension Corner
What Strategies Do Good Readers Use?
What Are Fix-Up Strategies?
What Are Comprehension Constructors?
How Do I Use Modeling Effectively?
What Are Accessible Texts?
What Are Text Sets?
How Do I Make Reading More Purposeful?
How Do I Improve Group Work?
What Does Engaging Instruction Look Like?
How Do I Promote Transfer?
What Strategies Promote Comprehension?
What Are Inquiry Units?
How Do I Create Opportunities for Social Learning?
How Do I Promote Questioning?
Where Can I Learn More?
Meet the Author

Our challenge as teachers is to help students gain understandings that they can apply to future literacy tasks.  To do this, we must promote transfer by teaching skills that will apply to all texts rather than teaching skills for specific texts. Smith and Wilhelm discuss two approaches that promote transfer.


Two Transfer Methods

         Identifying and then teaching specific demands of each type of text

o   For example, detective stories require readers to identify clues, recognize red herrings, eliminate suspects, etc (Tovani page 24).  Teaching students to read with these traits in mind improves comprehension.

         Identifying and reinforcing strategies readers must apply to all texts

o   For example, making inferences about characters.


To accomplish transfer, teachers must move away from more generic skills and lessons promoted through traditional textbooks to more specific skills and lessons focused on identified comprehension strategies.  Mastering these strategies will take many repeated exposures and opportunities to practice them. It may be helpful to decide which types of texts would be most appropriate at each grade level and focus on teaching those well instead of sampling several different text types.


A Sample Instructional Model for Transfer

  • Indentify which of the two transfer methods you will use in this unit.
  • Introduce the strategies while enabling students to realize their competence  with those strategies by using texts in which they are interested and over which they feel some control.
  • Help students develop conscious control over the strategies by naming the strategies and how they are used and by providing plenty of practice with increasingly difficult texts.
  • Move students to independent application of the strategies by providing and then removing scaffolding.

 For further reading and unit examples, see Going with the Flow, Chapter 2.

Last updated: July 9, 2008

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