Science IDEAS Elements
A key element of the Science IDEAS Model is a teacher-guided strategy that addresses
student reading comprehension. The primary focus of this strategy is to develop
student consistency in enhancing their comprehension of what they are reading by
relating it to prior knowledge they have gained previously. This is something that
expert readers do automatically. The purpose of the Science IDEAS Reading Comprehension
Strategy is to guide students to enhance the comprehension of what they read by
guiding them to approach comprehension in the same manner as an expert reader.
The strategy is implemented through a series of steps applied to science reading
materials across the school year. The first step is applied to materials being read,
with the following steps applied (with teacher guidance) to the same material. Eventually,
as students are able to apply the strategy, only more advanced steps of the strategy
are applied to new materials until students are able to use the strategy without
Some specific studies reporting the effectiveness of the strategy are in the
attached reference list.
An overview of the Reading Comprehension Element follows.
Teacher Preparation to Apply the Reading Comprehension Strategy
Teacher reads through the entire selection and develops “knowledge notes”
relevant to comprehension of the passage.
- Reads/previews the passage to be read. As material is read, identify prior
knowledge that makes specific concepts/parts of the passage understandable are
identified (including headings, subheadings, text pictures, illustrations, and
graphics) and write on post-it notes stuck to margins of page(s) to link prior
knowledge to specific concepts/passage elements.
- For each prior knowledge element identified on a post-it note, transform
prior knowledge identified into questions (i.e., knowledge-notes) that could
guide students to refer prior knowledge to enhance comprehension.
Introduction of Science IDEAS Reading Comprehension Strategy
Teacher applies the three-step strategy reads through the entire selection
and develops “knowledge notes” relevant to comprehension of the passage.
Initial use of passage (whole class or small group)
- Individual students are selected to read the passage on a paragraph-by-paragraph
- As a student reads, the teacher interrupts the reading process whenever
a concept/passage element which has knowledge note
- In Step 1, the teacher models the reference to prior knowledge by asking
and answering the knowledge note question as something that enhances comprehension.
The Step 1 process is continued throughout the entire passage.
- As the story is read, the teacher guides students to cumulatively summarize
the passage on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis.
The same process in Step 1 is followed in re-reading the story with the exception
that the teacher uses the knowledge note questions to have students answer the
The same process in Step 2 is followed in re-reading the story with the exception
that the teacher uses the knowledge note questions to ask students what prior
knowledge would make the concepts/passage elements more understandable.
Evolution of the use of the strategy across the
school year (whole class or small group)
As students are guided by teachers in reading passages early in the school
year, the Step 1-Step 2-Step 3 sequence
is followed for all stories.
As the school year progresses, the teacher skips
Step 1 and begins with
Step 2 followed by
Step 3 (as above).
Finally, as the school year progresses and as students are able to apply
the strategy, the teacher only applies Step
As a result of using the strategy, students become able to consider relating
their prior knowledge to what is being read as a key element of reading with comprehension.
Although the major emphasis in Science IDEAS has been to use this strategy for
reading comprehension, it is also applied less formally across a variety of different
learning tasks to emphasize cumulative knowledge development.