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Previewing Text


Skilled readers almost never read a text “cold.” Instead, they examine the text, noting its genre, form, content, and other features. They identify when the text was written, and by whom, and they make judgments about the degree to which the information in the text should be accepted as factual. They may read a summary, or look through a table of contents, or read the headings and subheadings in order to gain some understanding of what they should expect when they read. Less-skilled readers can learn how to preview a text effectively, and in doing so can reap the benefits of anticipating the elements of a text.


When students effectively preview a text, they start the reading process with a great deal of information already processed, such that the content of the text is placed effectively in a context that informs its meaning and significance. Students who preview text are immediately able to adjust their reading process according to the difficulty, importance, form, and genre of what they are reading, and they are able to place text content within an existing cognitive frame. Through the act of previewing, students are able to make connections before they even begin to read, and they are able to adjust their interpretation of the text based on its tone and credibility. As a result, students read text more fluently, and with greater engagement and understanding.

Content Area Adaptations 

Previewing text is important whenever students read, and should become a habit of the reading process. Students should be taught to preview genre-specific elements in their various classes, and to use these elements effectively in their learning and reading. For example, headings and subheadings may be critical in reading a science textbook, while identifying the author and the form may be critical in reading poetry. Students reading a novel should read chapter titles, look at pictures, and read the summary on the back, while students reading an academic article should note the format, carefully read the abstract and discussion, and closely examine any graphs. Teachers in each subject area should explicitly teach the genres to which students are exposed, and help them to identify elements and processes that will aid them in effectively previewing text.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Determining Importance
  • Inferring
  • Metacognition
  • Predicting
  • Synthesizing

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Listening
  • Numeracy
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Double-Entry Prediction Chart

A double-entry prediction chart asks students to select passages from the text and make predictions about characters or events. Students will then explain the thinking behind their predictions using text evidence. This activity encourages deeper interaction with the text because students will reflect about what has happened already and what...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Building Background
  • Investigation

Anticipation Guide

Anticipation guides consist of statements about themes from a text and ask students to evaluate their own thoughts about those themes. Anticipation guides help students build background when they think about ideas before they engage in a text. The guide also helps students to identify and connect themes as they read the text. Anticipation...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Building Background
  • Launching Into New Content
  • Reflection


This activity guides students to preview a text effectively by drawing their attention to important textual elements, and helping them to make predictions and anticipate meaning.  Students use the acronym THIEVES, which stands for:
T: Title
H: Headings
I: Introduction
E: Every first paragraph...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Launching Into New Content