Reading Strategies Vs. Reading Skills

Teaching reading encompasses a wide variety of concepts to cover, especially reading comprehension.  Teachers, however, unknowingly take the same approach to many of the concepts when in fact, there are huge differences between many of them.  And if I ask you to sort out all of the reading concepts into two categories:  skills and strategies, could you do it successfully?  Do you know the difference?  Let’s talk about the true difference between reading skills and reading strategies!  

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Reading Skills Vs. Reading Strategies


What you Need to Know about Reading Strategies:

  • Students are actively thinking about the ideas in the text if they are going to understand
  • Strategies are not about answers, but about actions readers take to remember the text
  • Students use reading strategies intentionally to meet a specific goal
  • Strategies are not learned by repetition, but from teacher think-alouds or modeling
  • Needs to be based on a complex text so students aren’t pretending to practice
  • Strategies can become skills overtime
  • Strategies are effortful, deliberate, and active involvement

What you Need to Know about Reading Skills:

  • Reading skills are typically associated with abilities required to answer comprehension questions
  • Skills are more automatic
  • Reading skills are usually assessed by a type of question after reading
  • Very repetitive, involved practice and feedbackreading strategies
  • Actions associated with reading skills are automatic and routine
  • Students use a reading skill without even knowing it
  • Reading skills are practiced within the same manner across multiple situations

So as you can see, there’s a huge difference in how we should approach teaching reading skills versus teaching strategies.

With strategies, it’s all about the students and what they are bringing to the thinking with the text.  With reading skills, it’s about the answer.

Starting to see the different?  Maybe this poster will help!  Here’s a FREE colorful printable of all the reading skills and strategies sorted!

So what now?  We don’t need to run off and change our lesson plans necessarily.  However, we do need to be more conscientious about the emphasis we put on reading strategies and the approach we take.

Reading strategies impact students’ reading comprehension growth more than skills alone.  It’s worth thinking about!



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I’m a wife, a mommy of 3, blogger, and a full time teacher author and presenter. I love to read, shop, and spend time with my family! My hands are always busy, but my heart is so full!

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