A Study of the Purpose of a Strategy Portfolio

The purpose of the strategy portfolio and reflection essay is threefold. Please read carefully for full understanding. First, the portfolio is a collection of research-based strategies the candidate has implemented in the classroom or with individual children. The research- based strategies selected are part of the Common Core Strategy Teaching Document issued in May of 2012. The portfolio will serve as evidence that the candidate selected and taught strategies aligned with the State of Illinois and the International Literacy Association and in doing so, connected the strategies to the five pillars of reading while providing evidence of using varied instructional approaches for all readers and writers, especially those who struggle with reading and writing.

Second, the notebook is to be utilized as a teaching tool and model for training purposes. According to ISBE competencies, and ILA standards, the Reading Specialist Candidate is to prepare to train staff and provide professional development for teaching reading and writing in the discipline areas and for all classroom teachers. The portfolio will be a resource for both the Read candidate and any trainee looking to execute strategies in the classroom, and be a model for classroom teachers by providing examples of how teaching instructional reading and writing strategies influences the reading and writing development of students, especially those who struggle with reading and writing. In addition, the portfolio will include examples of differentiated instruction and instructional materials that capitalize on diversitv.

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Third, the portfolio will be utilized as an on-going resource as the candidate continues to add strategies learned in future courses. In other words, the portfolio collection of strategies should not end with this course, but be utilized in other courses as well.

Reading Strategies Portfolio Reflection

There are five pillars that make up reading. The pillars can be seen as broken up facets of what every successful reader needs to know. Tankersley (2003) says the pillars of reading are; phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. All of these facets need to play a role together and blend together to create reading as an entirety. Reading interventionists, literacy coaches, and literacy coordinators alike need to have a strong knowledge base in knowing how the pillars individually and collectively play a role in student reading. A reading interventionist can use their knowledge of individual pillars to isolate key skills and remediate in that area. In learning and implementing these various strategies, I have gained insight into how to use and coach others on using strategies in a multitude of classrooms and scenarios. In personally using these strategies in different discipline areas and working with various teacher types while reflecting, I have gained some novice expertise and understanding in the use and reasoning. This is why understanding how to utilize reading strategies, knowing what pillars they are connected to, and how they can be diversified is a necessary tool in becoming a reading specialist.

Vocabulary is a strong part of every content area. All content area teachers need a method for instructing students on content terms and vocabulary. The vocabulary four square (Johns 2006), this strategy was a great way for students to be able to explain and convey their understanding of various chosen words. It connects most obviously with the pillar of vocabulary. Students must be able to learn, know, and apply newly learned words in order to increase in their fluency and comprehension while reading. The more amount and the more rigorous the vocabulary is, the higher the students Lexile reading level is, which is the difficulty level of reading for students. Students vocabulary growth according to the pillar, needs to be ongoing and taught in a meaningful way so they can apply their knowledge of the word in their written expression. The four square strategy also connected to the pillar of comprehension through the strategy of visualization. In reading the new words and their definitions, students had to visualize their meaning and draw out that visualization for understanding of the meaning. I specifically worked with the chosen vocabulary strategy in the discipline of language arts, but it would be easily used and would benefit contents of all types. I learned that this strategy appealed to the lower level students due to the creativity and repetitive approach. In the future I learned that I can challenge students and amp up the four squares by expecting more such as, application through sentences.

The alphabet box graphic organizer strategy (Johns 2006), was a great means of helping younger students use their recall skills to demonstrate comprehension. So, it most obviously connects to the pillar of comprehension. Students are taking a selected science reading that is in a non-fiction format. The infographic and fact passages include non-fiction text features that students must be able to pick apart and learn to read and understand as a whole piece. They have to use their comprehension skills to understand the pictures, symbols, and words to understand the piece as a whole. They also must use their understanding of science content knowledge to understand recycling and how it effects our environment. The pillar of comprehension has students make connections and use their prior knowledge to unlock inferential understandings. Some of this background knowledge had to be previewed at the start of the lesson for further strengthening of this comprehension skill.

The strategy of comparing and contrasting (Realizing Illinois 2012), can be used in all content areas, and in using it I realized how often this strategy is used and not focused on. Many content areas and various disciplines use this strategy not knowing it is a reading strategy. There is not much of an understanding or focus on how it connects to reading comprehension, and how it connects to the common core standard of ELA being able to compare two texts. It is crucial for students to be able to compartmentalize their knowledge of two different pieces of text and be able to elaborate on their differences and similarities. I was made aware that teachers need to be made aware of how to ensure that they are using this strategy for the sake of strengthening comprehension of text. It connects to the pillar of reading comprehension. Students are responding to various pieces of text and finding connections and differences. They are having to return to the text and pick out information to show recall, and they are making inferences to make connections that are not always found directly in the text, yet rather from having background knowledge and using their own thinking. This shows that the comprehension level of thinking is being triggered and students are having to read to learn and apply. All content area teachers can be coached on how to put more of a focus on comparing and contrasting as a strategy to increase comprehension in their content readings. In using technology in conjunction of this strategy, I found it to be more relatable for students in this current day. Students are constantly inundated with technology and they need to have authentic classroom uses for this technology in relation to reading. Technology needs to be presented along with this and other reading strategies to show students how to use reading and technology together so that they are not only experiencing technology in their personal and social lives.

In using and learning about the DRTA strategy (Realizing Illinois 2012), it connected to the pillars of comprehension and fluency. The DRTA was an active thinking strategy to activate student awareness of what they are thinking about while reading through questioning. As claimed by Johns & Lenski (2014), prediction strategies help increase students’ comprehension of various text types. Some students do not even realize they are thinking so much during reading until they are coached on how to extract that information, which is why this strategy taught me so much. Students improve their fluency practice in reading. Each day they are building stamina in reading, and exposing themselves to new words, background knowledge, when they are actively practicing reading across contents. Through increased fluency, they are in turn building their comprehension. The DRTA strategy promotes comprehension and higher level thinking in reading. Students are able to think about text features and make predictions which strengthens their schema while reading. They are searching to see if their predictions are correct and finding page numbers that connect the evidence to match what actually happens. This improves overall comprehension of what they are reading. The GIST strategy (Realizing Illinois 2012), connects to the pillar of comprehension because it directly relates to organizing thoughts after reading and summarizing a text or passage. As stated by Moore (2011), summarizing is producing a reduced version of what one reads or hears. In order for students to successfully complete a summary, they have to be able to understand what they have read, and they have to be able to pick out the most significant information that they author was trying to convey. The pillar of comprehension also closely connects with the pillar of fluency, so fluency affects this strategy as well. In order for comprehension and summarization of a passage, a student must be able to read fluently with intonation to understand why the historical text is being presented to them, and what information they need from it. After using the GIST strategy, it was apparent to me that teaching students how to break down information into the most significant and manageable parts is key for their overall understanding of reading in all contents.

The ACE strategy (Realizing Illinois 2012), connects to the pillar of comprehension because students are responding to higher level thinking questions that require them to write about what they are reading and/or completing work on. In the pillar of comprehension students are reading to learn. They are required to demonstrate their understanding of the text by applying it to real life scenarios, making connections, comparing to other text, and making inferences. Inferential reasoning is the highest form of comprehension. In math students are demonstrating their comprehension and understanding of word problems. They are having to extract important information to use and manipulate. They have to apply what they understand to carry out steps which shows they understand the words that are being used. This also connects to the pillar of vocabulary. Math uses a lot of math specific vocabulary, and students have to be regularly introduced to new words that tell them how to do something. Vocabulary strategies would be another important thing to add to the math curriculum.

The QAR strategy (Johns 2006), connects to the pillar of comprehension. Students are taking a selected reading and answering specific comprehension questions on various levels. Students are practicing recall comprehension as well as higher order thinking when they are using their schema and background knowledge to answer inferential questions. Buehl (2011), makes the claim that students will progress from dependent readers on someone else’s given questions, to independent readers when using their own questions, they create to monitor their thinking and understanding of texts.

The level of questioning helped students to dig into what they were reading and understand the complexity of the text and lesson. Students in social studies need to read to learn, and much of history is in documents. Students need to make an application to their own life to benefit from the lessons in social studies and to understand why it is still taught today. By asking questions that have them understand the author and me and why it still matters today, it is bringing life to the text and providing them with connections from the text to their current world. The pillar of comprehension discusses the importance of making connections, and part of the QAR strategy highlights the deeper comprehension questions that are needed.

The RAFT strategy (Realizing Illinois 2012), connects to the pillar of reading comprehension. As stated by Realizing Illinois, this is a strategy that helps students understand their role as a writer. By using this strategy, teachers encourage students to write creatively, to consider a topic from a different perspective, and to gain practice writing for different audiences. Students are expressing their comprehension of written expression skills and responding to what they have learned and read. Students have to demonstrate their understanding in one of the most difficult aspects of the comprehension pillar, by writing.

This is often in the RAFT strategy, inferential. Some recall comprehension may come into play when students take information directly from what they have read to enhance the detail in their writing, but much is done from the reader and writer’s own mind. They have to use their schema to create a piece that is able to be comprehended and tell information in a logical and sequential format.

The Word Map strategy (Realizing Illinois 2012), connects mostly to two pillars, pillars that are also closely related to one another. One of the pillars that it connects to is vocabulary. By “mapping,” out words, students are becoming familiar with the definitions and meaning of the terms they are choosing. They will be able to understand, especially in a content area that can have difficult terminology, words to help them navigate through what they are reading more easily. If the students understand and know the meaning of the words being used within the content area, they will be able to focus on the comprehension as a whole. This is why it also plays into the pillar of comprehension. Word mapping allows for students to comprehend the material in the unit that they are learning by breaking down various terms for increased comprehension. They will have a visual in their mind if they choose to draw or sketch themselves pictures in their word mapping as well.

The visualization strategy (Johns 2006), connects most strongly with the pillar of comprehension. Visualizing while reading is a comprehension strategy that is highlighted in the fundamentals of comprehension. As stated by Johns & Lenski (2014), visualizing is being able to make mental pictures that can aide students in the ongoing comprehension of text. They can make a movie in their mind and bring it to life on paper. Students need to paint a picture in their minds and think of their own thinking while reading. It can be compared to creating a movie in the mind while reading. Students need to be taught visualization, and sometimes they need help with visualizing what they read. By focusing on specific evidence for each of the senses, students have to pause and think about how the text is appealing to an individual sense. Once they are able to draw a picture it becomes tangible, and brings life to what they are reading. Students then are able to understand better what the author is trying to convey in the text when they use such specific detail.

Students have to be taught how to be not only literate, but digitally literate. In learning all of these strategies and implementing them, it was apparent after having to implement technology for at least one of them, that technology is key in this day in age. Technology is very present in our world and students need to be able to work with both traditional literary sources, and then also apply that skill set to the digital world. As stated in Bhatt (2012), he highlighted the need for the teacher to place a higher emphasis on digital literacy and the terms used in conjunction with it, over the traditional previously taught literacy. This is similar to the above stated claims, that there is research to prove that a student needs to have dual literacy skills. Classic and digital. Reading specialists have to have an understanding and a gamut of ready to use reading strategies, know how to use them in conjunction with technology as well as paper pencil, and be able to coach others on how to use digital literacy strategies.

There are a number of students in my class with both ELL considerations, socioeconomic concerns, at-risk students, and special education considerations. I am an educator in a diverse school environment as well as a special education teacher, and it is my responsibility to ensure that the needs of these students are met daily in the classroom. It is the norm for many schools in today’s society to be diverse and it is important for all teachers to know how to differentiate for all students, and even more important for reading specialists. As a reading specialist it will be crucial to have background information on student needs and skill level. Beyond that, it is important to be aware of students’ personal lives to an extent and their interests. This will aide me as a reading specialists to be able to teach to the student and be able to engage them, while reaching them at their level. Some students may work better one on one, some in a small group, and some students in a whole class setting with some aide. Dependent upon the reading specialist’s role, it would be key to know how the student performs best. For limited English learners it would be beneficial to have technology readily available to use apps such as translate.

One student who has limited English, that I teach, I allow to use the IPad for translating the words in his native language for increased understanding. It is helpful to go back and forth between languages so the student can have a well-rounded understanding. It is also key to know if students have special needs, and to make appropriate accommodations and modifications to the strategies to ensure that they are learning reading at their level. Lastly, a key detail is understanding reading Lexile levels. Students should be presented with age appropriate and level appropriate reading material to ensure they are being reached on a reading level.

As a reading specialist it would be important to not only utilize the reading strategies myself, but to coach and teach others on how to implement the strategies as well. As a co- teacher I am well versed in sharing ideas and having to instruct others on how to implement special education accommodations and strategies. I have had to learn how to apply my knowledge of various strategies and learn how to coach and implement the strategies in various disciplines and lesson types. In applying this strategy in all of the classes I had to coach my co-teacher and teachers I don’t regularly work with, on how to use it in the lesson. I had to convey the importance of each chosen strategy and why it was important in the aiding the reading process. I had to use my knowledge of the various pillars of reading and inform teachers on how it connected to showcase the importance of their use, and their use in a meaningful way. I had to coach others that strategies are not just used for strategy sake, but to enhance students in reading to learn. In the future I would coach others by making myself available to observe their lessons, or to look over their lesson plans. I would take what they are already doing in their classrooms with reading and answering questions, and show them how to apply the various strategies to what they are already learning and reading to strengthen their comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary in the upper grades. As a reading specialist and coach I would also find it helpful to provide materials to the other content area teachers. I would try to make generic graphic organizers and worksheets that could be used to implement the strategies and leave the content open ended for the teachers to input their own content information. By providing materials for reading instruction, I believe that they would be more apt to using them because they are readily available and they would not have to hunt for resources themselves. I would also make sure to educate all teachers on the fact that every discipline area teacher is a reading teacher. Reading is involved in every subject and in order for their students to get the most out of their lessons they must learn to navigate the reading material provided in class. A reading specialist’s job in implementing knowledge of reading and the strategies does not stop with teachers. It continues with administration and at home. The administration must be kept aware and current in the world of reading education. It is a specialist’s job to stay informed and to constantly demonstrate and coach on these strategies and ever changing best practices. Reading must also be fostered in the home, and it is the reading specialists job to coach parents on ways to incorporate reading strategies and practice in everyday at home. As a reading coach I could send home strategy practice sheets, resources, and website information for parents to remain informed. There are many jobs a reading specialist must endure to be successful and to reach all students.

Through the work in this portfolio I have become more of an expert in the area of teaching and implementing various reading strategies. I have learned their purpose and how they connect to various pillars of reading, strengthening readers in learning how to read and reading to learn. This portfolio can act as an aide to my future self as a reading specialist, as well as aide other educators on some strategies to use. This portfolio can provide real examples of what it might look like to use these strategies in various disciplines, and the results that were yielded. The reflections and considerations can show teachers that there are so many versatile ways to implement these strategies in the own classrooms. This portfolio could be a strong resource for other educators to have and be shown in a professional development standpoint to strengthen reading throughout content areas.


  1. Bhatt, I. (2012). Digital literacy practices and their layered multiplicity. Educational Media International, 49(4), 289-301. http://doi.org/10.1080/09523987.2012.741199
  2. Johns, J. L., & Lenski, S. D. (2014). Improving reading: Strategies, resources, and Common Core connections. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.
  3. Johns, J. L., Lenski, S. D., & Berglund, R. L. (2006). Comprehension and vocabulary strategies for the elementary grades. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Pub.
  4. Johns, J. L., & Lenski, S. D. (2014). Improving reading: Strategies, resources, and Common Core connections. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.
  5. Moore, D. W. (2011). Developing readers and writers in the content areas, K-12. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  6. Tankersley, K. (2003). Threads of reading: Strategies for literacy development. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Realizing Illinois Common Core Teaching and Learning Strategies. (2012). English & Language Arts Reading Informational Text Grades 6-12. Retrieved from https://www.isbe.net/Documents/ela-teach-strat-read-text-6-12.pdf.

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A Study of the Purpose of a Strategy Portfolio. (2023, May 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-study-of-the-purpose-of-a-strategy-portfolio/