For Adding Information:
- In addition
- As well as
For Putting Ideas in Order:
To Compare: (how things are the same)
- In the same way
- As with
- At the same time
To Contrast: (how things are different)
- By Contrast
- Instead of
- On the other hand
To further explain an idea:
- For example
- Apart from
- For instance
- In other words
To show cause and effect:
- As a result
- For that reason
Active reading strategies encourage pupils to engage and process text so that they understand it. These strategies come under the general term of DARTs.
Directed activities related to text (DARTs) are strategies for processing texts
developed by Lunzer and Gardner in the 1970s and 1980s. DARTs encourage
pupils to read a text carefully, to go beyond literal comprehension and to think
about what they read. (‘Text’ can be interpreted broadly and includes, for example, visual texts such as pictures, diagrams and graphs.)
Advantages of DARTs
• The use of DARTs is popular with pupils because they seem a bit like games or
• They do not require definitive answers, thus enabling pupils to be tentative and exploratory.
• They offer a good focus for group work.
• Some initiative is handed over to the pupils.
• They are engaging and encourage teachers and pupils to tackle difficult texts.
Classroom assignment: planning for reading
Next time pupils are reading for information or embarking on a research task,
plan to access their prior knowledge and use it to plan the questions their
research will answer. Questions could be divided amongst the class to speed up
the research process and then responses brought together at the end.
• Use blank OHTs, PowerPoint slides or organisational grids for pupils to record their findings. They can then easily feed back to the whole class; such activities ensure they have a tidy record and permit you to assess what they have done.
• It can help to prepare and share the work with a colleague so the
respective classes can feed back to each other.
• GCSE groups could prepare information leaflets or fact sheets for Key
Stage 3 pupils.
Categories of DARTs
DARTs can be grouped into two main categories.
These activities use modified text. The original text is broken down and given to
pupils either in segments or as blocks of text with gaps. Pupils use prediction and then fill in gaps or sequence segments to reconstruct the text. This type of activity can help pupils develop an understanding of the structure of different text types.
The following are examples of reconstruction activities.
• Text completion (cloze): Pupils predict deleted words, sentences or phrases.
• Diagram completion: Pupils predict deleted labels on diagrams using text and other diagrams as sources.
• Table completion: Pupils predict deleted items using table categories and text as sources of reference. (Good for PEE)
• Completion activities with disordered text: Pupils predict the logical order for sequence or classify segments according to categories given by the teacher.
• Prediction: Pupils predict the next part(s) of a text.
These activities use unmodified text. Pupils select specific information from the text and then represent it in a different form. This type of activity helps pupils develop their analytical skills. The following are examples of analysis activities.
• Underlining or highlighting: Pupils search for target words or phrases that
relate to one aspect of content, for example words or phrases that support a
• Labelling: Pupils label segments of text, for example they might label a
scientific account using a set of labels provided (e.g. prediction, evidence and
• Segmenting: Pupils segment paragraphs or text into information units or label segments of text.
• Diagrammatic representation: Pupils construct diagrams from text, for
example flow diagrams, concept maps or labelled models.
• Tabular representation: Pupils extract information from a written text, then
construct and represent it in tabular form.
Cloze exercises need careful planning. Pupils can often choose the word
from its grammar rather than any engagement with meaning. It can be better
to allow pupils to choose the words for themselves rather than from a
Text restructuring involves reading a text and then recasting the information in
another format – for example flow charts, diagrams, Venn diagrams, grids, lists,
maps, charts and concept maps – or rewriting in another genre. The strategies
involved in recasting information are also useful for making notes. Depending on
the format of the original text and the recast text, skills used will include:
• identifying what is important and relevant in a text
• applying what is known to a new context
Pointers for planning DARTs
• Time is required to train pupils to talk constructively in pairs and groups, if it is new to them.
• If you laminate resources such as sequencing strips or texts for highlighting,
they can be used again.
• Learning may be implicit. Plan to draw out the learning and how it was learned, and relate it to subject-specific objectives.
A school in north-east England reported that it had raised attainment at a
stroke by using some intervention money to buy every pupil in the school a
highlighter pen and teaching them how to use it.
Use of DARTs is most effective when:
• worked on in pairs or small groups
• the emphasis is not on finding a single ‘right’ answer but on giving
reasons for answers
• speaking and listening is the main activity, because the discussion of
possibilities leads to closer examination of the text and develops
engagement and understanding
Care must be taken:
• not to overuse DARTs – they can then become counterproductive
• to make sure that texts, although challenging, are also accessible.