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Interrupted Reading

Adapted by Allison Casper from The Language of Composition. Renee Shea, Lawrence Scanlon, and Robin Aufses.

This strategy asks students to read closely small, manageable sections of challenging texts, write an informal response, and engage in a discussion that requires both speaking and listening.  This can be done as a whole class or in small groups.


1.     Choose a text that you want students to read and understand in depth.  Depending on the length, chunk the passage into four or five manageable sections.

2.     Read each chunk aloud.  The teacher may choose to read the text aloud or have student volunteers read each chunk aloud.

3.     After each section, allow 3 - 5 minutes for students to write questions about the reading. The teacher may instruct students to focus their questions on a specific aspect of the text (for example, students could be encouraged to write questions about the theme, characterization, tone, structure, author’s purpose, point of view, claims and evidence, etc.). The teacher may provide the students with question stems that help students write specific types of questions.  Or, ask students to write one to two comments that demonstrate text comprehension, interpretation of the author's ideas and arguments, or connections that go beyond the text. 

4.     Before reading the next chunk, ask students to share their questions with the whole group and encourage students to respond to each other’s questions.

5.     Continue the process with each chunk of the text. After the interrupted reading process has ended, allow 5 -7 minutes for students to engage in a discussion about the whole text using the students' written responses.  The teacher can collect the questions and comments students have written as evidence of their engagement with the text and participation in the discussion.


Standards: Beyond RL1 and RIT1, Evidence, the Reading Standards addressed in this strategy will depend on the focus of the questions (see step 3). In addition, W2, SL1, L4.