Improving Reading Comprehension Using a Directed Reading-Thinking Activity

The Directed Reading Thinking Activity is a comprehension tactic that guides learners in asking questions about content, making predictions, and then reading to verify or refute their predictions. The DRTA process encourages learners to be active and thoughtful readers, enhancing their comprehension.

Why Use a Directed Reading Thinking Activity?

  • Encourages learners to be thoughtful readers.
  • Activates learners’ prior knowledge.
  • Teaches learners to monitor their comprehension of the content they’re reading.
  • Helps strengthen reading and vital thinking skills.

How to use a directed reading thinking activity

Educators should follow the steps below when creating a DRTA.

  1. Determine the content to be used and pre-select points for learners to pause at during reading.
  2. Introduce the purpose of the DRTA, and provide examples of how to make predictions.
  3. Be cognizant of the reading levels of each learner, and be prepared to ask appropriate questions or provide prompts and support.

Use the following outline to guide the process:

D = Direct. Educators direct and activate learners’ thinking prior to reading a passage by scanning the title, chapter headings, illustrations, and other contents. Educators should use open-ended questions to direct learners as they make predictions about the material or perspective of the content.

R = Reading. Learners read up to the first  stopping point. The educator then prompts the learners with questions about specific info and asks them to assess their predictions and revise them if necessary. This process continues until the learners have read each section of the passage.

T = Thinking. After each section, learners go back through the content and think about their predictions. Learners must verify or modify their predictions by locating supporting statements in the content. The educator asks questions like:

  • What do you believe about your predictions now?
  • What did you find in the content to prove your predictions?
  • What did you read in the content that made you change your predictions?


Language Arts

Use a DRTA with the kids’ book Dear Mr. Blueberry.

Use a DRTA with the kids’ book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Use a DRTA with the kids’ book David Goes to School.

Differentiated Instruction

For second language learners, learners of varying reading skill, learners with learning disorders, and young learners.

  • The content should be separated into small sections so that the learners have time to think about and process info.
  • The amount of reading should be modified to fit the purpose and the difficulty of the content.
  • Writing may be involved as part of the DRTA. As learners become comfortable with this tactic, have each learner write predictions in a learning log or on a piece of paper. In small groups, learners can discuss their predictions and share their cognitions. Next, ask learners to write summary statements about how their predictions compared to the passage.

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