Lesson suggestions, tips and ideas from Janine Schaub.

For the full EQAO document please go to:


Junior EQAO Reading Strategies For Improvement 2010-2011 (released March 2012) Lesson suggestions, tips, ideas
Share learning goals and co-construct success criteria Plan success criteria around the areas of need identified by your school’s EQAO data. Students can respond to questions like:

Tell me about what you are learning today.

Why is what you are learning important?

If you are having difficulty with your work what can you do?

How do you know you know you are doing well?

Use scoring guides with students to help them understand how to get a 30 or 40


Deconstruct EQAO-provided student answers together, and then deconstruct samples from your own class (name removed) or switch with another class.
Intensify work around making inferences. Teach students to question the author (about choices to make characters speak and act as they do and of particular words to describe people and items). Focus on noun/pronoun connections in texts to improve inferencing skills to determine who is speaking, acting, etc. To help students make inferences about dialogue in narratives, introduce the notion of “text” (what someone says) and “subtext” (what he or she might mean, what else is suggested). During shared reading, examine the connotative (affective) and denotative (cognitive) meaning of words. Reflect on the connections between the explicit and implied meanings of words and how doing so helps readers make inferences


Demonstrate how to use your own ideas


“Using your own ideas” is a common EQAO phrase that usually goes along with an inference question. Students can often make an inference but then don’t back up their inference. “Your own ideas” can be a clue from the text or something you know from your background knowledge.

Try some sentence prompts like:

(State the inference) I know this because…

When the author said (state the inference) she was really saying…

When the author wrote (state the inference) she was implying that…

A clue that made me think (the inference) was when…

The author wanted us to think that (the inference) so that…

I think the author wants us to think…because in this picture/in this part …

I’m guessing that… because…

From the way the text is written, I think that the author…


Model how to give evidence to support an answer.


Look for part of the question in the text.

Find key words.

Get help from pictures or other text features.

Think about how YOU might support your answer with your own knowledge.

Model how to reread a question and answer each part of a question


Code the question. (E.g. circle the verb “describe” or “explain”)

Read the question, cover it with your hand, say out loud what you need to do.

Look at different kinds of questions (explain, describe, compare, etc.)


Create an anchor chart that explains what each kind of question requires the student to do.
Model how to make relevant connections while reading


Meaningful connections help the reader understand the main idea or further his/her understanding of the text.

 My connection helps me understand this story because…


Teach strategies for locating information and determining its importance, Model skimming and scanning, using text features, recognizing signal words and using the structure of the text for clues to meaning.

Model how to analyze questions for the structural or organizational patterns that they signal (e.g., Section A: Q. 11 prompts students to “compare the change in the juggler’s attitude from lines 8–14 to lines 35–40.” A full response requires a discussion of the attitude at two points.


Have students identify and compare the different elements of narrative, informational and graphic text (E.g., for narrative: character, theme, main idea, and setting).


Encourage deeper thinking by asking questions such as  “How do you know?” “Why?” “Can you explain your thinking further?”


Ask questions that have no right answer.

Ask a question. Ask the students to think for a whole minute before answering.

Identify a question that has been answered in part and talk about what is needed to make it a more complete answer.

Provide opportunities for vocabulary development


Play with words. Use challenging vocabulary with students in your lessons. Engage in word study. Pre-teach target or subject-specific vocabulary.
Provide opportunities for students to show how text forms and text features help us understand Expose students to different genres and explain what characteristics are typical of that form.

Point out different text features and explain why they help us understand.

Compare plain text to text with text features.

Explore graphic features Talk about why illustrations, graphs, etc. are used instead of another text form.

Talk about what special/unique information illustrations, graphs, timelines, symbols, etc. give us.

Help students recognize organizational patterns and explain how these patterns help readers understand the text


What does this text feature tell us about how the way the book is organized?


What does this text feature tell us about the author’s intentions?


Why do you think the writer and designer of this page chose to use a diagram instead of a photograph?


Why might the illustrator of this cut-away diagram have chosen to represent her information in this way? What is particularly effective about the way she has presented her information?


How does this text feature help us find the information we are looking for?


How does this text feature help us understand the information in the book?

How does this text feature help us understand the main idea?

What does our preview of this text feature tell us about the kind of information we will encounter in the rest of our reading?



Engage students in poetry particularly with a mind to having them make judgments and draw conclusions


Explore poetry many times throughout the year…not just before EQAO

Explore poetry where the poet is implying something. Figure out what the poet is “saying.”

Explore poetry with imagery and devices and talk about why they make the poem so effective.

Provide extensive practice for students to identify the main idea and important details and summarize this information in a variety of ways.


Practice paraphrasing, synonyms, jot notes, key words, sorting, prioritizing, making inferences and generalizations as strategies to assist with summarizing.

Model how to highlight, code the text, state misunderstandings, and take jot notes.


Model and employ questioning strategies from critical literacy to help students analyze

Interpret and evaluate texts

What is this book about?

Why are you interested in reading it?

What does the author of this book want us to know or think?

Does he or she want us to believe something?

What does the author say about children, teenagers, and parents in this book?

Are all children like this?

How has the author used words and images to communicate his or her message?

Are the opinions in this book fair?

How do you feel about this book?

What do you think the person who wrote this book is like?


Use anchor charts, leveled texts, accountable talk and small group instruction for ELL learners


Use differentiated instruction and a tiered approach to teaching special education students


-Sketch the main idea

-Variety of small, whole group and individual instructional opportunities

-Flexible groupings

-Groupings based on a variety of premises (sometimes ability, sometimes interest, sometimes background knowledge, sometimes gender, etc.)

-Varied homework tasks

-Accommodation of multiple intelligences

-Group investigations

-Parallel tasks

-Tiered lessons and products


-Leveled texts and materials

-Choice in assignments

-Variety of resources

-Graphic organizers

-Anchor charts

-Recorded material




Junior Writing

EQAO Strategies For Improvement 2010-2011 (released March 2012)

Lessons, Tips, Ideas
Share learning goals and co-construct success criteria Plan success criteria around the areas of need identified by your school’s EQAO data. Students can respond to questions like:

Tell me about what you are learning today.

Why is what you are learning important?

If you are having difficulty with your work what can you do?

How do you know you know you are doing well?

Conduct writing conferences and give descriptive feedback


Model writing.

Conduct guided writing sessions with small groups.


Give Descriptive Feedback:

1. Strengths: Briefly say what you noticed about the student’s work.

“I noticed that you have made a connection to the story we read last week.”“This is quality work because you showed how Mr. Henry and his neighbor are different by using an example that you found right in the text.”


2. Areas to improve: State what needs to be fixed.

“Let’s think about how your connection helps us understand the lesson in the story.”“A way to improve this answer might be to see if you can make an inference about why Mr. Henry and his neighbor are different and write that down.”


3. Strategies: (one or two) suggest a way to fix without dictating.


Explore many different text forms Provide examples of a text form and give students opportunities to imitate its features. Always consider audience and purpose. (The new First Steps has some excellent resources for text forms.)

Model how to focus on a few ideas and specific details rather than listing many underdeveloped ideas and details.


Explore strategies that will address boys’ gap in literacy (especially writing)


Turn and talk before writing.

Draw the main idea. Then write.

Summarize through graphic novel format. (comics)

Dramatize then write.

Use graphic organizers and then help students move towards the next step.

Record spoken word and use voice recognition software.

Use a few graphic organizers and writing frames and then help students move beyond them


Model how to move from a graphic organizer to a finished piece of writing.

Use graphic organizers only as an intermediate stage to further writing. (Emphasize graphic organizers as a writing tool for organizing ideas)

Let students choose which writing frame or graphic organizer best assists them in organizing their writing.


Have students use peer feedback for writing drafts


Decide with your class, which aspects of the writing process peers can assist with and keep them simple and little in number. Model how to give peer feedback.

Have students use an editing checklist for himself or herself or with the help of a peer.


Tackle unfamiliar vocabulary by focusing on root words, synonyms and antonyms.


Pre-teach target or specialized vocabulary during guided writing sessions.

Play with words. Use challenging vocabulary with students in your lessons. Engage in word study.

Practice writing summaries
  • I have included the title, genre and the author of the text in my summary.
  • I have clearly stated the main idea.
  • I have included 3 pieces of support.
  • I have explained how each piece of evidence/detail furthers the main idea.
  • I have put the details and their explanation in a logical order.
  • I have included a concluding sentence restates the main idea in a different way from the introductory sentence.
  • I have used my own words and rephrased what the original author wrote in my summary. (I.e. synonyms for key terms, interesting vocabulary)
  • I have included transition words to make my sentences flow nicely. I have used proper spelling, grammar and paragraph style.
  • I have checked to see that I have avoided repetition and that my writing is clear and concise.
Study EQAO prompts and decide on audience and purpose


Print out prompts from previous EQAO assessments and get students to figure out the intended audience and purpose.


Study EQAO target vocabulary


  • The text, the selection, the passage, the line, the stanza, the paragraph
  • The speaker, the author, the reader, the audience
  • Explain, describe, define, compare
  • Who, which, why, when, where, how, what
  • Main problem, main idea
  • The purpose of the text
  • Rhyme, stanza, line, free verse
  • (Purpose and use of) quotation marks, exclamation marks
  • “Your own ideas”

-Relate your answer back to the main idea using what you know personally

-Sometimes “using your own ideas” can simply mean being able to take a couple of ideas from different parts of the text and use them to answer the question

  • “Specific details”

-A few examples right from the selection that prove the main idea

  • “Examples from the selection”

-Very much like “details”

-A few examples right from the selection that prove the point of main idea


Practice writing for longer periods and on demand


Carry out timed writing and quick writes.

Practice writing for a long period.



Use writing exemplars with students


Model how to generate, select and organize ideas  
Write more non-fiction Examples of Entertaining Texts

A story from your life

Film script for a science show

Caption for a photograph



Poem about a real life experience

Rap about a problem

Make up a word puzzle






Minutes of a meeting

Retelling (direct or indirect experiences)








Chat room conversation

Write an ad

Write an invitation

Write a memorial

Write a message

Write a proclamation























Oral report

Photo essay






Travel brochure




Advice article



Competition entry






Song lyric






Flow chart




News report






Venn diagram









Road signs




Address book










Messages on clothing









War cry




Use storytelling and story writing across all subject areas


Explore voicethread.com (available under “Images and Media” on the Elementary Library Webpage. http://www.tdsb.on.ca/libraries/cat.asp?schoolNo=10


Teach grammar and conventions in the context of writing, providing brief mini-lessons as necessary


See Nanci Atwell’s book “Lessons that Change Writers.” She has a whole chapter of mini-lessons on conventions for intermediate students.