School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 8

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 1.0 General Reading Processes

Topic E. General Reading Comprehension

Indicator 4. Use strategies to demonstrate understanding of the text (after reading)


To show proficiency of the skills stated in this indicator, after reading a literary or informational text a reader will express an understanding of the key elements in that text. Some of these elements are stated directly in the text; others are not. Identification and explanation of these elements relies upon strategic reading and serves as the basis for general understanding of the text. In turn, a general understanding of the text is the beginning of interpretive and critical analysis of the text.

To identify and explain the main idea or argument in a text or a portion of a text, a reader first must identify the most important idea, subject, or argument in the text. In an informational text, this idea, subject, or argument is often apparent in the opening paragraphs. Paying attention to the details and events in a literary text often reveals the most important idea, subject, or argument. Once a reader has identified the idea, subject, or argument, he or she should determine the details or information in the text that support this idea or argument. Determining these supporting details or information aids a reader in the explanation of the idea or argument.

Identifying and explaining what is directly stated in the text requires a reader to read carefully. This allows a reader to follow the building of an explanation or argument in an informational text or the sequence of events or development of a character in a literary text. From an initial, careful reading, a reader will have a general idea where to locate specific information or details within a text. Once a general location has been determined, a rereading of that section of text should yield the needed information or details.

At other times, information or details the reader needs for a complete understanding of a text are not directly stated. This also requires careful reading. To correctly suggest what is not directly stated in a text, a reader must infer, draw conclusions, or make generalizations based upon the text. When a text does not directly provide an idea, a comment about a character or conflict, or a generalization about a situation, etc…a careful reader must isolate clues within the text that will allow him or her to suggest a reasonable, logical response in lieu of the missing idea or detail. This inference, conclusion, or generalization must be text-based and judged against the information or details the reader has acquired through careful reading. While a reader may use common knowledge or prior experience, the more dependable source of information or details lies within the text.

Taking bits of information or details from a text and putting them together to determine the relationship between or among that information or details allows a reader to draw a text-based conclusion. When a reader uses information or details from a text, a reader may generalize or state a general rule that in most cases a particular statement may be true about an explanation, a character, a setting, an idea, etc… Thus, drawing a conclusion or making a generalization both begins with the accumulation of information or details from a text.

Prior to reading an active, involved reader has the ability to preview a text in such a way that he/she may make predictions about the progression of the text. Upon reading a text, a reader may discover that the predictions prove correct or incorrect or simply not confirmed or refuted by the text. Those predictions that cannot be validated by text may be logical were the text to be continued. To make such predictions a reader must preview all available information or details provided in a text. Titles, subtitles, footnotes, glossed words, graphics, captions, etc…should be analyzed prior to predicting. All predictions should be based upon the accumulation of text evidence. Once predictions are made and confirmed or refuted, a critical reader reviews the evidence upon which he/she made the predictions to determine which evidence was most helpful.

When comprehending informational text, paraphrasing or summarizing a text or portion of a text is an essential skill. A reader can better comprehend the important information in a text if he/she can restate complex ideas in simpler language. When a reader can recount these ideas in language that makes sense to him/her, that reader is paraphrasing. To summarize an informational text, a reader must determine the most important ideas in that text and state them in his/her own words. As texts grow in complexity, summarizing allows a reader to focus on essential ideas to clarify understanding.

Paraphrasing a literary text allows a reader to take a more complex text and make it understood by placing difficult ideas into simpler language. For example, when a reader can tell a story in words that make sense to him/her, that reader is paraphrasing. As the lengths of stories increase, multiple characters can appear, and changes in plot and setting can occur, then paraphrasing becomes a necessary tool of a critical reader.

In a literary text, when a reader can distinguish between essential and peripheral plot actions or literary components, that reader is summarizing. When summarizing, a reader paraphrases only those essential components. As texts grow in complexity, summarizing allows a reader to focus on the important elements of a literary passage to increase understanding.

The ability to connect with a text through its characters, plot action, theme, information, message, main idea, etc…is essential for a critical reader. When a reader can identify something of himself/herself or someone that reader knows or has read about or an experience, thought, or belief that a reader has undergone or developed, that reader is connecting with a text. This attachment to a text causes a reader to better understand, extend or enhance, or counter the ideas in the text. This type of interaction with a text is thought provoking and allows a critical reader to think beyond the boundaries of a text while remaining grounded in a text. Once this connection is established, a critical reader can define how the connection is made and construct meaning while citing both text and personal ideas and experiences.