The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 39

As a first year teacher walking into my first school, I was excited to put all my literacy skills and methods I had just learned in college into action. Much to my surprise, my new school followed a literacy model I had never even heard about. Comprehensive Literacy then became my world. I read Teaching for Deep Comprehension by Linda Dorn and Carla Soffos (2005) cover to cover, went to conferences, and worked closely with our school Literacy Coach until I had most of the components running smoothly. Now, in the middle of my second year of teaching and second year of Comprehensive Literacy, I can reflect back to one of my favorite parts of the model: flagging.

Within Teaching for Deep Comprehensive Literacy, Dorn and Soffos stress the importance of providing opportunities for transfer to occur. I already had my students using reading response logs, but when our schools literacy coach mentioned adding flagging, I was intrigued, but I also thought she was crazy! Flagging is a strategy students can use to monitor their comprehension and prepare for their literature discussion groups (Dorn & Soffos 2005). Many of my students struggled to even read for 20 minutes, now they were supposed to stop all the time and add sticky notes? Then I thought a back to my time in college. I thought isn’t that the same thing I did when I highlighted, or jotted down notes in the margin? Those small moments of transfer where in fact what helped me have success in my readings, so why couldn’t my students do the same?

Excited and inspired, I got to work. I aused multi-colored sticky notes to make a big classroom poster depicting the colors and meaning of each flag.

Blue: Questions. Pink: Unknown words. Orange: Something funny. Yellow: Connections.

I modeled and discussed this new strategy with my students, explaining that good readers don’t just plow through their texts, but instead they pause and jot down their thinking throughout their texts. I taught several mini lessons on what each color meant. Finally, we discussed how we could use those stickies to come prepared to our literature discussion groups.

Much to my surprise, it seemed my class was obsessed. Their books became colorful rainbows of stickies popping out the sides and tops, and they came more excited and prepared to talk about their books when their literature discussion groups met. Finally, and best of all, their comprehension improved.


Dorn, L., & Soffos, C. (2005). Teaching for deep comprehension: A reading workshop approach. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Lindsey Nilson is a third grade teacher at Clever Elementary School, currently pursuing a master’s degree in literacy at Missouri State University.


Children who struggle to learn phonics knowledge will often be delayed in their overall reading ability.

Blue: Questions

Pink: Unknown words Orange: Something funny

Implementing Flagging

by Lindsey Nilson



Pink: Unknown words Orange: Something funny Yellow: Connections


Connections Connections

Pink: Unknown words Orange: Something funny Yellow: Connections


Something funny

Pink: Unknown words Orange: Something funny Yellow: Connections


Unknown words


Pink: Unknown words Orange: Something funny Yellow: Connections