Strategies For Reading and Comprehending Complex Scientific and Technology Text

Part 1:  Lesson Description

Lesson Title:

Strategies For Reading and Comprehending Scientific Text


This lesson is designed for learners in adult basic education (low and high level adult secondary education). The purpose of this lesson is to teach a step-wise method that involves increased complexity reading material that assists learners with building a staircase  type strategy for reading scientific and technology text proficiently. The lesson topic will include guiding students in how to ask themselves questions before during and after a passage. The questions will be used to build a staircase of information that can be compared to what they already know and personal experiences. This strategy will not only assist with appropriately answer reading passage questions but can be applied to reading and understanding complex texts for higher education and documents in the workplace.

Learner Audience / Primary Users

Adult basic education students, grade level E (low and high adult secondary education) who are interested in gaining reading proficiency skills for GED testing in the subject of reading for literacy skills in science and technology,  would like to pursue a higher education or seek careers in science and technology.

Educational Use


College & Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) Alignment

  • Level: Adult Education
  • Grade Level: E
  • Subject: English Language Arts / Literacy
  • Strand: Reading (RST)
  • Sub-strand: Reading Scientific and Technical text
  • Standard Description: 
  • CCR Anchor Standard 10:  Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently
  • RST 9-10.1: cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions
  • RST.9-10.4:  determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or                   technical context.



Material Type

Instructional Material

Learning Goals

The purpose of this lesson is for learners to be able to:

  • 1. Read and comprehend scientific text with increased complexity and accurately answer questions from text that demonstrate ability to understand what          was read 
  • 2. Build a strategy for reading scientific and technological text that can be used for higher education and in the work place.


  • Adult Education
  • Designers for Learning
  • High School Science
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Reading Sciences
  • Reading Strategy
  • Reading Proficiency

Time Required for Lesson

30 Minutes

Prior Knowledge

Ability to read at Adult Basic Education Grade Level E (specifically 9 - 10th grade). 

Required Resources

Students should have pen, paper, access to computer, tablet or smartphone and basic understanding of how to navigate to internet site to get to web sites with scientific text passages for practice.

Lesson Author & License

  • Lesson Author: Artralia Powell

Part 2: Lesson

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, the learner should:

  • Have built the first stair in developing their reading comprehension skills by developing a reading strategy

  • Read independently using strategy to ask questions before, during and after reading a short moderate in complexity section of a text and be able to           summarize text

  • Make a connection with the text by associating it with on prior knowledge or experience and demonstrate understanding of what was read by answering      questions after the text

Lesson Topics

  • How to building a think aloud reading strategy by asking yourself question before, during and after reading a text or passage. (why reading text or main         purpose, what do I already know about topic, what are the key terms, do I understand what I have read)

  • Begin with a paragraph that is simple in complexity, make notes, inferences and predictions from the passage while thinking aloud to assist with        answering questions.

  • Put it all together, read an entire text passage independently using reading strategy and answer questions after passage

Context Summary

Learners will need to develop the ability to read, analyze and comprehend complex scientific and technical text, not only to pass the exam, but also to  receive higher degrees and possible for future jobs  This will be accomplished by developing their own think-aloud strategy by asking themselves questions while reading increased complexity and length scientific passages that relate to their everyday life.  The exercises will allow learners to begin by reading a paragraph, and formulating questions as they read. Next they will work in an interactive group activity, to sharing their questions and strategies and determine the purpose of the passage and then answer questions together as a group based on their understanding of the passage. Finally learners will independently read an entire passage that is more complex using developed reading strategy and answer questions based on their understanding of the passage.

Relevance to Practice

Developing the skills and proficiency to read, analyze and comprehend scientific or technical passages or text is accomplished by building a strategy while reading increasingly longer and more complex scientific information. Learners can begin by reading scientific information that is relevant to their own lives and experiences. This will build their ability to effectively communicate the purpose and understanding of a passage from their own perspective. Repeatedly reading more passages that increase in length and complexity will assist with developing a reading strategy. Learners should then be able to use the developed reading strategy to successfully read, analyze and comprehend any unfamiliar scientific or technical information that is more complex in nature and longer in length. Comprehension and understanding of the information should be demonstrated by correctly answering questions following the reading.

Key Terms and Concepts

Analyses - active inquiry reading that is selective in nature and searches for important points

Comprehension - understanding the meaning or intent of ideas by asking questions before, during and after reading

Inferences - using what is known to make a guess about what is not known, or reading between the lines.

Predictions - using headings, text and personal experiences to make an assumption before beginning to read. Thinking ahead while reading, anticipating information and events in the text.

Stopping Points - pre-selected points within a passage to ask and answer reading questions. that are not so frequent that they hinder comprehension or fluid reading of a text

Think-Aloud - a strategy that formulates questions, answer questions, writes notes, makes connections and associations with passage or text based own experience or knowledge.

Instructional Strategies and Activities

This lesson is for a traditional classroom setting with instructor and enough learners to break into individual groups of at least 3-4 people for the warm-up part of the lesson. As an alternative for the group exercise, an individual learner can watching the movie trailer on tablet or cell phone, denoting their prior knowledge and experiences and then connecting them to the main idea of the trailer and how it applies to everyday life by writing a reflection.


Time:  5 minutes

Activity: Break students up into groups of 3-4 people. Have students watch a 2:28 movie trailer called Gattaca about genetic engineering and information technology on overhead projector, tablet or cell phone depending on the class setup. Web Site:  During movie trailer, each group member should write down at least 2 prior knowledge or prior experiences that they can identify with about genetic engineering and information technology from the movie clip.

After video is over group members should present 1 of their experiences or prior knowledge to the group and then the group should come to a consensus on the main idea of the movie trailer and creatively apply it to an everyday life scenario.


Time:  1 - 2 minutes

 Instructor should explain the importance of being able to read and understand science and technology in our society.

  • Key to future progress for mankind (ask students for examples)

  • Science and technology’s contribution to society is the creation of new knowledge, and then utilization of that knowledge to boost the prosperity of           human lives (show science and technology advancement slide)


Exercise 1: Thinking Aloud The first step in building your reading strategy

Time:  Total 3 minutes

1.  Show learners a picture of a black box (Use a PPT slide or pass out a picture) and ask them what they know about the object in picture, why is it important          and how does it relates to their life and the lives of others. Explain that it is a Black Box located in an airplane (1 minute)

2.  (Use a PPT slide with the picture of black box and titles) Ask learner, to read 2 passage titles: “An Introduction to Digital Signals” and “Why Digital Signals      Work Well” Based on the picture and titles give the below instructions:

Think Aloud:

a) what would you predict the purpose of the article was based on the title.

b) Define in your own words what a digital signal means to you

c) Relate the meaning to examples from your experience or knowledge of   

   digital signals jot them down. Elicit feedback   (1-2 minutes)

Discussion: The black box picture is an indication that it maybe or probably is a medium for which digital signals are sent.  Explain that some scientific articles may not have pictures but title of an article can assist them with analyzing the purpose or meaning of the paragraph. Engage learner, ask for feedback

Guided Practice/Evaluation:

Total Time:  6 minutes    

Exercise 2:  Simple Complexity Paragraph, Thinking Aloud and Making Notes

Guided Practice:

Time: 3 minutes

Have learners to read a paragraph from a passage taken from the ReadWorks web site called “Digitized Signals Are the Future of the Black Box”. (Pass out a printed copy of the first paragraph only, taken from the passage or use a PPT slide to slide to display it, or if students have access to computers tablets or cell phones they can directly access the web site and download the passage) . 

Provide the below instructions to the learners: (Using PPT slide, write them on the board or other medium that may be used for learners to use as a reference)

  • While reading “think aloud”, what is the purpose of the article (learners should write down the main idea or purpose of the paragraph)

  • Relate the meaning to examples from their experience (what was just discussed) and the importance and how it relates to science and technology)

  • Underline important points (underline important points so they  are easy to go back and find when answering questions)


Time: 3 Minutes

Engage learners to summarize the paragraph and provide feedback:

  • Discuss the main idea (it is important to think about the main idea when first beginning to read a passage)

  • What were the important points in the paragraph (discuss them, provide and get feedback about underlined important points from learners)

  • Ask for feedback of how it relates to their experience with digital signals and black boxes in the lesson 1 discussion apply it to science and technology


Total Time: 12 minutes

Exercise 3:  Putting it all together: Read the entire passage and answer questions independently using reading strategy

  1. Provide the entire passage for learners from ReadWorks web site called “Digitized Signals Are the Future of the Black Box”, give them 12 minutes to            complete the entire exercise including the questions. (It may be a good idea to let them know when half of the time has passed to allow time to answer           questions)
  2. Instruct them to use their reading strategy that they built in the previous 2 exercises reiterate “think aloud”: (use a PPT slide or handout with strategy)

    • Analyze the purpose of the passage

    • Analyze the main idea in each paragraph,

    • underline important points, definitions, words, etc.

    • relate the topic to own experiences, science, technology and contribution to society

  1. Complete as many questions as possible, focus on the multiple choice questions first and then come back to the fill-in questions.


Time: 4 minutes

Explain to learners that more practice is needed to further build their reading and comprehension strategy. Learners should practice at least an hour a day reading passages and using strategy leading up to the exam.

Important points to remember:

  • It is important to “think aloud while reading passages to develop and understanding of the main idea.

  • Relating the topic, key points and definition to own life experience will help with recalling information when answering questions at the end of the                passage.  

  • Thinking of science and technolgy passage information as contributions to society that boost the prosperity of human lives will make reading passages         more interesting. (show PPT slide science and technology advancement)  

  • Practice makes perfect, use the supplemental resources that will be provided to read as many passages as possible using your “think aloud” strategy.

Part 3: Supplementary Resources & References

Supplementary Resources

(Use a PPT slide or handout with sites where science and technology articles can be found), go to reading passages tab, in drop down, choose get reading passages, put in selection criteria: key word, grade, topic and skill strategy (if you want to work on specific skills), under subjects choose, biology, chemistry, physics, health and medicine or electrical engineering, choose a topic, watch videos to increase knowledge of science and technology


Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmerman in Mosaic of Thought (1997)

Genetic Engineering And Gattaca, From Gattaca (1997),, Contributed by Jason Lipshin, Questions Before, During and After Reading, (Pressley and Afflerbach 1995), 

Attribution Statements

This course content is offered by Designers for Learning under a CC Attribution license.
Content in this course can be considered under this license unless otherwise noted. 

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