The COR Reading Comprehension Framework
Last year, I was fortunate to be involved in a year long
professional development project for teachers from a range of
independent Queensland schools. The project involved the implementation
of the COR Reading Comprehension Framework into our classrooms to
improve the teaching and learning of comprehension strategies. The COR
framework project was based on the findings of Dr Gary Woolley's
(2006) PhD thesis dissertation: The development, documentation, and
evaluation of a strategy-training program for primary school students
with reading comprehension difficulties. The focus of the dissertation
was the Comprehension of the Narrative intervention program. Although
the framework was developed to assist students with learning
difficulties, it can also be implemented as a whole-class approach and
modified to suit a particular year level.
The COR Framework
The COR framework allows students to be active researchers and
supports the application of conscious thinking and metacognitive
processes while reading and comprehending texts. This is achieved by
using the COR lesson procedures to scaffold learning and to build on
prior knowledge during each of the six stages of the program which has
been based on Bloom's Taxonomy. Each lesson incorporates a before,
during and after reading phase where the students can apply their newly
learnt strategies to the narrative or information texts at the word,
sentence, paragraph and discourse levels. Each phase of the COR
framework draws on a set of skills as summarised in Table 1.
Implementing the COR Framework into a Reading Hour
I implemented the comprehension framework as part of my Reading
Hour in my Year 2 classroom. The Reading Hour comprises of a
whole/part/whole approach. We were working on an animal unit titled All
Creatures Great and Small and were studying the characteristics and
habitats of different animals. At the beginning of our Reading Hour, I
introduced the big book Please Don't Feed the Bears and encouraged
the students to activate prior knowledge by posing the question
'What do I already know about bears?' I then modelled making a
concept map on the whiteboard of the students' known words and
information about bears. During the modelled reading, I used think-aloud
strategies and modelled using 'clicks' and 'clunks':
When we are reading and we can read the words and understand what
we are reading we click, click, click along but when we come to a word
we don't know or understand the meaning of we clunk and stop. Then
when we find a clunk, what fix-up strategies can we use to solve the
The strategies were printed on A4 Clunk Expert cards and laminated
so that the students could refer to them during shared, guided and
independent reading. After the reading, we reviewed the facts and added
new words and information to the concept map.
Reading Groups and the COR Framework
The next phase of the Reading Hour was cooperative group work.
Here, the students worked in their allocated reading groups with a
teacher, teacher aide or classroom helper on the following tasks: Guided
Reading; Comprehension; Constructing a Concept Map; Visualising.
1. Guided Reading, working with texts and generating questions
During guided reading of the text Goldilocks and the Three Bears,
the students worked with a teacher aide with the focus of the lesson
being on generating questions before, during and after the reading of
the text. The teacher aide and students used question cards to assist
them generate questions. This started as only an oral lesson as the
focus was on the discussion by activating prior knowledge, making
predictions, identifying details, determining the main idea, identifying
clunks, sharing information and generating questions to locate new
information. Eventually, the students reached the stage where they were
recording questions before, during and after reading texts in their
Learning Journals and posing questions for their peers to answer. It had
also been successful in stimulating inferential questions with students
posing questions commencing with 'I wonder why ...'. Table 2
summarises questions that can be posed (Pearson Education, nd).
2. Comprehension and clarifying information in texts
I usually worked with the comprehension group with a shared reading
approach to working with non-fiction texts. The focus of the lesson was
to identify clunks in our reading and clarify meaning. At first, the
students thought of clunks as words they didn't know. After several
lessons, they began to also identify words that they didn't know
the meaning of or didn't quite make sense in the context of the
text. Towards the end of the year, they were scanning the text and
looking for clunks and asking, what does that word mean? For example, we
came across the word 'hide' and the students didn't know
that it meant another word for the animal's skin. This provided a
great opportunity to make a word web for all the meanings of the word
'hide'. The students turned into reading detectives and got
very excited when they found a clunk in the text. 'Did you know
that grizzly means grey even though grizzly bears are brown?'
'But they do have grey tips on their fur like a grizzly old
man'. They loved sharing this fact with visitors! The students took
ownership of their clunks and used the fix-up strategies to solve their
clunks. The clunks were written on pieces of card to make a clunk chart
which gradually turned into a clunk wall.
3. Comprehension and concept maps
The concept map group worked collaboratively to construct a concept
map using coloured paper circles that they attached to a large sheet of
cardboard using bluetac. The students used a familiar text and
negotiated to reread it again independently, in pairs, all together or
in smaller groups. They worked together to determine the main idea and
identify details in the text. The students worked with a classroom
helper and generated a lot of discussion while constructing their
concept maps. The movable paper circles and blutac allowed the students
to move information around and group it in a particular way. It also
provided the opportunity to negotiate what information should be
included, taken out or extended upon. The concept maps were displayed in
the classroom and then provided a visual aid to assist the students when
they wrote information reports on a particular animal.
4. Comprehension and visualisation
The visualisation group worked with the learning support teacher
who used a sketch-to-stretch approach to develop visualising strategies
in students when reading texts to help them make sense of the text and
the author's intention. It also assisted them to make connections
to prior knowledge and life experiences. A descriptive scene is read to
the students by the teacher. The students then imagined what the scene
looked like, what the characters looked like and what events were taking
place. They then visualised and drew these details in a sketch. The
teacher then encouraged the students to think of descriptive, visual
words to describe the contents of their drawings as well as to further
develop their vocabulary. These words were recorded under headings such
as colour, size, shape, number, texture, time etc.
Whole Class Reflection
Once the reading groups had completed their activity, we all came
back together as a whole group to share our new learning. This sharing
time varied between a group sharing and individual students. The
students shared their specific achievement which may have been a clunk
that they had identified, a concept map they had constructed, new
information they had discovered or new vocabulary they had developed.
The new learning was celebrated and recorded in their Learning Journals.
This new learning was then applied in the Writing Hour with such
activities as: comparing and contrasting the non-fiction text--The Big
Bear and the fiction text--Goldilocks and the Three Bears, sequencing
the main events in the texts, writing a summary of the text read,
writing an information report and writing a description of the
characters and scenes.
The COR framework incorporates --
* Graphic organisers for visual and verbal integration
* Linking new knowledge with prior knowledge
* Cooperative group work
* Self-regulating processes--setting reading goals, monitoring
comprehension, reflecting on reading outcomes
The COR framework provides a layered scaffold that builds on the
previously learnt comprehension strategies of prior lessons. The lessons
are based on developing comprehension strategies at the factual level,
the conceptual level and the metacognitive level. Each of the six stages
of the Framework introduces a new level of cognition based on
Bloom's Taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis,
synthesis and evaluation.
During the project, we worked through the knowledge stage and the
comprehension stage. The 'wow' moments were seeing how the
students had developed more confidence in their approach towards working
with texts. They actually scanned the text looking for
'clunks' before they started reading, they were verbalising
the strategies they were using while they were reading the text and they
were generating questions about the text after the reading. The next
step is to build on this confidence and develop metacognition in their
reading comprehension by encouraging the students to set goals before
reading, monitor their goals during reading and reflect on their goals
after reading. Implementing the COR Framework has provided an effective
structure for the teaching and learning of comprehension strategies when
working with texts for both my Year 2 students and for me.
Pearson Education (nd) Questions before, during, and after reading.
Accessed November 22nd 2010 at http://
Woolley, G. (2006). The development, documentation, and evaluation
of a strategy-training program for primary school students with reading
comprehension difficulties. Unpublished Thesis, Griffith University.
Woolley, G. (2010) COR Framework: A Multiple Strategy Reading
Comprehension Intervention Project: Program Notes and Supplementary
Materials. A joint partnership: Griffith University and Independent
* Look for a part of the word that you know
* Break the word up and look for smaller words in it
* Use a picture
* Think of the story or the information in the text
* Re-read the sentence with the clunk and the sentence before or
after it, looking for clues
* Re-read the sentence without the word
* Think about what word would make sense
* Use a glossary or a dictionary
* If something is still not clear after trying all these fix-up
strategies, ask for help
Danielle Troeger is a primary teacher with 16 years' teaching
experience. She has a strong interest in the area of literacy
particularly in reading. Danielle is a trained Reading Recovery teacher
and has completed a Master of Education with major studies in literacy
from Griffith University, Brisbane. She enjoys the challenge of
implementing new teaching strategies into her classroom. Danielle
currently teaches Year 2 at Forest Lake College Brisbane.
Table 1. COR Framework (Woolley, 2009)
Consider (factual) Overview
* Skim, scan, visualise * Gist, compare and
Conceptualise (conceptual) Organise
* Discuss: vocabulary and genre * Clarify, question,
Contrive (metacognitive) Observe
* Negotiate, predict, set goals * Monitor goals:
Consider (factual) Review (factual)
* Skim, scan, visualise * Summarise, visualise,
Conceptualise (conceptual) Relate (conceptual)
* Discuss: vocabulary and genre * Extend, relate, create
Contrive (metacognitive) Revise (metacognitive)
* Negotiate, predict, set goals
What have I learned? What else do I need to know? Where will I find
Table 2. Questions to ask and answer...
DECIDE * What clues does the title give you about the text?
* What type of text is this? Fiction? Non-fiction?
* Why are you reading this text? To perform a task? To
gain information? To be entertained?
* What do you already know about the topic?
* What predictions can you make?
DURING * What did you learn from what you just read?
* Do you need to reread? Slow down? Use a different
* Can you predict what could happen next?
* What is the main idea?
* Can you summarise it?
* What picture is the author 'painting' in your head?
What details from the text help to paint this
* Are there words you do not know?
* Does not knowing these words affect your
understanding of the text?
* Do you need to look them up in a dictionary?
AFTER * What predictions were confirmed?
* What details in the text confirmed them?
* What were the main ideas and themes presented in the
* How did the author present information?
* What connections did you make to the text?