Teaching Strategy

Say Something

Community Inquiry
Grade Level


A comprehension strategy during which student take turns reading aloud to each other, stopping occasionally to comment on the text.


During reading and re-reading


Say Something gives students the opportunity to collaboratively interpret text and check for understanding. Rather than read through a text without focus, this strategy teaches students to attend to their reading by stopping to “say something” at intervals in the text. Sentence starters can assist reluctant readers or students who find it difficult to “say something.”


  1. Select a central text.
  2. Put students into pairs. Instruct them to take turns reading and pausing to “say something.” Depending on student skill and comfort levels, consider providing sentence starters.
  3. The first student reads a chunk of text aloud to the other student. Depending on the text length and complexity, they may read a paragraph, several paragraphs or a page. The first few times students do this—or for those who struggle with this step—consider chunking the text ahead of time or setting parameters for how often or when they should pause to “say something.”
  4. After reading, the first student stops to “say something” about what has been read, returning to the text to comment on a specific aspect (e.g., central idea, author’s style or purpose, character development, etc.). The student’s comment should be text-dependent and explicitly rooted in the text to support his or her developing understanding of the text.
  5. The second reading partner responds to what was said, then picks up the reading until the next time they stop to “say something.”
  6. Reading partners alternate the reading of the text, talking after each section until they have completed the reading.

Depending on student skill level and text complexity, “say something” may not be enough of a directive. Even strong readers may believe they have nothing to say or doubt that what they have to say is worth sharing. Model the strategy first by thinking aloud, setting the purpose for reading, and providing students with sentence starters designed to help them address the text with their comments.

English language learners

This strategy is appropriate for intermediate English language learners (level three or above). Strategic pairing of students and the use of sentence starters support developmental language acquisition. Consider offering English language learners an option to use choral or echo reading techniques instead of taking turns.

Connection to anti-bias education

Say Something relies heavily on speaking and listening skills to improve reading comprehension. Students work together to interpret what is being read. Meaningful conversations about the central text will touch on issues of identity, diversity, justice, and action. Thus, active listening and respectful speaking can be integrated into instruction in a way that meets the goals of both anti-bias education and improved literacy.