CSR (03) - Click or Clunk?

Learning Strategy
Comprehension, Vocabulary
Tier I,II

Reading Passage

Reading Check Sheet

Reading Recording Sheet

Learning Log (if using strategy as part of the Collaborative Strategic Reading Strategy)

Target Student

all students can benefit from this learning strategy


This strategy can be used as part of the Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) reading strategy.


Click or Clunk? is a self-checking learning strategy comprehension. Clicks are sections of the text that make sense to the reader; comprehension “clicks.” Clunks can be word(s), idea(s), or concept(s) that do not make sense to the reader; comprehension “breaks down.” Using this strategy, students periodically check their understanding of sentences, paragraphs, and pages of text for “clicks” and “clunks” as they read. If they encounter problems with vocabulary or comprehension, they use a checklist to apply simple strategies to solve those reading difficulties.


Click or Clunk? is a learning strategy. After students have been taught how to use this learning strategy, it is to be used by students independently. Students can also use this strategy with peers. Learning strategies aid students in understanding information. Explicit Instruction (Modeling, Guided Practice, Independent Practice) should be used when teaching learning strategies to students.

How To

Explain that In the Click or Clunk strategy, words, concepts, or ideas that students instantaneously understand are called clicks. Comprehension is just clicking along.Those that make no sense to students and so interfere with comprehension are known as clunks. Clunks are like potholes in a road that impede the process of smooth driving. To decipher the meanings of these clunks, students can use a variety of word-identification or fix-up strategies.


Show a poster of or distribute copies of the Reading Check Sheet. Explain that this strategy can be used in a paragraph, a multi-paragraph section, or an entire page, based on the needs and age of the students. Using smaller passages may take more time, but lead to increased comprehension. Longer passages shorten the activity, but may not result in a as deep an understanding of the text. Based on the type and length of text selected, you can instruct students to follow certain procedures when they are reading. For example when they come to:


The end of each sentence, they should ask the question, "Did I understand this sentence?" If students understand the sentence, they say "Click!" and continue reading. If they do not understand, they say "Clunk!" and refer to the strategy sheet My Reading Check Sheet to correct the problem.


The end of each paragraph, they should ask the question, "What did the paragraph say?" If they do not know the main idea(s) of the paragraph, students refer to the strategy sheet to correct the problem.


The end of each page, they should ask the question, "What do I remember?" If they do not remember sufficient information, students refer to the strategy sheet My Reading Check Sheet to correct the problem.


Provide a model using a passage from current content. Be sure to explicitly demonstrate the difference between a click and a clunk. When you read through a sample passage with the class during modeling, be sure to follow the procedures aloud. At the end of each sentence (or paragraph, page) "think aloud" as you model use of the comprehension checks. (As you read each sentence, be sure to call out "Click!" when you and the class understand a sentence and "Clunk!" when you do not.). You may want to reinforce this distinction by reading or asking the class to read a short section of text and then having students report any clunks they may have encountered.


Have students begin guided practice. In the beginning stages of utilizing this strategy, students should have a copy of a Reading Check Sheet that contains a list of reading strategies. Over much time and practice, students should be able to apply the fix-up strategies without the aid of the Check Sheet.


All of fix-up strategies on the student handout must be reviewed with the students. Ideally, these strategies should have already been taught to the students using explicit instruction. Here are four fix-up strategies students can use when encountering a clunk involving a specific word:

1. Reread the sentence with the clunk was a blank space and see if you can guess another word that might be appropriate in place of the clunk. There is a good chance that the clunk is a synonym.
2. Reread the sentence with the clunk and the sentences before or after the clunk to look for clues (i.e., other words or phrases that may partially indicate the meaning of a clunk).
3. Look for a prefix or suffix in the clunk that may help to define its meaning.
4. If possible, break the clunk into smaller, more familiar words that may indicate the clunk’s meaning.

(Adapted from Interventions for Reading Success, 2007; The IRIS Center, 2016)


Anderson, T. (1980). Study strategies and adjunct aids. In R. J. Spiro, B. C. Bruce, & W. F. Brewer (Eds.) Theoretical Issues in Reading Comprehension, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Babbs, P. J. (1984). Monitoring cards help improve comprehension. The Reading Teacher, 38(2), 200-204.

Research Summary

What Works Clearinghouse

Related Resources

Reading Check Sheet & Recording Sheet

Interventions for Reading Success

Related Websites

Click or Clunk? Direction Sheet

Click or Clunk? Information

IRIS Center CSR Module

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