CSR - Collaborative Strategic Reading

Learning Strategy
Tier I

Learning Log

Cue Cards

Clunk Cards

Timer (optional)

Target Student

All students can benefit from this learning strategy, particularly those that have difficulties comprehending expository text.


The Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) strategy incorporates cooperative learning, vocabulary development, questioning techniques, opportunities to practice, and students’ use of prior knowledge. As a multi-component reading strategy, its success is based on use of all four of the following components each time students read Preview, Get the Gist, Click or Clunk?, and Wrap Up. CSR was designed to be used with expository text, but can be adapted for other text.




CSR is a collaborative learning strategy in which, after they have learned the four components through whole class instruction, students will use them with a small peer group. Explicit Instruction (explanation, modeling, guided practice, independent practice) should be used to teach CSR to students.


Using Explicit Instruction to Teach a Strategy
1. Explain the strategy. Using posters for each strategy, tell students what steps they will be expected to follow and explain why students should learn them.

2. Model the strategy. Next, use modeling- Use a think aloud strategy, and voice aloud the thought process behind each stage. This may need to occur over the course of several days based on the needs of the students.

3. Guided practice: Guide students in performing the strategy in small groups or in pairs. During this time, scaffold the learning and support students who need assistance in using the strategy. They can also model the think aloud strategy (when in pairs) to strengthen comprehension and learning of the steps involved.

4. Independent practice: After guided practice, students should only use the strategy independently, once they have shown they have mastered the strategy. Students can also be given the opportunity to reflect on the strategy.

How To

When teaching the CSR strategy for the first time, it is easier to select a high-interest passage composed of several paragraphs. These paragraphs should have one main idea (per paragraph), contain clues to help students predict what they are learning, and should be at an appropriate reading level.

CSR consists of four reading strategies students apply before, during, and after reading a passage in a peer-mediated learning environment. Specific information on how to implement these strategies—the Preview strategy, the Click or Clunk? strategy, the Get the Gist strategy, and the Wrap Up strategy—can be found on their individual pages.

CSR incorporates multiple strategies; consequently students will require time and opportunity to learn each strategy before they are able to use them effectively in combination. Teachers must instruct students on how to use each strategy until they are able to perform it independently.

Once the students have mastered the four strategies, longer sections of text should be introduced (e.g., first paragraphs, then sections, then chapters). Teachers should also help students to make connections between the content and their prior knowledge.

As students utilize the CSR approach, they will apply each of the four strategies in turn. It is beneficial for students to record their thinking for each strategy in their learning logs. Students use learning logs to record their predictions, clunks, gists, and wrap up review questions. The learning logs serve as a permanent record so that teachers can review their progress. Students can use them to study for future tests and quizzes on the material. Additionally, they can be used to keep track of student learning and create a basis for follow-up activities.

CSR should be implemented in groups of three or four. Groups should be teacher selected. Procedures will also need to be put in place to address behavior management concerns. Each student in the CSR group will have one of four roles (Leader, Clunk Expert, Gist Expert, Announcer). In the case that a group has three members, the leader and announcer roles can be combined. Students should have the opportunity to experience all roles, but should have enough time to master a particular role before experiencing a new one.

The leader helps the group use the four reading strategies and reminds each member when to do his/her assigned task.

The clunk expert reminds group members of the Click or Clunk? strategy when facing a difficult word or concept.

The gist expert reminds group members of the steps of the Get the Gist strategy to discern the main idea for each paragraph in the text.

The announcer calls on members to read or share ideas. S/he makes sure everyone participates and only one person talks at a time.


(Adapted from the IRIS Center, 2016)


Bremer, C. D., Vaughn, S., Clapper, A. T., & Kim, A. (2002). Collaborative strategic reading (CSR): Improving secondary students’ reading comprehension skills. Improving Secondary Education and Transition Services through Research, 1(2), 1–7.

Dimino, J. A., Simon, E., & Vaughn, S. (2007). Collaborative strategic reading (CSR): Improving reading comprehension skills. National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) Conference Call Presentation, September 17, 2002.

Education Development Center. (2007). Reading: Reading expository text. Retrieved March 4, 2008, from http://www.literacymatters.org/content/readandwrite/expos.htm

The IRIS Center. (2008). CSR: A reading comprehension strategy. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/csr/

Klingner, J. K., Vaughn, S., & Schumm, J. S. (1998). Collaborative strategic reading during social studies in heterogeneous fourth-grade classrooms. The Elementary School Journal 99(1), 3–22.

Klingner, J. K., Vaughn, S., Dimino, J., Schumm, J. S., & Bryant, D. (2001). Collaborative strategic reading: Strategies for improving comprehension. Longmont, CO: Sopris West.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Neufeld, P. (2005). Comprehension instruction in content area classes. The Reading Teacher, 59(4), 302–312.

RAND Reading Study Group. (2002). Reading for understanding: Toward an R&D program in reading comprehension. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. Retrieved July 12, 2007, from http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1465/MR1465.pdf

Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. (2001). Collaborative Strategic Reading. Retrieved June 25, 2007, from http://www.sedl.org/cgi-bin/mysql/buildingreading.cgi?l=description&showrecord=15

Vaughn, S., & Klingner, J. K. (1999). Teaching reading comprehension through collaborative strategic reading. Intervention in School and Clinic, 34(5), 284–292.

Vaughn, S., Klingner, J. K., & Bryant, D. (2001). Collaborative strategic reading as a means to enhance peer-mediated instruction for reading comprehension and content-area learning. Remedial and Special Education, 22(2), 66–74.

Research Summary

What Works Clearinghouse

Related Websites

IRIS Center Module

CSR Reading Guides, Videos, & Instructional Materials

CSR Toolkit

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