Areas of Impact


Age Group

Middle school 


20-30 minutes 




Print Materials

Say Something Cards

academic strategies, Collaboration & Community Skills

Say Something cards deepen students' reading comprehension in a fun, collaborative way.


These cards scaffold students’ metacognitive thinking while reading.


Teachers can use these cards to support students’ reading comprehension with any text, fiction or non-fiction.


Because students may not be used to processing what they read deeply, introduce the method one card at a time, using texts appropriate to those strategies. Also, at first use only the front sides of the cards (Predict, Monitor, Question, Clarify, Visualize, Comment, Connect, or Compare). After students show mastery of the front sides, introduce the “Build” side on the back. Once students are practiced using all of the cards, they can choose which card to use as they pause during reading.

Students should work with a partner who reads at a similar reading level. In this way, each student provides a scaffold in the zone of proximal development to the other.


1) Student A reads 1-2 paragraphs of the assigned text (no more than ½ a page).

2) Student B listens and follows along with the text.

3) Student B chooses one sentence starter from the front side of the card.

Option: If students have practiced enough with the front side, then add the “Build” side from the back. In that case, Student A then “Builds” on what Student B said by choosing a sentence starter from the back.

4) Students together repeat steps 1 - 3 with the roles reversed, reading the entire text together.

While students are working, be sure to catch them doing this correctly! Positive narration of their work fosters their engaging in it even more.

Also, remember that students will need to build their stamina in using them. Start with short texts that require no more than 15-20 minutes of reading time. Later, students will be able to sustain their collaborative reading for 45 minutes or even more.

With practice, students eventually will be able to interact with new texts without using these scaffolding cards.

Tip: Photo-copy each card on a different color of paper so that they are easy to sort and organize!

Related Content:

When Kids Can't Read:  What Teachers Can Do:  A Guide for Teachers, 6-12 by Kylene Beers

Leading for Literacy: A Reading Apprenticeship Approach by Ruth Schoenbach, Cynthia Greenleaf & Lynn Murphy.

Reading Apprenticeship