The RTTL strategy

Spotlight on Strategies by Erin Farmer


Reading non-fiction text can sometimes be a struggle for students no matter what the grade level. The majority of text that they need to comprehend in school and beyond is non-fiction however. The RTTL (Read the Text strategy, Think about the purpose, Talk to the text, Look back to the text) is one way to increase comprehension by having students intentionally interact with the text.
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While this strategy can be used with any topic, here's an example of using the RTTL strategy with a lesson on airplanes and how they fly.

Activate students' interest by showing them a video about flight.
Next, provide students with a piece of non-fiction text you want them to read, or have them choose their own. This article gives information about the parts of an airplane.

R stands for doing a first read. Students read the text silently.
T stands for think about the purpose. Students write or discuss what the purpose of the text is.

What comes next?

The second T stands for talk to the text. They underline ideas that connect to the purpose, circle unknown words, and write connections, questions, and comments in the margins.

Students can use printed copies of the text to make their notes. To demonstrate this skill, I use the annotate over the desktop feature with ActivInspire.
The last L stands for look back in the text to help you. What is highlighted might be based on the questions that a student is answering answering about the text. They may also use the text to write a summary of the article or use it as a piece of evidence in a persuasive essay.


Try this strategy the next time your students are reading out of a text book (make copies of the pages they are reading so they have a hard copy to take notes), a non-fiction article, or a test. After they do a first read and talk to the text, students should respond to the text in some way. They could write a summary of an article or support their position on a topic by using evidence from the text.


Airplanes. (2010, September 13). Retrieved June 8, 2014, from

Bill Nye: Flight [Video file]. (2012, December 11). Retrieved from