Appropriate Grade Level: 1st to 5th Grade

Purpose: Improve Reading Comprehension by providing a framework for learning and remembering information.

This intervention emphasizes the importance of metacognitive or active reading strategies to improve comprehension. It directs students’ attention on story structure by teaching them to ask five “wh” questions about the settings and episodes of the story.


  1. Overhead Projector (or SMARTboard)
  2. Transparency and individual student paper copies of the five “wh” questions or the Detective Reader, one per student.
  3. Three or four narrative passages.
  4. Poster board chart listing the 5 “wh” questions (optional)


  1. Tell the students that they are going to play a game to help them become better readers. The game is called “Reading Mysteries” and “Storyteller” and “Detective Reader” are the main characters.
  2. Tell them that the job of the Storyteller is to provide specific clues to enable readers to make predictions about the story based on past experiences.
  3. Tell them that their job as Detective Reader is to search for clues in the story, ask questions, and make predictions based on background knowledge.
  4. Read them a story.
  5. Introduce the five “wh” story grammar questions by using an overhead or poster board chart.
  6. Call on students to answer these questions and write the answers on the transparency and have them write the answers on their copies, too.
  7. Tell the students that to be good Detective Readers, they need to think of these questions during silent reading.
  8. Practice using the questions at least two more times as a classwide activity or in reading groups.
  9. Gradually eliminate the use of paper copies for the five “wh” questions.

Evaluation of Effectiveness:
Compare the students’ scores on comprehension questions or skill sheets or daily, weekly, or end-of-unit reading tests before and after implementation of this intervention.

Rathvon, N. (1999). Effective School Interventions. New York: Guilford Press.