Actively Reading Textbooks


 Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review — better known as SQ3R — is a strategy for active reading comprehension. It is particularly useful for textbook chapters, magazine, or newspaper articles, as students will first survey the text for features like heading, subtitles, figures, and images, to get an idea of how the topic will be organized. Students then generate or preview questions associated with the text, to see what they can already answer, and to set a purpose for what they should think about, when they go back and read the chapter or article. Predicting answers also invests students in discovering what the text will reveal. Students take two column notes, while they read. And finally, recite or summarize the text and answer associated questions. How do you use SQ3R?



  1. I first heard about SQ3R from our school psychologist. She often will suggest that the strategy by used for assisting our Specific Learning Disabled students in comprehending nonfiction texts. I have found that it is a good way to help all students organize and sythesize the information that is presented and knowing what information is important for them to glean from the text that is read (based on comprehension questions). I’ve used this strategy in conjunction with having students write their own questions regarding other information that they’d like to know based on the information they gained from the Science or Social Studies texts. This encourages them to continue the learning process and make it meaningful to them.

  2. I remember using SQ3R when I was in high school. Looking at it now, it fits in really well with the thinking strategies and comprehension skills that we teach our kids. Students will have some background knowledge on what it is they are suppose to be surveying when the are introduced to SQ3R.

  3. I have never been introduced to this strategy until reading this blog. I’m intrigued! With Common Core, the increase in reading non-fiction texts has certainly been an adjustment for primary grade teachers. I am a secon grade teacher and while my students do not read whole chapters from textbooks, they do read articles and shorter texts that are non-fiction. SQ3R would provide a way for me to focus on the text features of non-fiction texts as well as the comprehension. Love this!

  4. I have heard of SQ3R but didn’t know exactly what it meant. I knew it was to help with reading. Now that someone has explained the acronym it goes exactly with what I teach. I have been doing part of this when I teach students to read non-fiction. I like the idea of being able to recite- or summarize in their own words- what students have read. I find my fifth graders have a hard time rephrasing non-fiction text.

    • Thank you for sharing your post. I agree, this is a wonderful tool for reading comprehension in 5th grade. In college, I remember being introduced to it. I think I first heard it as SQR (Survey, Quesiton, and Read). I just emailed the video to one of my colleagues for her input and am looking forward to adding it to our list of reading strategies. Have you heard of SPADES? I was taught this non-fiction reading strategy by Phyllis Hostmeyer during a workshop. The activity is wonderful. If you cannot find it online, email me. I would love to share it. She taught me that if a student cannot explain what they have read, then they do not understand it.

  5. This is a great strategy for Reading Comprehension. I use the SQ3R Method in my classroom; however, I did not realize what it was called. In the future, I will follow the steps identified in the video (survey the material, look at the questions, take notes, pair the scholars with a partner, have one scholar to summarize/listen, and take a quiz). Most times I have used this strategy one step has been omitted.


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