The Science of Reading in Practice: Accelerate Language Comprehension with the Strive-for-Five Framework

pgodbole  //  May 24, 2024

The Science of Reading in Practice: Accelerate Language Comprehension with the Strive-for-Five Framework

Following the launch of Scholastic Educations' Literacy Framework, the team has kicked off a six-part "Science of Reading in Practice" series to provide educators best practices for implementing evidence-based strategies into their reading instruction. Six Scholastic Professional Authors share evidenced-based strategies rooted in classroom experiences that build the foundational skills students need to become successful, confident readers.

In our third installment, literacy experts Dr. Tricia A. Zucker and Dr. Sonia Q. Cabell joined Dr. Amanda Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic, to discuss a framework to get kids talking to accelerate their language comprehension and literacy in their book, Strive-for-Five Conversations

The “Strive-for-Five” framework consists of several principles (with literacy at the core) that are critical to improving student learning. The framework was designed to help accelerate young children’s language and literacy development, while building confidence and developing their language comprehension. The authors share three strategies that teachers can use to implement “Strive-for-Five'' in their classrooms in order to stretch student conversations further, using the three turns out of five teachers take in conversation with students.

Turn 1: Ask Meaningful, Open-Ended Questions

  • Open-ended questions often elicit a more than one word response, and can allow teachers to start a longer, more stimulating conversation with students. 
  • Try asking questions that start with ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘who’, or ‘where’, which typically cannot be answered by yes or no.
  • When reading to the class, it’s fine to ask some closed questions in order to check student understanding, but when implementing the “Strive-for-Five” Framework in conversation, make sure you serve up a really nice open-ended question in turn 1.

Turn 3: Scaffold Up or Down 

  • Once the student responds to the open-ended question from turn 1, decide whether to scaffold up and add a challenge (if the student answers correctly), or scaffold down to provide support (if the student answers incorrectly).
  • The authors’ research from more than 100 preschool and kindergarten classrooms in Texas and Ohio found that scaffolding comes very naturally to teachers in terms of choosing the correct direction of up or down 97% of the time. 
  • The challenge for most teachers is taking the time to keep the conversation going, because about 42% of the time in this study, teachers missed an opportunity to scaffold. 
  • Ask for extra facts about the reading if the decision is to scaffold up, or double check the initial question with the student by reframing in a simple way if you decide to scaffold down.

Turn 5: Praise and Rephrase

  • Signal to the whole group that the class is going to come back together after one student participates in a conversation using the “Strive-for-Five” framework.
  • Round out the topic of conversion so that the whole class learns what one student articulates.
  • Build on the student’s correct response, and provide more information and vocabulary from which everyone can benefit.

Check out the full webinar here and stay tuned for more tips and strategies from our “Science of Reading in Practice” webinar series! Be sure to follow @ScholasticEdu on X for more engaging educational content. 


Tricia Zucker, Ph.D., is a former early childhood teacher, and a Professor of Pediatrics and Co-Director of the Children’s Learning Institute at University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Dr. Zucker’s research focuses on early literacy and language development for children experiencing learning difficulties.

Sonia Cabell, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Reading Education at Florida State University. A former second-grade teacher and literacy coach, Dr. Cabell’s research focuses on early literacy instruction. She has served as an advisor for a variety of national organizations and state departments of education.