THIEVES- Pre-Reading Strategy

Description of THIEVES:

THIEVES is a great strategy to help students preview text books or non-fiction material. It guides students through the chapter and provides them with an overview of what is to come, thus setting a purpose. Students use previewing skills in their everyday lives to decide what foods to eat, clothes to buy, and movies to watch. With this strategy, students use previewing to activate their prior knowledge and set a purpose for reading. Using a strategy called THIEVES, students are guided through a preview of a nonfiction text. After guided practice, partners work together to use the strategy to preview a chapter from a textbook. Students discuss what information they "stole" from the chapter and discuss how the strategy is useful in better understanding a text. In a culminating activity, students can write a letter to their partner in which they describe why previewing is a helpful strategy and describe how to use the THIEVES approach.THIEVES is an acronym that stands for:

What is the title?
What do I already know about this topic?
What does this topic have to do with the preceding chapter?
Does the title express a point of view?
What do I think I will be reading about?


What does this heading tell me I will be reading about?
What is the topic of the paragraph beneath it?
How can I turn this heading into a question that is likely to be answered in the text?


Is there an opening paragraph, perhaps italicized?
Does the first paragraph introduce the chapter?
What does the introduction tell me I will be reading about?


What do I think this chapter is going to be about, based on the first sentence in each paragraph?


Does the chapter include photographs, drawings, maps, charts, or graphs?
What can I learn from the visuals in a chapter?
How do captions help me better understand the meaning?
Is there a list of key vocabulary terms and definitions?
Are there important words in boldface type throughout the chapter?
Do I know what the bold-faced words mean?
Can I tell the meaning of the boldfaced words from the sentences in which they are embedded?


What do the questions ask?
What information do I learn from the questions?
Let me keep in mind the end-of-chapter questions so that I may annotate my text where pertinent information is located.


What do I understand and recall about the topics covered in the summary?

You can provide students with a bookmark with the following information/prompts to help remind them and guide them through each step of the preview process.



Read the title of the
chapter and predict what the
chapter is about.


Look at all headings
and the table of contents. Turn
them into questions that the
text will probably answer.


Read the
introduction and any questions or
summaries at the beginning.
Predict the main idea.


Everything I Know About It

Think of everything I have
seen, read, or done that may
relate to this text.



Look at pictures,
graphs, diagrams, or maps, and
read their captions. Notice lists
with letters or numbers that
point out important information.
Read all the notes in the margins
and notice bold and
italicized words. Make notes (or a web) of

what I plan to learn.


End-of-Chapter Material

Read end-of-chapter material,
such as summaries or questions
that I will try to answer by


So What?

Why did the author
write this? Why am I reading
this? Knowing the purpose helps
me comprehend. (S can also stand
for text structure.)

Students can often be intimidated by non-fiction text and their eyes often glaze over when you begin using it. This is especially the case for struggling readers. Students need to be taught how to work through and manipulate the information provided by a non-fiction text. This is a crucial skill to have, especially for students who plan on going to college. This is a fun interactive way to preview and become comfortable with the text students will be reading. They will be able to work collaboratively with a partner and the activity makes it fun and engaging, seeing as it is somewhat like a treasure hunt, but instead an information hunt. What's even better is that students are using many effective thinking strategies that are associated with successful readers such as predicting, inferring, asking questions, etc. And they don't even know it :)

How I Would Use THIEVES:

Unfortunately, using a textbook is a part of the curriculum at my school. Therefore, I would have student's use the THIEVES strategy to preview the upcoming chapter. Although, I use a lot of supplementary materials, I do follow the framework provided by the curriculum, which is the same framework from the textbook. Therefore this would guide students and allow them to preview and get an idea of what was to come in the following unit. I would have students work in partners to complete the following worksheet together. We will then come back together as a class and report-out what we have found.


Practice Sheet

Directions: Our class is going to become information thieves after this activity.
See how much information you can “steal” from the chapter before reading it.


From the title, predict what the text is about



Look at all headings (and the table of contents) and then turn two of them into

important questions that you think the text will answer (Why…? How….?).


Use the introduction and first paragraph to predict the main idea (or to create a big

question you think the text will answer).



Write down everything you know about the topic. Use the back of this paper, if

necessary. Circle any of your notes you would like to know more about, or write a

question about them.


List three important visuals found in the text and predict how they will help you

understand the text.


Guess the answers for the end-of-chapter questions, read any summaries, and write

down some boldface or italicized word that you think will be important to know.


So what? Why do you think the author wrote this text? What does its structure tell


Words Cited:

Adapted from: Zwiers, Jeff. Building Reading Comprehension Habits in Grades 6-12 A Toolkit of Classroom Activities International Reading Association, 2004
Using THIEVES to Preview Non-fiction Text.