Fix-up Options and the Analogy of the Car
A Way to Remember the Sixteen Fix-up Options
for Regaining Comprehension
By Judi Moreillon
Coteaching Reading Comprehension Strategies in Secondary School Libraries:
Maximizing Your Impact (Chicago: American Library Association, 2012)
Why an analogy?
Researchers who have studied intelligence
and those who have studied achievement
on standardized tests agree that people
who can recognize and create analogies
have more pathways in their brains that can
help them understand new information.
Marzano, Robert J., Debra J. Pickering, and Jane E. Pollock. Classroom Instruction That
Works: Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. Alexandria,
VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001. 26.
What is an analogy?
People (speakers and writers) use analogies to
express relationships among things. Like similes
and metaphors, analogies show similarities and
Analogy: Michael Jackson was to popular culture as Elvis
Presley was to Rock ’n’ Roll.
How were they similar? They both were called “The King.”
How were they different? Let me count the ways!
Why a car?
Connecting the parts of the car with analogies for fix-up
options can help you remember the various options
available to you to regain comprehension if you lose it.
The parts of a car have functions that parallel the way
readers use fix-up options.
Just as new drivers must learn to use all the parts of the
car to drive safely, readers must learn to use fix-up
options to be effective, strategic readers.
How do you know when
you’ve lost comprehension?
What are the symptoms? Share your ideas. Then consider
feels bored or confused
starts to daydream
starts to mentally do other tasks (think about after school
or next weekend)
starts to physically do something else (tap pen, shake
foot, doodle, reach for phone, bother neighbor…)
The Analogy of the Car
Using Fix-up Options
16 ways for readers
to regain comprehension
once they have lost it…
Analogy: Brakes are to driving as fix-up options are to readers. When drivers
realize they are going too fast or in the wrong direction, they apply the brakes
to get the car under control or get back on track. Readers regain control of
meaning making, they get back on track, by applying fix-up options.
Stop to think.
Try to visualize.
Engage all five senses in
Analogy: Headlights are to nighttime drivers as sensory images are to
readers. When driving at night, drivers turn on their headlights so they can
see where they are going. Using sensory images to support comprehension
is best when it involves sight as well as the other four senses: hearing, taste,
touch, and smell.
Ask a new question.
• Does this make sense?
• Question the text and the author
Analogy: The steering wheel is used by drivers the way questioning is used
by readers. Drivers use the steering wheel to take charge and direct their
journey. Readers use questioning to be active participants in meaning
making; they use questions to determine the direction of their inquiry.
Make a prediction.
Read on to find out if the
prediction was correct.
Analogy: Accelerators are to drivers as predictions are to readers. When
readers make predictions about what will happen next, they can read on to
determine if they are correct. Predictions, like accelerators, help readers
move faster and more confidently through texts.
Study the illustrations
or other text features.
Ask someone for help.
Figure out unknown words.
Look at the sentence structure.
Make an inference.
Evidence in the Text +
Background Knowledge = Inference
Analogy: Accelerators are to drivers as inferences are to readers. When
readers make inferences and are able to read between the lines, they can
derive more meaning from the texts they read. Inferences, like accelerators,
help readers move faster and more confidently through texts.
Connect to background knowledge.
Analogy: Rearview mirrors are to drivers as background knowledge is to readers.
Drivers should always look in their rearview mirrors before setting out on a journey;
they have to know what is behind them before they go forward. Building and
activating background knowledge supports comprehension just as knowing what is
behind the car helps drivers safely navigate the roads.
Read the author’s or illustrator’s note.
Write about the confusing parts.
Make an effort to think
about the message.
Another way to say this is to
determine the “main ideas.”
Analogy: Tires are to cars as main ideas are to readers. Drivers should always
make sure a car’s tires are inflated; without tires, the car cannot go anywhere.
Readers must know their purpose for reading and must be able to determine
importance, the main ideas, so they can “get somewhere” in their reading.
Define/redefine the purpose for
reading this text.
Putting It All Together
Analogy: The car is to drivers as synthesis is to readers. When readers use all
of the reading comprehension strategies and fix-up options effectively, they can
synthesize ideas and information from many parts of a text and from multiple
texts. Just as it takes all of the parts to make a functioning car, readers can use
reading comprehension strategies to deeply comprehend what they read, view,
Strategic readers use fix-up options…
when they lose comprehension.
They practice using all the options.
They learn to pick the option or options that will
work best for that text and for their purpose for
If one option doesn’t work, they try another.
Sometimes it takes more than one option to
Analogy by Judi Moreillon
Car images by Jonathan Thompson