Areas of Expertise


Adolescent Literacy

Reading Strategies

Strategy: TOAST (Test, Organize, Anchor, Say, Test)

Readance, J. E., Bean, T. W., & Baldwin, R. S. (2001.) Content Area Literacy, An Integrated Approach. Kendall/Hunt.


TOAST is strategy which helps students independently study vocabulary terms that will enable them to better focus on words that are most difficult for them to learn. It is also recommended highly for second language learners as they attempt to master the meaning of English words.


  1. Test
    A list of vocabulary words are introduced to the class. Then each student pretests themselves on these words to determine which ones they are familiar with and which ones need to be researched. The pretest can be conducted in several ways, either individually or in pairs. One suggestion is to write the words in a column on one side of the paper. On the other side, the definition is noted. The student proceeds by looking at each word and guessing its definition as well as providing a sentence using the word. Each guess is then verified by checking the other side of the paper. These words and definitions could also be written on cards with the word on one side and the definition on the other.
  2. Organize
    All of the words are then organized, either by known and unknown, into semantically-related groups, or into student-designed categories.
  3. Anchor
    There are several methods by which students can then commit these words to their long-term memories. They might work with a partner to go over each unknown word until it becomes known. Another suggestion is to have the student use a tape recorder to tape, listen and recite each word. Examining the morphemes in the words is always helpful when learning definitions. Finally, the students could use mnemonic links to help solidify the meaning.
  4. Say
    In order to retain the meaning of new words, it is important to repeatedly rehearse them. According to Readance, the first rehearsal should take place 5-10 minutes after the initial learning. Another preview can occur later in the day, a week later, or just before the test.
  5. Test
    A posttest is necessary after each review to determine how well the words have been learned. This posttest can be given in the same manner as the pretest.

Examples: During a unit on Energy, the following vocabulary words could be tested:

  • heat
  • hydropower
  • natural gas
  • nuclear fission
  • renewable/nonrenewable
  • solar
  • OPEC/nonOPEC
  • hydropower
  • kilowatt hours
  • greenhouse effect
  • global warming
(The list can be as comprehensive as is appropriate for the class.) After this pretest, the other components of TOAST can be used to ensure that the vocabulary words have been learned and stored in the students' long-term memories.


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