SEM-R Frequently Asked Questions

How is the Schoolwide Enrichment Model Reading Framework different from what is already in place in a successful reading class?

The Schoolwide Enrichment Model Reading Framework (SEM-R) has three distinct goals: to increase enjoyment in reading, to encourage students to pursue independent reading at appropriately challenging levels, and to improve reading fluency and comprehension. One important difference in the SEM-R study involves a commitment to provide appropriate levels of challenge for talented readers. Little research has focused on challenging talented readers or using strategies that are an important part of gifted education (e.g., critical and creative problem solving and thinking, curriculum modification and differentiation, independent study, self-selected products) to encourage talented students to pursue challenging reading both in school and in their spare time. Current research indicates that many talented readers have already mastered the majority of comprehension skills but are often required to study them again as part of the regular curriculum. The SEM-R was developed to increase reading challenge and enjoyment in all students, but one important focus of this approach is to challenge talented readers.

Another difference between a traditional reading program and Supported Independent Reading (SIR) in the SEM-R is that SEM-R teachers use student reading time to meet individually with students to provide individual instruction in strategy use as well as higher-order questions to challenge and engage readers. Individual student conferences focus on assessing the match between the student and his or her chosen book and to emphasize the selection of appropriately challenging reading material of interest to the student.

Should SEM-R replace my regular language arts curriculum?

The SEM-R is an enrichment-based reading program that has resulted in increased reading fluency and achievement as well as more positive attitudes toward reading in students. Our goal is to raise the reading challenge level for all students with a special emphasis on helping talented readers work toward their full potential. However, the SEM-R is designed to enhance, not replace, a solid foundation in language arts including phonics, vocabulary, and writing instruction.

How much time should I spend on SEM-R each week?

The key to finding the right amount of time for reading enrichment is flexibility and creative scheduling. In an ideal intervention, 90 minutes of SEM-R time each day can provide both students and teachers with ample time to focus on extended periods of SIR and individual conferences with enough time remaining to delve deeply into student interests during Phase 1 and Phase 3. Nevertheless, we recognize that for many schools this recommendation is relatively impossible. The SEM-R has been successfully implemented in some of our participating schools with 50 to 60 minute blocks provided each day. Other schools have also considered maintaining the 90-minute SEM-R block, but meeting only two or three times each week. A unifying factor in every implementation has been our determination to ensure that all students strive to reach the goal of 35-40 minutes of SIR time at least three times each week.

How can I have a SEM-R team member come to my school?

We recommend having teachers participate in a SEM-R professional development workshop to prepare for implementation.  We have several team members who can visit schools to provide professional development on a consultancy basis. Please contact Lisa Muller at for further details on what is involved in setting up such a workshop. SEM-R workshops are also available during our summer professional development event, Confratute, on campus at the University of Connecticut. Please see for details.