3 ways to teach reading comprehension

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3 ways to teach reading comprehension
3 ways to teach reading comprehension

Reading comprehension encompasses much more than just the ability to read words correctly, as it helps readers interact with different texts and put their lessons into practice in real-life situations. It can also increase the level of confidence and help students practice metacognition, which is when they think about what they are thinking. You can help your students in many ways, from breaking down the parts of a story to interacting with them through reasoned questions about the text.


Method 1 of 3: Explain how a text works

Teach Reading Comprehension Step 1
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 1

Step 1. Define the components of a story so that students can identify them

You could make a large poster and hang it in the front of the room for everyone to see, or hand out individual worksheets with a breakdown of important terms and definitions (this will depend on the age of your students). As your students read, ask them to identify as many different parts of the story as possible. These are some terms that you should include:

  • The characters: who are the people in the story?
  • The setting: where does the story take place?
  • The plot: what happens in the story?
  • The conflict: what are the characters trying to do or overcome?
  • The resolution: how is the conflict resolved?
  • Your approach to teaching these components will differ depending on the age of your students. For younger students who are still in elementary school, you can ask them to write down what or who they identify as the main characters, where the story takes place, what happens in it, and how it is played. resolve the conflict. For older students in high school or college, you can ask them to write a 500-word summary of the main points in the text.
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 2
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 2

Step 2. Tell the students what their goals are for reading a certain text

Let them know what to watch out for as they read, regardless of whether it is just being able to summarize the text or whether they should be learning something new. Speak this objective and also make a note of it in the front of the classroom so that students can refer to it whenever they need it.

  • For example, you could say, "As you read, try to determine how our protagonist decides to resolve the situation. Would you have done something differently?"
  • If you verbalize to the students what their objective is, this will help them to approach new texts with a similar mindset and it will become a habit that will prepare them to receive new information.
  • While this might not be of great concern to older students in high school or college, younger students may find it helpful to know what to pay attention to when they first read.
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 3
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 3

Step 3. Ask students to pay attention to the images and captions

Before you start reading something new, whether you are doing it together with your students or doing an independent reading, you should always start by pointing out the title of the text and the accompanying images, either on the cover or in pages. Similarly, if there are multiple chapters, you can pause at the beginning of each one to read the title.

  • Titles and images can often give us clues as to what the text will tell us. They can be helpful for students to focus their attention.
  • Ask students how the titles or illustrations would change if they were the author. This helps them consider what those aspects of a text really communicate.
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 4
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 4

Step 4. Help students identify the parts of the text that they do not understand

Whether it's vocabulary, a plot point, or a question about a character, the ability to say what they don't understand is a big part of helping your students overcome their comprehension issues.

  • Encourage your students to ask you questions directly or to take note of questions they have about the text. They may not know the reasons why a particular character behaves in a certain way or they may not know the meaning of a word. If you pinpoint the problem, you can show them how to find the answer.
  • Here are some helpful questions your students can ask: (1) Why did the author include this section? (2) Why did this character perform this particular action? (3) I wonder why …
  • In case you work with elementary school students, you can ask them to show you the parts where they have problems with comprehension and then help them learn how to articulate that problem, since they may not yet have the vocabulary to it.
  • If you are working with older students in high school or college, you should encourage them to meet with you after school or during the hours you are in your office so you can discuss any issues they have with reading comprehension.
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 5
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 5

Step 5. Teach your students to use context clues to answer the questions

In case your students are having trouble with vocabulary, you can teach them to determine what the likely meaning of the word is by using the sentences around it. Similarly, in case they misinterpret the plot of the text, you can ask them to reread the title and opening lines so that they pay attention to the setting of the story.

  • For example, imagine that a student does not understand the word "irritated" but knows that, in the same sentence, the author wrote that there was yelling and arguing. Therefore, from that information, the student can deduce that "irritated" most likely means angry or annoyed.
  • For younger students, you can use specific text that is designed to highlight context clues as an example of how your students can do the same with other things they read. Spend an entire class period working on this example and asking students to identify things like the tone of a text, setting, plot, and other vocabulary words that might help them interpret the text in a better way.
  • Also, if you work with high school students, you could teach them about using other resources to help them make connections (for example, pausing while reading to look up something on the computer or on their cell phones, in case that they are allowed to use them in class).
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 6
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 6

Step 6. Help your students make a connection between the readings and their lives

Ask them how the story made them feel or how they would feel if they were one of the characters in it. Ask them if it reminds them of a situation in their own life or in another story they have read, and ask them to share what that situation was and how they think it is linked to the text.

  • Also, asking your students to think about their opinions on the story is important to help them develop critical thinking skills.
  • If you are working with elementary school students, you should focus more on the feelings aspect of a situation, while in the case of high school students, you could start talking about the ethical implications of a text to generate a deeper conversation. You can ask your older students to write a reaction to the text explaining how they felt and how they think the author made them feel that way.

Method 2 of 3: Practice Active Reading

Teach Reading Comprehension Step 7
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 7

Step 1. Share "thoughts aloud" with your younger students during reading time

If you are going to read to your students or everyone is taking turns reading a shared text, you should encourage questions and "trivia" in the process. For example, after reading a sentence about an action a character has performed, you can pause to say "I wonder why our protagonist made the decision to do that and not something else."

  • "Thoughts aloud" will teach students to pause and ask questions while reading, and not just focus on finishing the text as quickly as possible.
  • As a great way to stimulate "thoughts out loud," you can conduct a Socratic seminar. This is a student-led discussion in which students share ideas and questions and expand on each other's ideas and questions.
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 8
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 8

Step 2. Teach students to take notes and remember important details

In case students are allowed to mark their books, you should teach them to circle the names of important characters, place check marks next to important plot points, or even highlight or underline the parts they consider. important. As another option, you can also encourage them to take notes on a sheet of paper.

  • Marking details in text or taking notes on them can be helpful in keeping that information in mind, especially if students have difficulty remembering details.
  • If you are working with elementary school students, you may want to focus on teaching simple note taking (for example, naming main characters or organizing information by chapter).
  • For older students, you can dig deeper into note-taking by helping them create study guides and even asking them to journal about their reactions to a text in addition to taking notes in general.
  • If you have students who think visually, you can encourage them to develop concept maps so that they can visually organize the different elements of the material. For example, they could create a concept map showing the relationships between different characters or plot points.
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 9
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 9

Step 3. Ask your students to summarize what they read verbally

Ask them to focus on identifying the main characters, the conflict, and the resolution of the story. Knowing that students will talk about the story later encourages them to pay attention to plot points as they read. Also, if they can synthesize the information and repeat it, this shows that the reader understands the text.

  • You can also ask students to work in groups after reading a text and discuss what they think was the main point of the story, what they thought about the characters, and the questions they had while reading.
  • For younger students in elementary school, you can ask them to write a 5-6 sentence summary of a text.
  • For older students, you could ask them to prepare a 5-minute verbal summary to present to the class or in a small group.
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 10
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 10

Step 4. Use "thick" and "thin" questions to improve reading comprehension

"Thin" questions reflect the main components of a story (who, what, where, and when), while "thick" questions help students dig deeper. You can ask some of the following "thick" questions:

  • What if…?
  • Why did ____ occur?
  • What do you think about this?
  • What could happen in the future?
  • How do you feel?
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 11
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 11

Step 5. Make graphic organizers as a way to help older students organize information

Graphic organizers are something that students can make as they read a text to help them organize the information as they read. They can be used to chart the timeline of a story or understand the emotions or decision-making processes of the characters. Find different formats online and hold a class session to teach students how to use graphic organizers.

  • Some popular types of graphic organizers include Venn diagrams, flow charts, summary charts, and cyclical organizers.
  • Graphic organizers are great because each student may have a different way in which they need to write things. If possible, help your students determine the style that works best for them.
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 12
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 12

Step 6. Hang visual synoptic charts in the classroom

These are posters that emphasize different aspects of reading and are great to hang in the classroom so that students can refer to them as they read independently. For example, you can make a synoptic chart on context clues, on spelling words, on visualizing texts, and on summarizing information.

  • You can check out Pinterest or dedicated teacher resource websites as a way to get ideas for your own synoptic charts. There are many that you can choose from.
  • You can also emphasize a different synoptic chart each week to help your students focus on different aspects of reading comprehension.
  • Regardless of the age of your students, visual charts can help them.
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 13
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 13

Step 7. Ask your students to make a "mental movie" of the text

Ask them to visualize the action (or whatever is described in the text) as they read, and then play the movie in their mind when finished. This can help you solidify your understanding of the material.

You can also ask them to draw a simple storyboard or act out a little "movie" as a way to help reinforce their visualization

Method 3 of 3: Assign Tasks and Assess Progress

Teach Reading Comprehension Step 14
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 14

Step 1. Give your students short reading assignments and questions to answer

Assign your students assignments that reflect the lessons they learn in the classroom based on what they are working on in class. For example, if they are learning about context clues, you can assign them a short reading assignment and a worksheet that contains questions about the context clues in the text. As the assignment is turned in, ask students to work in small groups to discuss the clues they have found.

For older students, you can ask them to read several books over the course of a semester and write reactions of 500 words to each, detailing how they felt the text was written and what made them think in response. to the

Teach Reading Comprehension Step 15
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 15

Step 2. Ask your students to keep a journal in which they write reactions to the texts

Students of all ages can work on this. It can be a physical or electronic journal, depending on how you prefer. Ask them to write a reaction to the texts you assign, detailing the reasons why they think the characters made the decisions they did, what they identified as the main plot points, and how they think the story could have been. developed differently if people had made different decisions.

Ask students to turn in the journals 3-4 times during the semester or year in which you have class with them. In this way, they will not only be held accountable, but will also be able to develop their own work habits

Teach Reading Comprehension Step 16
Teach Reading Comprehension Step 16

Step 3. Research assessment tools for students of different ages

If you live in the US, there are some state-mandated tests that can help you get good information about students' ability levels, but you can also get some great online resources to use throughout the curriculum. as a way to check in with students and see how they are progressing. Be careful to test them on topics they have already covered in class, from phonemic awareness to understanding how a text is structured.

If you find that a student is not doing well on assessment tests or class assignments, they may need a little extra help. You could offer her additional credit or opportunities for one-on-one teaching time so she can focus on areas where she could improve

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