Sunday, May 12, 2013

Quick Reading Comprehension Strategies

"To be successful at reading comprehensio...
"To be successful at reading comprehension, students need to ..." (Photo credit: Ken Whytock)
by Kim McMinn

Reading Strategies

Teachers are often faced with students who struggle when it comes to reading comprehension and fluency.

There are a myriad of books on the subject of bringing your students to a higher level of comprehension and fluency.

However, most classroom teachers do not have a lot of time to read outside of grading papers, parent conferences, professional development requirements, administrative duties, extra-curricular duties, oh and teaching students for hours every day.

The following is a list of strategies that teachers can stick on their desk for quick reference on ideas for reading strategies.

• Have students read with a pencil in hand. They should annotate the text as they read.
• Have students use sticky notes to mark pages, concepts, or words they are unsure about and need to come back to or reference in a dictionary.
• Have students read with a dictionary on their desks or a dictionary app on their technology device for quick definitions of unknown words.
• Have students read twice. First do a "cold" read where students read straight through. Then instruct them to do a close read using highlighters or pencils to annotate and make notes.
• To increase fluency, have students read aloud the same short passages four to five times to each other.
• Have students take Cornell notes or modified Cornell notes as they read non-fiction pieces. They should notate important vocabulary, dates, or concepts.
• When reading fiction pieces, have students create action timelines or plot diagrams.
• When reading biographical pieces, have students create timelines.
• Use reading journals to assess comprehension by having students answer key questions from the reading including:

o Who were the characters that you read about today? List a characteristic for each one.
o What was taking place? Define the actions.
o When was this happening? Describe the time as part of the setting.
o Where was it happening? Describe the setting.
o Why were these events taking place? Analyze motivation of characters and action.
o How did you feel about the characters and events?
o What do you think will happen next?
o Have students write summary cards consisting of 5-7 sentences that summarize what happened in the reading whether it was in-class reading or independent reading.

Teachers are faced with a daunting task when teaching reading comprehension. Using a few quick steps to help students focus and help with self assessment can make a big difference.

Often, it is helpful in the beginning to have students pair and share as they work on these different activities. This way they can see how others formulate their assessments of what has been read and compare and contrast their own.

This can be done in a structured setting in the classroom with general guidelines to keep students on task and respectful. If a teacher allows students to pair and share for just five minutes a day when these activities are completed, it allows collaboration and reflection for each student.

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