ELA

Improving Comprehension With Reading Strategies

Have you ever had that student that reads beautifully, but can’t seem to answer questions about the text? The one that leaves everyone in awe everytime they read because of their fluency and spot-on intonation… They may have fooled all the kids in the class and probably their parents too, but not you! You know that these students are in need of some major intervention or else they run the risk of falling through the cracks. These “beautiful readers” may be skilled at reading WORDS but the problem lies in the fact that they aren’t comprehending a word of what they’re reading 

 

Reading is such a complex process! So how do you improve reading comprehension for a student that is able to read beautifully? This post explains which 9 Reading Strategies you should be focusing on to improve comprehension.

If you’ve ever met with parents to discuss their child’s reading difficulties and have been met with puzzled looks. You know exactly what I’m talking about. These poor parents don’t get how their child is struggling when they KNOW their child can read. I mean can you blame them? How can their child be struggling when they’re such beautiful readers, right?!?!

 

Learning to read is such a complex process! Just because someone can read WORDS beautifully,  doesn’t mean they understand a lick of what they’re reading. Without explicit instruction on how to use reading strategies to tackle difficult texts, even the best of readers will struggle.  Successful readers already apply reading strategies without even realizing they’re doing it. However, it’s our strugglers that need our support and explicit instruction in order to succeed.

 

Reading is such a complex process! So how do you improve reading comprehension for a student that is able to read beautifully? This post explains which 9 Reading Strategies you should be focusing on to improve comprehension.

 

What Exactly Are Reading Strategies?

They are deliberate steps that good readers take to make sure they understand what they’re reading. In other words, they’re kinda like reading tools students can use before, during, and after reading. Reading strategies create purposeful, active readers that monitor their own comprehension. They guide students so that they read for meaning and understanding.

 

Reading is such a complex process! So how do you improve reading comprehension for a student that is able to read beautifully? This post explains which 9 Reading Strategies you should be focusing on to improve comprehension.

Why Should We Teach Them?

Research has proven that when reading strategies are explicitly taught and modeled for struggling readers, comprehension and retention improves. That alone is reason enough to teach our students valuable reading strategies. I mean the last thing we want is for our kids to spend time reading a complex piece of text only to get to the end and realize they have no idea what they’ve been reading.

 

We want to teach our students to be problem solvers. We need them to have a bag of tricks or tools ready to implement the moment they realize that they are lost in a passage. Mindless reading is not enough! Students need to be able to independently tackle complex texts and achieve some level of understanding.

 

How To Introduce Reading Strategies In Your Classroom?

I’m sure there are many different ways to introduce reading strategies… However, this is what’s been working for me and my kiddos 

 

Reading Strategies Posters

Define And Explain

Start off by introducing a specific strategy with a kid-friendly definition using posters. In the pic above you can see the ones I use in my own classroom. {You can check them out here.} Once I introduce a new strategy, I like to leave it up around the class so that my kiddos can refer to it whenever the need arises. I also give them their own mini-copy to glue into their interactive notebooks (INB). I’ll then explain how it helps readers and when it’s best to use the strategy. For example, I might say that it’s important to self-monitor while reading so they’re able to identify when their reading isn’t making any sense.

 

Model 

Start off by selecting an easy to read passage or short story such as a popular picture book. While reading it to the class, think aloud. This is very similar to what you would do in writer’s workshop. I mean what better way to teach your students what you would like them to do, then by modeling. Share how you would go about using the strategy and then actually do it in front of them. Kids need to actually see what you’re talking about in order to make sense of it all. Also, don’t be afraid to model more than once before moving on to the next step… Remember, you know your kids best. Trust your gut… If you think your kiddos need more modeling, go for it! Especially since some strategies are more complex than others and will probably require repeated modeling.

 

Guided Practice

After you’ve modeled and feel you’re kiddos are ready to move on, provide guided practice. This is the step when you start to give your students more responsibility. Select an easy to read text and as a class practice applying the strategy. This is your time to address and correct any misconceptions or mistakes you see them making. This would also be a great time to create an anchor chart to display around the class. Anchor charts like the one below, are great for visual learners!

Source: Teaching My Friends

 

Next, using another easy to read text or a different passage from the same book, have students apply the strategy with a partner. This gives them some freedom while providing them a slight level of support, kinda like a security blanket 

 

Reading is such a complex process! So how do you improve reading comprehension for a student that is able to read beautifully? This post explains which 9 Reading Strategies you should be focusing on to improve comprehension.For guided practice, I like to use activity sheets like the one above which is part of my Reading Strategies Unit. I love that they fit inside my students INB. Once they glue them down they can be used as references in the future. Whenever my students need a little refresher on one of the strategies we’ve covered, all they have to do is flip back to their reading notebooks and voila! They not only have an activity we completed together to refer to but also their own personal copy of each of the reading strategies posters.

 

Independent Practice

It’s now time for them to practice implementing the strategy on their own. Follow the same procedures as with guided practice, just without a partner or buddy and using a self-selected piece of text. You can have your students use Post-It notes to show their thinking. I’ve found that any time I bring Post-Its into the mix, my kiddos tend to be more engaged. So this would be a great time to use them! It’s also a great way to provide some support in the beginning. Once they get the hang of it and are able to automatically apply the strategy, you’ll know it’s time to lose the Post-Its.

 

Reading is such a complex process! So how do you improve reading comprehension for a student that is able to read beautifully? This post explains which 9 Reading Strategies you should be focusing on to improve comprehension.

Which Strategies Should I Teach?

Although I’ve seen many different strategies floating around the web and on Pinterest, the following 9 strategies are the ones I use with my 3rd graders. I’m not saying they’re better than others, just that these are the 9 I really focus on. I’ve found them to be quite helpful especially for my struggling readers. I usually introduce reading strategies right from the beginning of the school year, but you can actually start at any time. And although I introduce them one at a time, I’m constantly revisiting them.

 

Reading is such a complex process! So how do you improve reading comprehension for a student that is able to read beautifully? This post explains which 9 Reading Strategies you should be focusing on to improve comprehension.

  • Visualizing- When the reader uses an author’s words to create mental images. In the picture above, you can see a simple visualizing activity I did with my class. Basically, we read a short passage and then underlined keywords that helped us visualize what was going on in the text. Using those key pieces of information, students drew detailed illustrations. {If you’d like to try this visualization activity with your kiddos, feel free to download your own copy below!}

 

Visualization Freebie

Reading is such a complex process! So how do you improve reading comprehension for a student that is able to read beautifully? This post explains which 9 Reading Strategies you should be focusing on to improve comprehension.

  • Activating Schema-  Schema is made up of everything we know or think we know. I like to tell my students that schema is like a filing cabinet we have in our heads. When we read/learn new information we either file it inside of a folder that already exists in our brain or we create a NEW folder. Activating prior knowledge can be as simple as completing a KWL chart, having students turn and talk with a partner, or having a brainstorming session.

 

  • Making Predictions- Most children are familiar with this strategy. It involves using picture clues and/or the text to make guesses about what will happen in a passage. While reading students should be looking to confirm or revise their predictions based on the new information they gather.

 

  • Making Connections- This strategy involves students making connections to find ways to personally relate to a text. The connection can either be one of Text-to-Self, Text-to-Text, or Text-to-World. In Text-to-Text connections, the student makes a connection between the text and their own life experiences or feelings. In a Text-to-Text connection, they find a relation between the text and another book they’ve read. Finally, in a Text-to-World connection a connection is made between the text and events in the real world.

 

  • Making Inferences- Is when students put their own experience and schema (knowledge) together with clues from the text to figure something out that the author does not say in the text.

 

  • Self Monitoring- While reading students need to listen to themselves. They need to monitor to see if what they are reading looks right, sounds right, and makes sense. Good readers know when they understand what they are reading and when they do not because they are self-monitoring.

 

  • Asking and Answering Questions- Students learn to ask themselves questions before, during, and after reading. This forces them to analyze different parts of the text.

 

  • Determining Importance- Students need to learn to decide what parts of the text are important and which details are extra.

 

  • Synthesizing- While reading and collecting new information, students thinking changes and they build a new understanding of the text.

 

If you’d like to take a closer look at the resources mentioned above, you can find them all in my TpT store by simply clicking the picture below.

Reading is such a complex process! So how do you improve reading comprehension for a student that is able to read beautifully? This post explains which 9 Reading Strategies you should be focusing on to improve comprehension.

How do you help your students think about the text while reading?

 

 

Pin the image below to be able to save this post and come back to it later…

Reading is such a complex process! So how do you improve reading comprehension for a student that is able to read beautifully? This post explains which 9 Reading Strategies you should be focusing on to improve comprehension.

 

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Deann
    January 13, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    Very helpful post. Thanks very much for sharing these motivating tips.

    • Reply
      Melissa
      January 13, 2018 at 8:51 pm

      I’m so glad you were able to find my post so helpful Deann! Hopefully you found something you can apply in your own classroom :0)

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