Reading comprehension is one of the most important skills primary students can develop in their educational endeavors. As all teachers know, comprehension is the process of analyzing and visualizing text while reading. Most teachers recognize that reading comprehension is important because of its impact on other subjects.
Many states are moving away from the standard way of testing of "just facts" in the content areas. Achievement assessments are now being created within the format of scenarios or problems. Students, today, are expected not only to read, but to understand what they are reading in order to demonstrate academic growth. How can we, as teachers, use comprehension strategies that can best help our students?
To begin with, teachers must recognize that students become active readers when they are in control of their own reading comprehension, and are given strong, purposeful instruction. Students will become much better at monitoring their comprehension when they understand when they are understanding what they are reading, and when they don't. Students can then employ strategies to "fix" problems in their understanding as they arise.
Before reading, students should define their purpose for reading, preview the text, and make a connection to the text. Then teachers can show students how to interact with the text while reading. Teachers can model how to make connections by thinking aloud while reading with the class. By asking questions, or making statements about what they are reading, teachers can model how students can use this strategy when they are reading independently. Teachers can model how to ask questions when reading by saying “I wonder…” about a part of the text. Statements about recognized events or words may be made as well.
While reading, students should check their understanding, adjust their reading speed to fit the difficulty of the text, and "fix" any comprehension problems they encounter. To use these strategies, teachers can tell their students, they need to question the purpose of the author, identify clues about the purpose of the author, and ask themselves good questions. Teachers will recognize that the use of these strategies will help students think about what they are reading.
After reading, they check their understanding of what they read. They may make notes to themselves about any problems or questions. Teachers can help students use this strategy by making reading assignments that ask students to read a portion of a text and then create questions and predictions about the entire selection. Teachers can then have the students go back and finish the passage, and answer their own questions. Teachers should walk around, and monitor the practice and use of this strategy. Reading isn't really reading if students don't understand the meaning of the text as a whole. Reading and comprehension are a cyclical process that allows students to build their knowledge and understanding The lessons below help students learn the strategies that can make them successful.
Reading Comprehension Lesson Plans:
Language Arts - Elements of a Story "Where the Wild Things Are": This is a multidisciplinary lesson for use with kindergarten through second. It focuses on character analysis, but can be modified to addess other comprehension areas such as setting, main idea, and sequencing.
Story Schema Activation Strategy: A Reading Comprehension Technique: This reading lesson was designed for use with second graders, but could be modified for use with first or third grade students as well. It demonstrates how to build comprehension through modeling and higher level questioning.
Teach Text Features & Read Nonfiction: This reading lesson was written for use with students in second through fourth. It incorporates the use of graphic organizers, and think aloud strategies to guide comprehension instruction of nonfiction passages.
Enjoying the Adventure : This multi-skill lesson was written for use with middle school students, and assists in building higher level thinking, and comprehension skills through analysis and comparison/contrast of the focus text.
Using the Comprehension Strategies: This reading lesson introduces and encourages application of six specific strategies that are integral to reading instruction at higher grades.