Taking a Closer Look at Reading Comprehension

Need ideas for addressing comprehension strategies?  This post highlights strategies to use for modeling and small group instruction. Freebies included.

Got your magnifying glasses ready? After all, it is the deep thinking aspects of reading that are the most challenging for our learners, and believe me, the more tools we can give them, the better. In fact, the magnifying glass is a great symbol for our students to use as they read because real readers search for clues, and if we can help our readers become detectives on a quest for real meaning, then we will have achieved our goal of making meaning as we read. Unfortunately, a magnifying glass will not do it all, so read on to hear about a few tools that will help your kids connect to the text.

2014-03-26 22.44.43Again, I have called upon a few bloggy friends' expertise for the information I'm sharing, and my friend, Jenny from Luckeyfrog Learning came up with the idea of text detectives a few years ago just before our literacy group, The Reading Crew, was formed. I have used the strategy successfully with my students, and I know quite a few teachers have implemented the idea too in resources they've created. It is the idea of color coding text evidence needed to respond to specific question types. Jenny's Text Detectives products are perfect for the middle grades or struggling students in upper elementary as they practice responding to questions with short passages. You can see a sample to the right of one Jenny's used in her product. I love how students identify key words in the question in order to accurately select the information needed to respond.

Color coding can be done with any printed material, but how do we handle material we can't write in? The answer... colored post it flags. Give it a try with your next guided reading book. 

Jenny's tip for teachers:
Teach your students to question before, during and after reading. It helps them become thinkers. Asking questions before reading gives them a purpose for reading and gets them engaged. When they are looking for the answer, students read more intently. Asking questions during reading makes sure they are thinking about what they read, and asking questions after reading causes them to be reflective about the author's choices and sometimes helps them draw a personal opinion about the text. Asking questions is a great place to start students’ thinking while reading!
Another great way to extend learning is with anchor charts. I love using them with my students and have a printable set I created. I project them on my smartboard and provide a printed copy to students for their interactive notebooks.  I also have a Pinterest board dedicated to reading anchor charts that you can check out [here].

Reading comprehension comes as students implement strategies we've worked on, but kids also need to know when things aren't clicking. I tell my students things either click or they clunk, and when things clunk, you have to go to your fix up strategies. My friend Jenn from Reading in Room 11 created a great set of fix up strategy charts that she's donated to our giveaway. If you don't have fix up posters up in your room, you definitely need these as reference for your kids. I have a set (and have no idea where they came from), and I can assure you they are helpful. Here is a glimpse of what Jenn's look like. Keeping these in a strategic location will help cue your kids.

Jenn has a few teaching tips to share:
Structure and routines are very important to remember during your intervention blocks! I know this sounds basic but when you only have students for 30-40 minutes at a time, it is so important to have structure for your students and set routines so you are not wasting precious time! If students are focused, then these strategies are put into practice.
As we think about reading comprehension, not all skills are equal. Students seem to be most challenged by the deep thinking skills such as making inferences.  My friend, Jessica from Literacy Spark has developed a set to break the skill down. Starting with concrete examples and moving to more abstract helps scaffold student learning.  The image to the right is an example of how you can use images to help your students see what's not directly stated.

Jessica's tip for teaching inferences is...

When teaching students to make inferences, it takes a long time for the kids to really get it. So I like to practice the skill in a variety of ways, especially in practical, real life scenarios that don't necessarily even involve reading. One way  I did last year that the kids LOVED was to use commercials! I would just show one a day as a warm up to our reading lesson when I was really trying to kill the skill of making inferences. You can find a variety of commercials or clips on Youtube and just show a segment for discussion. [This post] on my blog gives more information on some I used with my kids.

The images below are freebies from Jenny, Jenn, and Jessica (The Three J's). 

   Nonfiction Graphic Organizers {Winter Themed}     Alphabet Chart  Text Detectives- Find the Text Evidence FREEBIE Sampler!  Text Detectives- Find the Text Evidence Super Snow Sampler!

If you want to come back to this post later, be sure to pin the image below.
Need ideas for addressing comprehension strategies?  This post highlights strategies to use for modeling and small group instruction. Freebies included.
Hope you'll join me tomorrow for great vocabulary building ideas.

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