The Importance of Engaging Readers in Comprehension
Readers always need to practice their comprehension. Whether working independently, in small groups or in a whole class setting during a read aloud, comprehension should be a focus. I think it’s important to keep readers excited about comprehension. This can be done through the inclusion of a variety of ways to ask students their understanding. Through verbal discussions, fun reading response tools, journals or simple graphic organizers, readers can show what they’ve learned. When considering comprehension, it’s important to think of it in different ways too. Responding to reading shouldn’t always look the same. You want to incorporate a focus on vocabulary, specific comprehension topics and reader opinions. This can be done through my free journals.
I initially intended for these to be used with “high flyers” who are working independently. However, I’ve found that these journals work with struggling readers too. You just need to do the journals multiple times together first. Take a look at my explanations below of how you can do each of these and grab the freebie to use with your kiddos!
A Focus on Vocabulary
It is important to focus on vocabulary when working with readers of any ability level. Having students stop and focus on specific words helps them become readers who are aware. After doing this with you, they then recognize the need to do the same thing when they’re reading independently. Setting students up to define vocabulary words following a specific format will encourage them to keep coming back and doing this. A vocabulary journal works wonders and is a great resource. Filling in information about a word in written format and a picture is a huge help to understanding word meaning. I recommend doing this together in a small group first. Then send students off to do this on their own while reading independently.
These journals can be used to define new words of your choosing, or student choice words that they’re still trying to figure out. While not all students consider themselves artists, drawing a picture to remember the meaning is often very helpful. Covering both a written response and a drawn response makes a big difference in actually remembering the word.
A Focus on Reader Opinions
Opinion responses can provide you with some useful insight on good texts to send each student off with outside of small groups. Using an opinion journal, you can have readers write down how they felt while reading. They can reflect on what was difficult for them or what they liked/disliked in regard to content, style or characters. They can simply write these ideas down after they finish a book. This might be something they want to share with other students when discussing a text or simply share with you in a one on one conference. You can also try doing this at different stages while reading books. This allows you to see how readers’ opinions of the text may differ depending on time of reading.
A Focus on Comprehension Questions
Oftentimes, good readers aren’t necessarily good at comprehension, simply because they’re just focusing on getting through a text. By keeping a comprehension journal, readers are required to slow down and not simply breeze through their texts. Readers instead are taking their time and focusing on what they’re reading. A comprehension journal encourages readers to stop and jot as they’re reading, responding to various comprehension concepts. You can provide different topics to focus on each week/month, such as: character traits, theme, cause and effect, problem/solution, figurative language, etc. You can also have readers come up with their own topics as they read, simply selecting things they found interesting or noteworthy. I’ve got two different versions of this in my freebie, but they cover the same concepts.
The reason I have “why I stopped”… Have you ever noticed how hard it is for students to answer “why” questions? The more practice students have with this, the better! It gets them to really consider their responses and why they’re (or the author/character) was doing something.