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Top 5 Tips for Comprehension

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Reading is Thinking

I remember when I became a reading specialist I originally focused heavily on kids learning to read/improving reading. However, pretty quickly I realized that my little readers also needed to heavily focus on improving their comprehension. One phrase that I kept in the back of my mind was “Reading is Thinking”. I wanted my students to understand the importance of learning to read and thinking about their reading. 

While it seems like a lot to focus on as readers are improving their literacy skills, comprehension is so important. The end goals after all are to both become proficient readers and comprehenders. This can be done as long as you put a heavy focus on both. I came up with a list of a few ideas that I recommend focusing on to help your readers improve their comprehension as well. 

Top 5 Comprehension Tips

  1. Focus on fluency.
  2. Use a variety of reading response materials.
  3. Have students lead discussions for responding to text.
  4. Provide different types of texts to increase comprehension across different genres.
  5. Ask questions often, and encourage students to ask questions too.

1. Focus on fluency.

The simplest way to incorporate fluency activities into your classroom is via a fluency center. When done this way, it’s always built into your routine, so you and your students are focused on fluency. 

A few helpful links:

Check out this blog post for ideas on how to get it set up. 

Download a bunch of freebies to get you going too, when you sign up for my newsletter.

Sign up for my Fluency webinar for tips and tricks.  

Check out all my Fluency passages here.

2. Use a variety of reading response materials.

When you include a variety of reading response materials in your rotation, your students stay excited about responding to text. This can be in journals or with graphic organizers. You can also use fun markers and large paper, or sticky notes. The possibilities are endless, really. Just be creative and allow your students to use what you have in your room! 

Some helpful freebies: 

Free Comprehension Journals

Free Reading Response Graphic Organizers

3. Have students lead discussions.

I find it incredibly powerful to allow students to take over groups, whenever possible. This is a way to make them take ownership of their learning. Students take pride in being able to lead a discussion. Check out this blog post for some ideas on how I recommend doing this!

4. Provide different types of texts.

There are so many different options when it comes to using a variety of texts. Books, chapter books, passages, fiction, non fiction, poetry, and the list goes on. Just like offering a variety of reading response options, different types of texts keep readers interested in reading. It also provides students with a chance to improve their ability to learn from all kinds of texts. Informational texts, for example, require a slightly different focus and thought process when reading and learning. The more exposure kids get with a variety, the better they get!

If you’re looking to add some new types of text into your rotation, take a peek at these:

Guided Reading- FictionNon Fiction

Fluency- FictionNon Fiction

Comprehension Stories

Free Comprehension Stories 

5. Ask questions often and encourage students to ask, too.

As mentioned above, in #3, getting kids involved in being leaders is hugely important! You can regularly model how to ask questions, as you are doing a read aloud. Picture walks are an excellent way to do this. When introducing a story for Guided Reading, this is a great opportunity to model how to ask a question about the text. 

Once students see how to ask questions, you can encourage them to be in charge of asking the questions as well. Question stems written on sentence strips, question words written on notecards and pre-made question cards all help students become good at asking questions. 

Check out these resources and blog post to get going in your room:

Getting readers to ask the questions blog post

Questioning Strategy Pack

Guided Reading Response Pack

Close Reading Response Pack

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