August 22, 2018 CL Teaching Strategies Pro Reads, ELA PD - Literacy, ELA K-5, ELA Focus - Reading, ELA Resources - Tip Sheets, ELA Resources - Charts/Posters, Core Literacy
How To Teach Reading Comprehension Strategies In Your School [Free Worksheets]
By: Erin Lynch
Education is a field that seems to be constantly changing and progressing through advances in technology, professional publications, and research studies on students. Every year, I find myself revising, completely changing, or even creating from scratch new lesson plans and units. The only constant that has remained for me in all these years is my goal of teaching what I like to refer to as the seven “core reading comprehension strategies.” Reading comprehension strategies help students better understand what they are reading and develop an appreciation for literature. So lets explore how to teach reading comprehension strategies in the classroom!
Keep scrolling to find 8+ FREE reading comprehension worksheets...
What Do Reading Strategies Mean for Educators?
The most important job of any educator who teaches reading is to get students thinking about what they are reading. The step after that is to get students thinking about their thoughts and the thoughts that other students have about a text. Core reading comprehension strategies support students with developing deeper thinking about a text.
If you are a regular education teacher or a specialist teaching comprehension strategies will help your students better understand what they are reading. Reading comprehension strategies also foster a deeper understanding of a text because they serve as a tool for analyzing it.
If you are an administrator, make sure your staff is teaching their students the core reading comprehension strategies. Discuss these strategies at staff development workshops, and use them as a guide for asking students questions when you visit classrooms.
Schools that use these core reading comprehension strategies will see an increased understanding in all subject areas, because students are able to better understand texts not only in reading class, but in science and social studies as well.
The 7 Core Reading Comprehension Strategies
Comprehension reading strategies help students stay engaged and think about what they are reading. Utilizing reading strategies requires students to stay active while reading a passage, which leads to them being able to comprehend a text on a deeper level.
When you explicitly teach comprehension strategies, your students are more likely to apply the strategies while reading independently. Active readers/thinkers tend to retain more information and ponder more about the text.
Here are the seven core reading comprehension strategies I teach my students:
STRATEGY 1: CREATING A VISUAL
Students use their five senses to create a mind picture of what is going on in the text. By visualizing what is happening in the text, students are more likely to notice and remember details.
Questions for students to think about while creating a visual
Why is this visual important to the story?
How does that visual help you to better understand the story?
STRATEGY 2: MAKING A CONNECTION
Students should think about the BIG idea(s) presented in a text. This will help them figure out the theme of the story. By making connections with other texts and/or the outside world, students will more easily be able to figure out the overall theme of a text and why the author chose to write about that topic.
Questions for students to think about while making a connection
How does the theme connect to other texts you have read?
How does this story connect to the world?
What is the author’s message in the story?
STRATEGY 3: QUESTIONING
Students need to remember that good readers are ALWAYS thinking and wondering. By actively reading, students will develop a better understanding of the text. Students should be aware of the difference between “thin” and “thick” questions.
The definition of thin questions is that the answer is right in the text (you can actually point to the answer in the text). An example of a thin question is “Who is the main character?”
The definition of thick questions is that the answer is supported by the text. An example of a thick question is “What is a possible lesson that can be learned from the story?”
Questions for students to think about while actively reading a text
Ask: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
STRATEGY 4: DETERMINING IMPORTANCE
Students should look for main ideas and notice the MOST important details in a text. By focusing on the events that lead to the solution of the problem and when a character changes, students will have a better idea of what might be the most important part(s) of a text.
Questions for students to think about while determining what is most important in a text
What was the problem?
What was the solution to the problem?
What events led to the solution of the problem?
Did any of the characters change?
STRATEGY 5: INFERRING
Students use their background knowledge (b.k.) and clues from the text (t.c.) to make an inference (something you know that the author does not come right out and tell you). Encouraging students to think about “why” a character did or said something, and “why” an author may have written the text creates an environment where students are naturally making inferences.
Questions for students to think about while making an inference
What new information were you able to figure out?
Why do you think the character did _____________?
Why do you think the character said _____________?
Why do you think the author wrote this text?
STRATEGY 6: SYNTHESIZING
Students take all the information from the text and tie it together. By summarizing a story, students are recalling the most important details and events in order to prove that they understood the text.
A question for students to think about while synthesizing
Can you summarize the story?
STRATEGY 7: NOTICING THE AUTHOR'S CRAFT
Students evaluate the author’s writing style. When students state specifically what they did or did not like about the text, they are encouraged to think critically and to analyze the author's writing techniques.
Questions for students to think about while noticing the author's craft
What part of the text did you like the most? The least?
Did the author use figurative language, humor or suspense?
Would you read more books by this author?
7 Free Printable Reading Comprehension Worksheets
Before we can expect students to utilize reading strategies independently, we must teach them comprehension strategies and model how they are to be applied. Modeling can be done through read-alouds, targeted lessons, small-group practice, comprehension activities, and more!
Below are resources that teachers, specialists, and administrators can use to improve the use of and teach reading comprehension strategies school-wide.
#1 Seven Core Reading Comprehension Strategies Tip Sheet
The first resource educators can use to support a higher level of thinking across all subject areas is a reference sheet for students. A student-friendly version of the seven core reading comprehension strategies should be added to students’ reading binders and/or journals. Educators can also have a poster of the strategies hanging in their classrooms.
#2 Compare and Contrast Strategy Lesson
The ability to compare and contrast is an important reading strategy for students to learn. Comparing and contrasting improves comprehension by highlighting important details, making abstract ideas more concrete, and reducing confusion between related concepts.
You can use a four-day compare and contrast lesson plan using Cinderella stories to help students in Grades 3 and up to hone their skills.
For those of you unfamiliar with the different versions of Cinderella, here's a bit of background knowledge. It is thought that the original Cinderella story is the Chinese version entitled “Yeh Shen.” Next came the French version of Cinderella, by Charles Perrault (this is the also story that Disney’s Cinderella is based on). After Perrault's “Cinderella,” the Brothers Grimm wrote a version in German.
Using these Cinderella stories, you and your students will create Comparison Charts, Venn Diagrams, T-charts, and Webs that show the similarities with and differences between the Cinderella stories in order to gain a deeper understanding of each book.
#3 Questioning Strategy Lesson
One higher-level thinking skill that all our students need is the skill of generating questions while reading, listening, or viewing. The ability to ask mental or verbal questions spurs their critical thinking and analytical responses.
It’s also important that students can differentiate between a “thin question,” where only one answer is correct, because the answer is directly stated in the text, versus a “thick question,” where several answers can be correct, because it is asking for an opinion that is supported with text evidence. The “thick questions” give more students an opportunity to participate in discussion, which should lead to a deeper understanding of the text.
Use a four-day lesson plan to help students in Grades 3 and 4 learn or review the strategy of questioning using multiple texts.
#4 Activating Prior Knowledge Strategy Lesson
Good readers constantly try to make sense out of what they read by seeing how it fits with what they already know.
Activating prior knowledge is an important reading strategy that empowers students to be able to independently comprehend a text. It also serves as a confidence booster for those struggling students that typically give up before even trying.
Use a four-day lesson plan to help students learn or review the strategy of activating prior knowledge using multiple texts.
#5 Point of View Strategy Lesson
The point of view is the manner in which a story is told. A novel’s point of view is the narrator’s perspective. It directs how the story will unfold and influences the tone of the book. In order to fully understand a book, students must be able to identify the narrator’s point of view.
Use a four-day lesson plan to help students learn or review point of view. With this lesson plan, students will compare and contrast firsthand and secondhand accounts of Ruby Bridges’ experiences as the first African American to attend what was once an all-white school.
Bonus: Download a Point of View Overview Mini-Unit that will assist you in exploring each type of point of view in your classroom! This mini-unit is written as six lessons, but depending on the level and ability of your students you may want to spend several days working on each type of point of view.
#6 CSI– Color, Symbol, Image Thinking Routine
The purpose of the CSI routine is to have students express understanding in a nonverbal way. The goal of CSI routine is to have students creatively show understanding and think about the text in a different way.
CSI is my favorite and most frequently used “thinking routine.” As a literacy specialist, I regularly use the CSI routine to analyze characters with my students. CSI is a fun way to encourage students to think more deeply about a character by selecting the color, symbol, and image that best represents the character.
Download the CSI– Color, Symbol, Image Organizer to assist students in identifying the essence of ideas and enhance their comprehension of texts.
#7 Describe a Character Graphic Organizers Bundle
An important literacy skill for students to develop is the ability to describe characters in a story and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events (RL.3.3). With the Describe Characters in a Story Graphic Organizers students will practice character description and analysis. The graphic organizers included in this download are:
Describe a Character Based on the Problem and the Solution Graphic Organizer
Describe a Character Using the Summary of the Book Graphic Organizer
Describe a Character Using Their Actions, Words, and Motives Graphic Organizer
#8 Comprehension Questions for Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
When reading a novel with students, giving them “focus questions” that they need to answer after reading the chapter to check for understanding helps them pay attention to the key elements. Use the seven core comprehension strategies to guide this questioning. Students need to read the “focus question” before reading the chapter, which of course focuses their thinking and encourages active reading. By using the core comprehension strategies as part of these questions it ensures that readers will also be utilizing the core strategies while reading.
Available for download are core comprehension questions based on a long-time favorite novel for both adults and children Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.
Hanging on the door in my classroom is a hand-written poster that I made over 10 years ago. It reads, “Reading Comprehension Strategies will help you → to understand texts more deeply → which will lead to a greater enjoyment and appreciation of reading.”
All of my students are familiar with the reading comprehension strategy poster on my door. At any given moment you can walk into my classroom and ask any of my students for a strategy that they just used while reading and not only will they be able to state a specific strategy, they will also be able to tell you how it helped them to better understand the story. I pride myself on my students’ ability to use reading comprehension strategies, because ultimately what I hope to create is a class full of lifelong readers that truly enjoy reading, and you cannot enjoy what you do not understand. Print it off for your classroom.
Schools need to teach reading comprehension strategies to make students life-long readers.
Using these seven core reading comprehension strategies, and the resources featured, will help students to better understand what they are reading and develop an appreciation for literature in the classroom. Give them a try and let me know how they work for you.