Comprehension Toolbox (For Teachers and Readers)
Readers need a toolbox full of tools for them to use to enable them to understand whatever they read (assigned or not) to the best of their ability. That's where the teachers come in - it's our job to show them these tools so that they can be successful in their other classes, apply these principles to their higher education pursuits, be good Bereans as they read their Bible, learn well at whatever job they undertake, or simply share what they learn with others.
A simple procedure for teachers to follow:
Students listen. (Teacher read.)
Read together. (We read.)
Syntax Surgery is a strategy explained by Kylene Beers in her book ties below to promote that reading is thinking.)
Discuss & Respond together.
Activities to promote the fact that reading is thinking:
Syntax Surgery is a strategy explained by Kylene Beers in her book When Kids Can't Read What Teachers Can Do. It's a visual representation of what you're thinking. According to Beer's experience, she explains that it is most helpful to show how nouns are related to pronouns, to find synonyms, transition words, identifying unknown words and using context clues to define them and to make inferences. When you use this highly effective strategy you're displaying the text in a place where all your students can see it (transparency, smartboard, etc.) and then marking it up as you think out loud.
The Sticky-Note Strategy is one I used quite often. I gave them four different colors and every time a portion of the text taught them something new they'd pick one of the colors and write a brief response, marking that spot. We did the same for exciting text, unknown/questions, connects, etc.
Text Talk is another one of Beer's strategies that I've adapted as my own using task cards that help students find specific text that relates to their card: "Read Aloud the Text that..." but if you're wanting students to work together or you're wanting your reader to talk to you about the text a good place to start is with sentence starters. If you want them to predict give them a way to start the sentence (i.e. I predict that...)
Retelling Rubric changes as students mature in their reading. For a beginning reader, I provide a visual representation of the four things I look for in a summary: characters, setting, problems, and how those problems were solved. See what I use here.
It Says - I Say - And So is an awesome strategy to guide students as they look at the text, think about what they know about the text, what they think about the text and reaching a conclusion based on those findings.
There are many strategies to implement for struggling or beginning readers. There are a variety to implement because what works for one student may not work for another. The biggest thing we can do as teachers is to know what our students need, what they like, and what motivates them.
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