Comprehension Strategies for Active Learning


It's Monday, and if your Monday's are like mine, you are probably trying to get everything off in the right direction for the week.  You've spent most of yesterday planning and preparing for your students, and tonight, you'll be checking through your plans to make sure each T is crossed and each I is dotted.   This is the typical routine for me and the majority of my teacher friends, and I hope today's post will provide you with a few ideas/freebies you can work into your plans next week.
Looking for a few fun comprehension strategies you can use with any text? Check out this post for 3 great FREEBIES you can print and use.

In this post, we'll be looking at a few of my favorite comprehension strategies. I'll share with you why I enjoy using them and how they help my kiddos. From my experience, how you structure your reading plan makes a difference. Many of our kiddos struggle with comprehension because they focus on figuring out the words instead of meaning. So let's take a look at how these strategies might keep your kiddos engaged and connected to the text.

So, I am Carla from Comprehension Connection,  Over the past few months, several of us have participated in a few of the Facebook Frenzy collaborative events. We've all chatted and I got to thinking that joining together with other literacy coaches and specialists would be a great way to learn and share our experiences with other reading specialists.  I reached out and we formed our group, The Reading Crew.  It has been so wonderful trading ideas and growing professionally together, and as a group, we decided to explore blogging collaboratively and that's how Adventures in Literacy Land got started.

Now for a little background on my experience teaching...  
I am a reading specialist from Virginia in my 23rd year of teaching.  I have worked in grades 1, 4, and 5 (regular classroom), as a technology specialist, and most recently as a reading specialist/literacy coach (since 1998).  When I began as a reading specialist, I decided early on that one of my goals was to reach out to other teachers, encourage and support them in the area of reading like my reading specialist did for me when I first began (and because of her, I returned for a Masters in Reading). I enjoy working to build and organize resources to make planning more efficient and effective, and make my classroom the home for struggling readers. They need nurturing, print-rich environments and yet, they need high expectations.  I still work very hard at this as collaboration makes us all better, and I hope that each of you will not be afraid to ask for help (even if you've taught 35 years). We can all learn new ways to do things.

Today, I thought I'd respond to the need for comprehension strategies.  Comprehension is thinking about reading, correct? Many students do not see this though. They focus heavily on how they sound (fluency), but do not think as they read.  In my experience, word callers develop because during reading strategies are not utilized.  Each book I teach is done in the before, during, after model. Before reading, I build schema, introduce Tier 2 vocabulary, and model the focus skill. (I do).  During reading, students read and record information to practice the focus skill (usually with a graphic organizer, foldable, selective highlighting/notetaking in the margins, or on sticky notes (We do it together with gradual release of responsibility). After reading is independent work time where students complete a written response, summarizer, or respond to questions. (You do)

The first strategy I thought I'd share works well for making predictions and is used before reading and after reading with fiction. Students are actively involved throughout the strategy process and find it "fun". It hits the higher levels of Blooms Taxonomy because students analyze the clues they're given.
1.  To begin, students are given a list of preselected words from the story. Prior to the lesson time, carefully choose key words from the text and list them in the order they occur within the text.  This can be done using [THIS ORGANIZER] but can also be placed on a Smartboard or chalkboard to stimulate group discussion.  
2. Students read the list of words and write a prediction statement using the words in the order presented.  (Again, this can be done individually or collaboratively in pairs or small groups.)  
3.  After the prediction statement is complete, students read the assigned materials, checking their prediction statement as they read. (I have mine cross through incorrect events.)  
4.  After the reading is completed, students write a summary telling what really happened (which can be done in the same manner as you did before reading).

Another strategy I find effective to building schema for both reading and writing lessons are Word Splashes. Students can work individually, in pairs, or small groups to brainstorm words related to the topic to be studied.  Word Splashes work well with nonfiction topics and fictional themes before, during, and after reading as new vocabulary is acquired.  The beauty of the Word Splash is that the word list developed can be utilized with post reading writing assignments.  Students can adjust the size of words to indicate their level of importance to the topic too.  The Word Splash form I am sharing today can be used with any book.  All you have to do is have your students add the topic to the middle of the box. [HERE] is the link to the freebie.

In addition to these two strategies, another favorite of mine is SQ3R.  This one has been around a long time, but I am not sure how many teachers use it.  The process follows the abbreviation, so students can quickly pick up on what to do.  First, the student surveys the text and takes notice of headings and subheadings, pictures and captions, sidebars and diagrams, and any other text features included in the reading material. Next, the student creates questions utilizing the information observed in the survey. It is advised that students turn headings/subheadings into questions for the sections that follow.  The third and fourth steps are to read the material and respond (I have revised the second R to be *respond* instead of what I originally learned *recite*).  If you'd like to give this one a try, [HERE] is an organizer you can use to step your students through the process.



Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

25 comments

  1. Hi Carla. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and the template too.

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  2. Thanks Carla for the great information. I have used Word Splashes before but I create the words on a page and the students (in pairs or whole class) make connections between the words. It's a way to retell a story and review vocabulary at the same time. I have not used SQ3R...I'll give it a try. Thanks for the freebies. They will be put to good use.

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    1. I like that version too. I'm sure it's great to see their thinking on how the words are connected. I'll have to give that a try.

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  3. Thank you so much! Can't wait to use these with my children!

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  4. When I try to click on the templates or documents it tells me that I am not authorized to see them.....:( Ideas you gave are wonderful. Would love to see the freebies. :)

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    1. Hmm... very strange. All were set to public. I'll double check. Please check back shortly.

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    2. I double checked, and all links were set to public. Downloading should work without a problem (at least from my end). If you're trying from school, it might be something with your network?? Try again and see. It doesn't appear that others have had trouble. I'll have the rest of the team check to be sure.

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    3. Just letting you both know that I didn't have a problem downloading them, if you click on the hyperlinks in Carla's post - get post Carla - I have been a fan of your comprehension work for some time now :) Kylie

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  5. What a great post! Thanks for reminding me about SQ3R. I used to use that all the time, but I've slipped away from it recently. It works so well with nonfiction text. :)

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    1. Wendy...and other readers...here is another link you might find helpful for SQ3R. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/SQ3R-A-Strategy-For-Text-449310

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  6. Thanks for the freebies. I have always loved the story impression. We do it whole group in first grade still at this point...maybe soon they can give it a try on their own.

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    1. I loved it when we learned about it during my diagnosis/remediation class. Our instructor used it with the book, Yellow Star. I did not mention it, but it needs to be a book that no one is familiar with.

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  7. These look like so much fun. I can't wait to use them with my class. We just relearned, as staff, about SQ3R so I am happy to find something to use with my kiddos.

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    1. K-check the link I shared above. The Teaching Reef has a nice collection of SQ3R materials for free on TPTs.

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  8. Carla, this was a great post. Reminded me of things I learned about in my Masters Reading Program which I have not used. I would love if you shared some completed student samples on your blog.
    Sebrina

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  9. Carla, this was a great post. Reminded me of things I learned about in my Masters Reading Program which I have not used. I would love if you shared some completed student samples on your blog.
    Sebrina

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  10. Carla, this was a great post. Reminded me of things I learned about in my Masters Reading Program which I have not used. I would love if you shared some completed student samples on your blog.
    Sebrina

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  11. I love the idea of predicting through a list of words. Thank you for sharing such great ideas! I can't wait to revamp my lesson plans.

    Marcy
    Searching for Teacher Balance

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    1. Thank you Marcy! Glad you like the story impressions activity. I have enjoyed it for making predictions.

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  12. thanks for these great freebies and good strategies to use...I'm going to walk my higher reading group through some of these for my first graders.

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