Reading comprehension is one of the most important skills a student will learn in school. It can also be one of the most difficult. A Teacher’s superpower is taking a complicated skill and breaking it down to teach more effectively. We’ll walk you through the essential reading comprehension strategies and give you ideas on incorporating reading comprehension practice in a digital format in your classroom. Try out TeacherMade for free today.
Reading comprehension means that readers can extract meaning from what they read. It is a multilayered process that involves an active reading strategy and many different plans of attack. Reading comprehension requires engagement before, during, and after reading takes place. Long-time readers often underestimate the number of skills that go into affecting reading comprehension. We’ve broken down some general reading comprehension strategies that you can work on in your classroom.
When you read a book, you often look over the cover and glean the book topic. Pictures, title, and the book blurb can tell you a lot about the book. It’s not just to gauge your interest in the book, but you are activating what you already know about the book. Your students can be taught to do this with some prompting. Take time to model questions about the cover art, title, and even parts of the book with a quick skim.
Take the prior knowledge practice a step further with predicting. Predicting is taking the inventory of prior knowledge and making predictions of what will happen in the text. As reading occurs, students will learn to alter their expectations and predictions. Predicting is the first step in identifying patterns which will later help students identify more complex reading in the text.
Questioning while reading is a key to assembling key details and facts while reading. Seasoned readers do this constantly while reading, but students have to be taught this skill. Teachers can do this by asking students questions before, during, and after reading. Modeling good questions for students will get students in the habit of developing their questions while reading.
Often people confuse summarizing with reading comprehension. Summarizing simply is identifying the main ideas of a passage. Reader actively sorting through the information and classifying it as essential and non-essential to determine the main idea. This is a critical skill for reading comprehension but isn’t the only skill. Summarizing leads to readers understanding the ultimate purpose of the text and deeper themes within the reading.
Facts are not always explicitly written in texts. That’s why making inferences are so essential for reading comprehension. Students combine drawing from prior knowledge, questioning, predicting, and summarizing to make inferences. For this reason, making inferences is a higher-order skill because it is the culmination of so many reading comprehension strategies.
Vivid mental pictures lead to better memory and recall of texts. If your students can form mental images in their minds, they will absorb more knowledge from texts.
Content vocabulary helps students comprehend texts in the different content areas. Vocabulary can be built over time with practice. Theresa D. loves using TeacherMade for vocabulary practice in her environmental science class. She puts five vocabulary-based questions into her bell work each day. She explains: “Use the drop-down or matching option for the students. This keeps the vocabulary fresh in the minds of students and can be used to introduce the new vocabulary for that days’ lesson.”
Often timing practice can be helpful when trying to practice quick skills, such as reading fluency. Fifth-grade Teacher Katy M. loves it for reading and math drills. She describes the reason TeacherMade is ideal for these activities, “I like using TeacherMade because they can quickly complete it, time themselves, and write the time they finish. TeacherMade can also grade them for me so I can see their accuracy without even having to open the document.”
Mindmaps help students make predictions before reading. It’s also an excellent way to fill in the blanks on a story’s basics like setting, time period, and main characters. Teacher Samantha F. uses a blank template that she already has for each new story. She uploads it to TeacherMade, and students have options on how to complete it. “They can draw their answers or doodle a mindmap with the pens. They can also type their responses or show what they know by recording their responses with the mic.” says Samantha.
Madlibs are a simple way to practice grammar and critical components of a story. You can even use a Madlib that already exists. Simply upload the image or PDF into TeacherMade. Fifth-grade Teacher Katy M. loves using them to review parts of speech. She says that it’s a fun take on reading comprehension because students “really enjoy sharing them with their classmates when they are done.”
Fifth-grade Teacher Katy M. also uses them for reading annotations. Annotating helps students become more active readers and allows them to practice the essential reading comprehension strategies. She explains how she incorporates reading annotation in her classroom using TeacherMade:
“I upload a Reading Passage from a workbook and have my students read and annotate the passage. They love using the highlighter tool! When they are done, they complete the multiple-choice problems that follow.”
Background knowledge can be complex when students come to the table with less life experience than more seasoned readers. Heather B. embed videos into her digital worksheets using TeacherMade:
Students will view the short video that reviews the subject. If they have headphones, they can watch right at their desks. After the video, students will have five-seven questions to answer. The students will imitate you by using the same strategies presented in the video. So, you presented a short passage. Students could use that same passage to determine another clue or text evidence.
Reading comprehension practice needs to come with an assessment to check on progress. TeacherMade can help. Not only does TeacherMade make it easy to make online worksheets for reading comprehension, but our app makes it simple to complete digital grading. Our self-grading feature makes it a breeze to assess student learning.