5 Reading Comprehension Strategies

› Comprehension

Actively teaching reading comprehension strategies is a not an easy task.  These five activities take students deeper into Bloom's Taxonomy as part of a balanced literacy program.

These activities also support teaching fluency in reading.  Fluency isn't just about being able to sound out the words:  it is about prosody and comprehension too.

The lessons can be taught at any grade level, although you will have to differentiate them to meet your standards.  The key is to repeat the lessons multiple times in a variety of ways, as we know it can take up to 28 exposures to new material before students internalize it and develop meta-cognition.

Here are five more activities to add to your toolbox .  If you missed the first page, go back to Reading Comprehension Activities Part 1 then come back for more!

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Written Response

Allowing children to generate authentic, meaningful responses to literature is one of the most powerful reading comprehension activities. You must first teach them how to respond to literature through oral responses, guided writing and modeled responses.

  • Write About Your Favorite Part: This is the simplest type of response for beginning readers and those who struggle with comprehension.
  • Text to Self Connection: Has anything like this ever happened to you? Can you relate to the main character?
  • Text to Text Connection: What other books have you read that this reminds you of?
  • Text to World Connection: What do you know about that this text reminds you of?
  • Compare the Main Character to Yourself: How are you and the main character alike and different?
  • Retell the Text: Write a retelling of the important events in the book, including key story elements.

The worksheets that go with these activities can be found at the Primary Teaching Resources page.

Punctuation Awareness

The power of punctuation is an underused method for reading comprehension exercises as well as reading fluency activities. Punctuation is there for a reason: to increase understanding of a text.

It aids the fluency with which a text is read, and thereby helps the reader make meaning.

  • Comma = pause
  • Period or Full Stop = longer pause and the end of a complete thought
  • Question Mark = raise the pitch of the voice at the end of the sentence
  • Exclamation Mark = raise the volume of the voice at the end of the sentence
  • Bold Words = emphasis needed

By understanding how to use punctuation marks in oral reading of a text, children will begin to use those same strategies when they are reading to themselves. A period can signal a student to pause and if the student is aware that he or she did not understand what was just read, now is the time to go back and reread to make meaning.

To demonstrate how we naturally pause at punctuation marks, you will need to scoop the text with them and re-read passages many times to ensure students solidify this strategy.

Wordless Books

These amazing little books contain no words, and they are a wonderful tool to use for reading comprehension activities. The story is told completely in sequential pictures. Wordless books are "read" by inferencing what is happening in the pictures and using imagination to craft a story. Not only good for emergent readers - these books open a new avenue of comprehension for all students. 

I use wordless books as read alouds, to teach story elements and how to write a story. As I "read" the book to the class, I use the pictures to develop the plot through guided writing.

Frog Goes to Dinner by Mercer Mayer

This was the first wordless book I used to write a story with for my class. We had a ball.

The humor in the illustrations is evident, and we gave a voice to the characters, developed a problem and solution.  After writing it, I typed it and placed it in our Author's Box for the children to re-read.

Their comprehension of the story elements soared, and was most evident when I placed more wordless books out for them to "read" with a buddy.

Book Treasures

Book Treasures is a way to connect families to their child's reading. You will love this. It also works on the critical reading skills of summarizing and retelling. 

This reading strategy is simple, yet powerful. For pre-determined read alouds, a "treasure" is sent home with each student as a visual and kinesthetic reminder of the story. The students have to use the treasure to tell a parent or guardian about the book.

Their thoughts are recorded on a half-sheet of paper and brought back to school while the treasure stays at home (I always have my students make a Treasure Box to kick off these reading activities and to keep their treasures in).

At the end of the year, I put all of their responses together into a booklet for each student, we bring our treasure boxes in, and spend an afternoon retelling our stories we listened to throughout the year.

Treasures can be as simple as a cotton ball for Eric Carle's "Little Cloud" book.  They can be a piece of spaghetti for "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs." You are only limited by your imagination.

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Motivation to Read

It's the classic Matthew Effect:  students who read more have better fluency and comprehension.

Children learning to read must be immersed into many types of books on a daily basis, and we cannot expect all of that to be done at home.  

But even if we make the time available in the classroom, what can we do about our students who simply don't enjoy reading?

Make it fun!  I came up with a super simple solution to this problem in my classroom, and I was amazed by how well it works.  It cost me nothing but a bit of time, but the benefits are outstanding. 

Other teachers have also reported it as being super effective at motivating their students to read!

Click on the image to find out more - if you don't motivate them, who will?

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