Improve Reading Comprehension Lessons through Conversation
One of the best things you can do to improve reading comprehension lessons in your classroom is to encourage students to discuss the books they’re reading. It is human nature to want to discuss new information, to talk about new understandings and sort out misconceptions. That’s why one of the most important things you can do to improve the reading comprehension lessons in your classroom is to cultivate a community based on the ability to discuss text.
One way to begin building a classroom community based on text is to model how to have conversations about books and reading. You might model how to have conversations during a whole-group mini lesson. For example, try introducing a book like Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon during your next reading comprehension lessons. Next initiate a conversation using the prompts below. Encourage students to turn and talk with one another about the text. Invite students to share their thoughts. Then continue to read the book, pausing to initiate conversation based on the “During Reading” prompts. Last, support students as they reflect on the text using the prompts under “After Reading.”
Once your students build confidence talking intelligently about the books and the reading comprehension lessons that they enjoy, you will find that your class discussions are much more powerful than traditional worksheets and other reading comprehension lessons.
It is important for readers to do some thinking before they begin to read. By thinking about the book, readers activate their prior knowledge and prepare their brain to understand the text. Instead of giving students a traditional worksheet or activity to activate prior knowledge, try using the following prompts to build communication skills while tapping into their schema:
- Read the title and look at the front cover.
- Discuss what the book might be about
- Read the blurb on the back of the book or on the inside flap of the book jacket.
- Discuss what you already know about the topic of the story.
- What do you think you will learn from reading this book?
- What are you wondering about the book
It is important for readers to stop while reading to check their understanding. By asking themselves some of the following questions while reading, readers are able to decide whether or not they are understanding what they read. If a reader has a hard time answering these questions, they go back and reread or decide that the book is too challenging and choose a just right book instead.
- Stop to predict what will happen next
- Stop to discuss how a character feels
- Stop to discuss how you might solve the problem
- Stop to discuss the connections you made to yourself and your experiences(text – to – self), the connections you made to another book (text – to – text), and the connections you made to the world (text – to – world)
It is important for readers to do some thinking upon finishing a book. This helps the reader to think about the book and choose the information that is most important to remember.
Retell: Ask your studetns to start at the beginning and tell you what happened in the story. IF the text is informational, ask the studetns to share some of the things he/she or she learned while reading.
- Discuss what you liked about the book.
- Discuss the problem and solution.
- Describe the setting.
- Describe how you might have solved the problem differently.
- Discuss how the character must have felt when ___________ happened
- Make connections to yourself and your experiences, another book, or the world
- Discuss the author’s message. Why do you think the author wrote this book? What did the author want to make you think about?
By consistently employing these methods you will create great reading comprehension lessons, and help your students develop into better readers.