Saturday, January 14, 2012

Strategies For Improving Comprehension

Yesterday I got almost teary-eyed as I worked with students.  They actually got it!  They actually understood how to infer.  There have been days in which I have felt like trying to teach someone how to infer is like trying to hunt for the Loch Ness Monster.  Then there are those other days in which students learn so much that I feel as though I have just won a marathon.  Well yesterday was one of those days.  What helped? Annotating the text.  

Annotating the text is a great way to assist students in applying the reading strategy of determining importance.  In fact, I rank determining importance and making connections as strong areas for focus when it comes to comprehension improvement.

Below I list some useful steps.

Tips for Teaching Kids How to Annotate to Infer
1.  Show kids what details to look when they read different genres. 
a.  When they read fiction stories they should look for details that show what the characters are like as well as any details that show motives for their behavior. Students should use what they know about setting to help them better understand what the character is like.  If the setting is 1700, what types of problems did people have? How did people think at this time?
b.  When reading nonfiction, students should look for repeated ideas and how the author organizes those ideas.  Is it a cause and effect text structure?  Is it a large description?

2.  Often students lack background knowledge about specific topics and are unable to make connections to text.  Having students select books from one particular topic to read is a fantastic way to ensure background knowledge building.
a.  Organize books by topic as well as genre.  Categories of books could include pioneer life, plants, ancient life, animals, rocks and minerals, or even categorize by theme or character traits.  Students will then select a book from the same category to read and respond to for one or two weeks.
b.  Teach thematic units based on social studies and science topics.  Folktales can be easily connected to a unit about maps and geography.  Character traits can be connected to biographies and realistic fiction.

I will be back this weekend with more pics and info to share.


  1. Good for you! That is the best feeling and makes the times you want to bang your head against the wall worth it! :)

  2. so glad they got it! those are the moments we feel good about what we do!!!
    Good for you!

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    Have a great weekend!

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