Reading, as we know, is not just the ability to combine letters into words; it includes the ability to understand the meaning of those words and the meaning of the ideas expressed in those words. In addition to basic decoding skills, reading comprehension requires background knowledge -- a framework on which to add new information -- and the ability to concentrate what one is reading. Reading comprehension, like phonemic awareness, decoding, and fluency, can be taught. Here are some ideas for keeping students involved in what they are reading, helping them improve their concentration and reading comprehension.
Create a KWL Chart
Help students focus on what they read by creating a KWL Chart. Before reading a selection, brainstorm with students everything they already know about the topic. Then help them make a list of what they want to learn about the topic from their reading. After they've read the selection, ask students to fill in what they did learn.
A Preview of Things to Come
Have students preview their reading selections before they actually begin reading. To preview a selection, students should:
Give the Order
Make a copy of several paragraphs of the reading selection (or, for younger students, of one paragraph of the selection), and cut into sentences. Arrange students into groups, the size of each group corresponding to the number of sentences in the selected paragraphs. Distribute one sentence to each student. Challenge groups to put their sentences in the correct order, and then invite each student to read his or her sentence aloud - in the correct order.
Look into the Future
To help students become active readers, teach them prediction strategies. As students are reading, stop occasionally and ask a student to predict what might happen next.
What Does it Mean?
Stop occasionally during the reading process and ask a student to identify the most important word in the paragraph being read. Ask the student to provide three reasons for his or her choice.