Many moons ago, I was a special education teacher, I quickly noticed that reading comprehension was a major problem with my students. Many of them had reading disabilities that made it harder to learn to read. Even after they learned to read, it made it difficult for them to comprehend what they read.
After spending hours working with them in the classroom and in the resource room, I found out the problem. Sure these students had major learning difficulties, but the main issue was that their reading teachers were teaching reading the wrong way. They were essentially engaging in logical fallacies.
Once I came up with a better way, their grades soared. Once their reading teachers saw the leap in academic performance, they wanted to know my secret. Never one to keep the knowledge to myself, I led many professional development sessions on teaching reading comprehension.
I decided to write an article that disseminated this know, and if you keep reading, you will find out my secrets.
How Do You Teach Comprehension?
Teaching comprehension is a complex process that requires planning. This skill places the responsibility on the student to take control over their understanding of a given text. The seven strategies listed below are some suggestions that are backed by research.
Experts suggest that these strategies be explicitly taught to students through the following steps: (1) direct explanation, (2) teacher modeling, (3) guided practice, and (4) application. These steps are effective through cooperative learning, in which students work in small groups or pairs to accomplish a given task. Meanwhile, teachers facilitate this process by modeling comprehension strategies and providing assistance to the students.
- Monitoring comprehension – this is when a student can understand when they understand a text or not and deploy strategies aimed at addressing the comprehension concerns.
- Metacognition – also known as thinking about thinking; this strategy is used when readers can think about and prepare for reading. They know the reason why they are reading, use methods that help them read fast while understanding information being said in the text. Some may even quiz themselves to check if they understood what they read.
- ummarizing – this is when readers can pick up on the main idea of a text and say it in their own words.
- Asking questions – this has to do with readers who formulate questions drawn from specific parts and elements of the text—not just asking fact-based questions like “who are the main characters?” “where do they live?” and “how many main characters are there?”.
- Answering questions – in this process, readers are trained to focus on the text to remember and understand details that they may be asked about.
- Graphic organizers – also known as maps, graphs, charts, clusters, and frames. These are used to focus on and connect certain concepts within the text. Mind maps are a good example of a graphic organizer.
- Structure recognition – in this strategy, readers pick out the important elements of a text. The elements would be the characters, setting, events, conflict, and resolution in a short story.
How to teach reading is a hotly debated topic. But if you use these strategies, your students reading grades will increase in no time.
Students can be taught skills on how to check for understanding a text. Students do not always have to rely on teachers and tutors to give them quizzes and assessments and use this as prompts to look into the important details of a text. When a student is reading independently for their own pleasure, they can deploy any of the strategies stated above to check if they understood what they read
In this article, we have given you several strategies for teaching reading comprehension. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section below. We will respond to you as soon as we can.