Strategies for Teaching Comprehension

As if teaching the basics of reading is not enough, you are responsible for teaching the most important skill of reading… comprehension.  So your students can read.  GREAT! But, if they can’t understand what they read… Huston, we have a problem.  I always wondered when I would see posts that say, “If you can read this, thank a teacher” how many people can’t read it?  How many can read it, but still don’t understand what it means?  While looking at ways to improve your literacy instruction, try these 5 strategies to improve reading comprehension.

  1.  Activate Prior Knowledge
  2.  Questioning
  3. Analyzing Text Stucture
  4. Visualization
  5. Summarizing

When you use these five strategies, students will begin to comprehend naturally.  Activating prior knowledge is one of my favorite ways to engage students in reading.  Research has shown that comprehension improves when students are engaged.  What better way to engage students than to bridge their old knowledge with new knowledge? For example, if we are going to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, I might ask students to share stories of when they saw a caterpillar or when they felt really hungry.  You will notice that when one student shares a story, they usually all do.  That should not irritate you.  When students are all wanting to share their prior knowledge, YOU GOT THEM!

Of course improving vocabulary skills, fluency, phonics and phonemic awareness are ALL pieces to the puzzle when it comes to comprehension.  Teaching reading can be complex with all the skills needed to be competent readers. Using the five strategies suggested is a great way to ensure students are comprehending what they read.

Narrative, History, Dream, Tell, Fairy Tales, Book

Here are some free reading passages with questions for you to enjoy.