Teaching reading comprehension skills helps students learn how to decode the written word and gives them the skills they need to succeed. The old standby of skipping over an unknown word and trying to figure out the meaning from the context may be an important skill for beginning readers. However, relying too heavily on one technique can be dangerous. The more techniques the child has the better his chances of success.
Provide Background Information
Spend time building background information before you assign reading to your students. It’s easy to assume that children already have experience with the topic, but experiences differ depending on the child’s environment. Discuss the main concept in the story-whether it is how caterpillars transform to butterflies or the rules of baseball, all children benefit from background information before reading the story.
Encourage Students to Predict Events
Learning to predict what may happen next in the story helps children make sense of what they read and forces them pay attention to details. Making predictions and evaluating whether their predictions were accurate, teaches kids that stories are written in logical order and that to understand the story they must pay attention to all the details in the story.
Creating interest in the story goes hand-in-hand with providing background information. Relate the story to real life events, bring in props, or dress as a character in the book to spark interest and gain kids attention.Encourage healthy discussion about the topic prior to reading the book or story.
KWL charts are an excellent way to assess what kids Know (K), what they Want to know (W) and what they Learned (L). Use a classroom KWL chart to introduce the story and work together to fill out what kids Know and what they Want to know. Once the story is completed, work together to fill in what they have Learned. Provide older children with their own KWL charts and challenge them to fill them out as they read.
Summarize and Review
Summarizing and reviewing what has been read provides a reflection of what the student understands and allows you to assess areas that need direct instruction. Break the story down into manageable sections and ask students to write a brief summary after each section.
Each of the reading comprehension techniques can be performed individually or in groups, but should always be introduced with a group activity. Check that all students understand the proper procedure before allowing students to work on their own.
Educator’s Reference Desk. KWL-A Reading Comprehension Strategy
Donald Martin, How to be a Successful Student: How to Improve Reading Comprehension