11 Tools to improve Reading Comprehension
Good readers employ strategies before, during, and after reading that help them comprehend text. As I mentioned in my last post “Causes of reading comprehension difficulties,” struggling readers do not understand why they have difficulty comprehending.
There is however, no definitive set of strategies for remediation of reading comprehension difficulties and identification of where comprehension is breaking down will assist in employing the correct strategy to facilitate Reading Comprehension.
In addition to employing reading comprehension strategies, it is important to implement the following:
Provide the Right Kind of Books
One of the most important aspects of facilitating Reading Comprehension is reading fluency. A child should be able to recognize at least 90 percent of the words without any help. Stopping any more often than that to try and decode a word makes it difficult to focus on the overall meaning of the story.
Reading activities can be divided into three categories, depending on when they take place:
A. Pre-Reading Strategies
i. SIGHT WORDS:
Improve Sight Word Vocabulary and consequently, Reading Comprehension
ii. ENRICHMENT & VOCABULARY:
The child is engaged in enrichment activities prior to reading the passage. In this way, students have the opportunity to activate and enhance existing knowledge before reading. Pre-teaching vocabulary words will also enhance comprehension.
iii. STORY GRAMMAR TRAINING :
From a very young age, most children are exposed to story books. These fictional texts (narratives) share a common, predictable structure called story grammar. This predictable structure enhances students’ comprehension whether they listen to the narrative or read it themselves. Improve Reading Comprehension by providing a framework for learning and remembering information.
Teaching story grammar structure emphasizes the importance of metacognitive or active reading strategies to improve comprehension. It directs students’ attention on story structure by teaching them to ask five “wh” questions about the settings and episodes of the story.
iv. PREVIEW COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS:
Encourage the child to preview comprehension questions. This will allow the child to focus on answering those questions as they read.
i. REREAD TO BUILD FLUENCY
By the end of Grade two a child should be able to read approximately 90 words a minute. Rereading familiar, simple books gives your child practice at decoding words quickly and facilitates fluency. The optimal number of readings has been found to be four.
ii. GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS
Graphic organizers, which provide a visual map for the reader, can be placed next to the text as learners read in groups or individually, aloud or silently. They are particularly useful in helping readers to understand the structure of a narrative or of an argument.
Graphic organizers also assist in encouraging visualization of information which also assists with comprehension.
Links to a variety of free graphic organizers can be found here: http://www.dailyteachingtools.com/free-graphic-organizers-w.html
iii. K-W-L STRATEGY
The K-W-L strategy stands for what I Know, what I Want to learn, and what I did Learn. By activating students’ background knowledge, it improves comprehension of expository text. (Expository text refers to writing where the purpose is to inform, describe, explain, or define the author’s subject to the reader)
iv. QUESTION-ANSWER RELATIONSHIPS
Increase correct answers to reading comprehension questions by considering both the text and the background knowledge. The question-answer relationships strategy helps students label the type of questions that are asked and to use this information to develop their answers.
“Right There” Label:
Words used to create the question and words used for the answer are Right There in the same sentence.
“Think and Search” Label:
The answer is in the text, but words used to create the question and those used for an appropriate answer would not be in the same sentence. They come from different parts of the text.
“On My Own” Label:
The answer is not found in the text. You can even answer the question without reading the text by using your own experience
Based on the questions, it is important to encourage the child to think about what they know and make predictions based on what they know and what they have read.
v. GENERATING QUESTIONS:
By generating questions, students become aware of whether they can answer the questions and if they understand what they are reading. Students learn to ask themselves questions that require them to combine information from different segments of text. For example, students can be taught to ask main idea questions that relate to important information in a text.
C. Post Reading
i. STORY RETELLING
Improve Reading Comprehension by retelling a story to partners, using outlines. By retelling students relate information from the story to their own experiences. In this way, they improve their reading comprehension and memory of story information.
ii. PARAPHRASING AND/OR SUMMARIZING
Summarizing requires students to determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words. Instruction in summarizing helps students:
- Identify or generate main ideas
- Connect the main or central ideas
- Eliminate unnecessary information
- Remember what they have read
Poor comprehenders do not necessarily have a comprehension impairment that is specific to reading. Rather, their difficulties with reading comprehension need to be seen in the context of difficulties with language comprehension more generally
Explicit teaching of comprehension strategies can be an effective intervention for these difficulties and impact significantly on later academic success.