The teaching of reading is of the utmost importance in the primary grades. Not only do students need to be able to decode words and develop fluency, but it is even more important that they are understanding what they read. This is the stage in which a child moves from learning to read to reading to learn. It is my goal this year to teach my students strategies to help them comprehend what they are reading.
We have focused so far this year on 3 main strategies:
Making text-to-self conections and text-to-text connections while reading helps students to internalize the story and relate to the characters or the problem. Students are encouraged to use sticky notes to make sure that they are consciously making connections as they read.
When we summarize information we pull out the most important information and put it in our own words to remember it. We have been using a "Sum It Up" graphic organizer to keep words to a minimum deleting unecessary information. We will add "Alphaboxes" to our "toolbox" that can be used with several of the comprehension strategies.
When we visualize while reading, we create pictures in our minds. Visualizing helps us to relate to the characters in a text. We imagine what they look like and how they act. When children hear a well written text, they can mix the author's words with their own ideas to create a visual image. The child adds his/her own experiences to the words above to create a picture of the event. Children can describe these visual images or draw a picture to illustrate the images.
When we first began practicing the strategy, students drew a picture about what they were visualizing when I was reading. We call our visualizations "Mental Images or Motion Pictures in our Minds."
Good readers constantly ask questions before, during, and after reading. Questioning provides a purpose for reading and keeps the reader engaged in the text. It propels the reader forward to search for answers to their questions. Questions are answered in different ways: in the text, from prior knowledge, inferences, and further research. There are also some questions that are not answered.