Use of a variety of reading materials to improve reading comprehension.
Children begin their education learning to read, but soon transition to reading to learn. This stage requires the ability to comprehend what is being read. Educational researchers have spent years developing strategies to improve reading comprehension. These strategies should be used throughout the reading process.
1. Preview a text by having students make predictions as to what a story might be about. They do this by analyzing the book’s cover, title and illustrations. Write the predictions on a piece of chart paper so that students can revisit the predictions after reading the book.
2. Make connections to everyday experiences by asking students to share things that occur in their own lives that relate to the story they are reading. During this activity, students can complete a Venn diagram or other graphic organizer that will allow them to compare and contrast specific details from the story.
3. Instruct students to stop reading periodically and then ask them guided questions that will help the students stay focused on the events in the story. For example, “Where does this story take place?” or “What is the main character of the story thinking or feeling?” Students can also initiate questions and share them with their classmates during this time. Have students record their questions on post it notes so that they don’t lose their train of thought while still focusing on the questions that they would like to have answered.
4. Explore unfamiliar words by using such classroom resources as dictionaries, thesauruses or the Internet. Students need to play with words so that they can improve their vocabularies. Word games and opportunities to use newly-acquired words in everyday conversation will help students strengthen their vocabulary.
5. Help students visualize what they are reading by exposing them to stories that are read aloud, recorded, or by allowing them to read age-appropriate chapter books that don’t contain illustrations. Students can form their own version of the setting and characters in their minds. After reading a section or chapter of a book, have students create their own illustration and compare them with other students in the class to discuss similarities and differences.