We all know the importance of making sure our students are comprehending what they are reading, but why does it seem so difficult sometimes? With first graders, so much focus is put on “learning to read” at the beginning of the year. As the year progresses and students become more fluent readers, the shift needs to move from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Many components need to go into creating this shift in reading. So, how can we make sure that our students are comprehending what they are reading?
I’m starting a new series on the blog over the next couple of weeks focusing on reading comprehension. I am hoping to share some strategies that can be implemented right away into your classrooms to help your students increase their comprehension skills. Today, we are discussing the importance of listening comprehension.
Sometimes, we forget the power of the read aloud when talking about comprehension practice. This is especially important for students that are not yet readers. If you have your own children, think about all of times that you have read stories to them. Even the simple color and number books you read to toddlers. You look closely at the pictures. You talk about the colors. You count the objects. Most likely, you make the noises that the trucks or the animals are making. That is all comprehension practice. School aged children still need this practice. When you read books aloud to your class, really engage them in the story and make sure they are comprehending what you are reading to them. It is so important that your students are active listeners during read alouds.
- Preview the book prior to reading. Make predictions based on the title and cover.
- Take talk breaks during a book to explain your thinking or review what might be happening in the story.
- Revisit parts that may be confusing or pages that you feel might need more explanation.
- Discuss unknown vocabulary in the book.
- Ask comprehension questions after reading the book. Talk about the characters, the problem and solution, and their thoughts about the book.
Strategies for Listening Comprehension
- Use Listening Centers. I always purchase the book and CD Listening Centers from the Scholastic Book Orders each month. Then, I use my bonus points to get a couple of additional books to go along with each CD. Have students complete an activity after the story to work on their comprehension skills. You can download a FREE Listening Center Response Sheet HERE.
- Prepare comprehension questions or talking points prior to reading. I like to write discussion questions on Post-It notes and put them inside the front cover of my books that I’m reading aloud to students. The majority of the time, I can remember what discussion points I want to hit, but let’s be honest, we have a million things going on in our heads at any given moment. The Post-It notes allow me to pick up a book and be able to very quickly know what I want to discuss, so I don’t overlook a particular skill.
- Have comprehension practice ready for any book. Preparing discussion questions and comprehension skills for every single read aloud you do in your classroom would be very time consuming and overwhelming. It is perfectly fine to have general comprehension discussion points ready for any book. I know that plenty of times, I have received a new book from a Scholastic Book order or from Amazon, and I just have to read it aloud right away. For these times, I like to have ways to get the students involved in the story. I bought these pinwheels from Dollar Tree a couple of years ago. They make wonderful Comprehension Wheels. I just wrote with a Sharpie on each petal. After we read a book together, I spin the pinwheel and grab a petal to see which question we will answer. It’s an easy way to add some novelty to a lesson. These Comprehension Question Cards are also a great way to have a quick discussion about a book. After printing them, I laminate the cards and place them on a metal ring. These are easy to pull out during read alouds to make sure that I am asking a variety of comprehension questions. I also like to keep a set at my reading table to use with my small groups. You can click on the picture below to check these out.
Remember that Listening Comprehension strategies need to be used before reading, during reading, and after reading. We need to look at the entire picture.
The ability to comprehend a text can make or break a student’s reading success. These are strategies that we need to work on over and over again throughout the school day. We really need to make sure that we are not overlooking the power of building listening comprehension with our students. I hope you continue to join me as I discuss more comprehension strategies and skills in the next couple of weeks. Feel free to pin the image below or any of the images above to remember this blog post for future reference.