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Fun Ideas and Comprehension Strategies to Add Spice to Your Reading Lessons
“The more you read, the more things you’ll know
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
So says Dr Seuss, and of course, we agree wholeheartedly with him. It is important to get our children reading and loving it. It is also important for them to understand what they are reading. In this post, we provide some useful ideas and strategies for you as teachers, to use to help those in your care improve their understanding of a reading text. Parents will also find these ideas useful.
Before reading the text
The best place to start is the pre-reading stage.
1) Preview keywords
Preview the key words in the text and decide which you should review before reading takes place. Then, let the learners scan the text to find these words and underline them. A fun way to do this is to introduce a scanning exercise that takes place in a very short time limit, for example 15 seconds, to make it into a game! Demonstrate how to scan before the learners get started. Show the wrong way to do it (for example reading every word one by one), and then show them the quick and effective way where they cast their eyes from left to right and try to remember the important words.
2) Predict content based on clues
After viewing some vocabulary, you could let the learners find the pictures in the story and predict the content of the text based on these visual prompts. Prediction is a well-known reading comprehension strategy. It helps the readers to make connections from the provided clues and make educated guesses about the content. These guesses might not always be correct, but they get the learners thinking. Ask them questions such as: What do you think is the topic of this text? What do you already know about this topic? What do you think will happen in the story based on the clues that you’ve seen?
3) Provide background knowledge
Background knowledge is also a very useful strategy to provide before actual reading takes place. It’s always interesting to know something about the author, or a snippet of interesting information about the time period of the writing. If you are familiar with any background knowledge related to the text, share it with the learners.
There are several activities the leaders can do themselves while they are reading.
1) Read aloud
Let your learners read aloud in pairs or even alone. It’s a great way to practice reading and hear the words being read.
2) Visualise what you are reading
Encourage your learners to visualise what is happening as they read. Visualising makes a text come to life. It is like seeing a movie in your mind. It also helps the learners to remember what they have read because the brain attaches a picture to the written word.
3) Ask yourself questions as you read
Encourage the learners to ask themselves questions as they read such as: What are they saying? What does that word mean? Does that make sense? What will happen next? The learners could also restate difficult sentences in their own words. This process, known as active recall, helps one build and retain comprehension.
4) Draw pictures as you read
Make sure your learners have some paper to work with during reading and encourage them to draw very simple images as they read the text. Physical drawing can help one remember the content.
5) Use graphic organizers
Alternatively, your learners could use graphic organizers during the second reading of the text to help them organize their thoughts. Vary these in reading lessons. Graphic organizer templates can easily be found on the Internet. For example, Venn diagrams can help them compare or contrast information from two sources. A storyboard could help them to sequence the events or list the steps in the text. A cause and effect organizer could help them to illustrate the cause and effects that are supplied in the text.
Most textbooks or worksheets will provide you with questions to use after reading. However, try doing some of the following activities first for added comprehension.
1) Re-read the text
It is important to re-read the text so that one reads the text at least twice. This helps the readers clarify their thoughts and find a solution to any questions that might have arisen in their minds.
2) Summarise the text
Summarising is a great post-reading strategy because it requires the learners to decide what is important and what the main ideas are. The learners could summarise the text in five sentences, for example, or they could summarise the text using Who? What? Why? Where? When? and How? Questions that they create. They could even draw a simple mind map.
3) Create questions and quiz one another
If the learners have been reading alone now put them in pairs and let create different kinds of questions to ask one another.
a) Straightforward questions. These are the kind that are easily and answered from the text.
b) Thinking questions. Do you some questions with the answers have to be searched for.
c) Feeling questions. Questions where the learners relate what is in the text to their own lives. For example: How would you have felt if …?
4) Create a board game
If you feel that your learners can do this you could get them to create a board game in pairs. Give them a template of a snakes and ladders board and let them colour in certain blocks where a question could be asked. They colour in the block and write the question on a card with the corresponding number to the block on the board. They create rules for the game. The players could go forward two blocks if they answer correctly. They could go back one block if incorrect.
5) Create a role-play
If the texts are fiction texts or texts that lend themselves to acting out important points, then learners could work in small groups to create a short role-play of the main events.
6) Write a different ending
If the learners are reading a fiction text, they could even resolve the conflict by providing an alternative ending to the story.
7) Create puzzles from the text
You could photocopy the text and cut it up into paragraphs. Let the learners put the reading together in pairs or groups. Alternatively, photocopy the text and remove the topic sentences. Provide these separately and let the learners add them in the correct places.
Activities like these encourage communication and boost literacy skills in reading lessons. Reading could become the favourite lesson of the day! E-classroom has many interesting comprehension texts for each grade that you could download for your learners to work with. Visit www.e-classroom.co.za.
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