Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Teaching Comprehension

Teaching reading and comprehension strategies is like my most favorite time of the day. I get so excited and feel like such a geek when I talk about comprehension with my kids or other teachers... I just think it is incredible how readers access so many skills and strategies and, when they become experts, they don't even know they are doing it! Seriously. I love to read and when I notice myself making connections or inferring something... even realizing I am not comprehending and knowing to go back and re-read... ahhhh! It just makes me so happy!!!!!!

This is why CAFE is a natural fit in my classroom. Not only do I get to explicitly teach comprehension skills, but I get to model like crazy while reading awesome books to my kiddos and, because we post our strategies on the CAFE menu, we see them all the time and they just become part of our reading vocabulary. There is nothing better in the world than eavesdropping on kids when they are discussing books with a partner and hearing comprehension in action!

Anyway, back to the point of this whole post, during summer school I am teaching about connections, visualizing, and predicting. I only have three weeks, so I can't get as crazy about them as I would like but we've done some great activities and gotten to read a lot of great books. BUT... one thing my students are not doing is accessing their prior knowledge. We have talked about prior knowledge, I modeled like crazy, but they just aren't really using theirs... or, if they are, it is for very surface level things.

SO... I created this graphic organizer below. I haven't used it yet and won't be at summer school for the next two days (going to a conference on data... not only am I a comprehension geek, but I love data too! And don't even get me started on reading data!) so we will be using it on Monday. I have gathered a variety of picture books that have a setting/plot that revolve around a particular location. I am going to ask my students to choose one of them and write down all prior knowledge they have of that location, categorized by their senses. I am hopeful that this will get them thinking about all of the ways we can think about something... and help them draw thoughtful conclusions, make meaningful connections, and be able to truly visualize what an author is saying!

So, enjoy this comprehension artifact! And, if you are a reading comprehension geek too... give me a holler in my comments! Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets giddy about it!


  1. Just wanted to let you know that i'm excited you started a blog! I've used some of your resources from your website. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful resources!

  2. So excited that you are blogging now! I am a fan of your website!

    I am a comprehension geek too! I get so excited when I am teaching comprehension and feel like some times I am just gushing at other teachers.

    I love the graphic organizer. My students too don't always use their background knowledge before reading a story. I can't wait to be able to use it, thanks!

  3. I am fellow school nerd. I love reading comprehension, data, ...and the list goes on!
    Have you read When Readers Struggle by Fountas and Pinnell? It's full of great information (but think textbook size). I have read pieces here and there as I needed it but I would love to discuss with a fellow nerd :)

  4. I too follow you and have used your resources from your website!! LOVE YA! LOVE YA! LOVE YA! I really like this chart. I do something similar but do it as a class. This is great to use independently and in small group. It also could be something to give for homework. I normally have a reading log but sometimes I really wonder if they are doing it. The last half of the year I started giving story maps and I really got to see improvement on what they were writing. So i might be using his as homework.

  5. Nope. You are not alone. I'm pretty geeky myself. I'm very excited to find someone who is a) teaching summer school and b) using CAFE. I am thrilled when I see my kids actually USING what I am teaching them!!

  6. Great activity for getting students to comprehend a story better!


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