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Sparking Comprehension


                 “To learn to read is to light a fire, every syllable that is spelled is a spark.”   – Victor Hugo

There is such a poetic beauty to Hugo’s words and I so wish to fan those flames in my young readers. This is my goal during guided reading – to help ignite that fire. I call each strategically selected small group and we gather with books in hands, developing decoding skills readied, and smiles on our faces prepared for the challenges ahead. Those kindergartners come to group eagerly and anxiously geared up to match words to print. But – I want them to know reading is so much more. “Children cannot move forward as readers until they fully comprehend what they read.” Amen, to Dr. Jan Richardson!

next step          Leigh Ann and Ella

In Richardson’s book, The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading, she shares a “treasure trove of comprehension resources” and shows us how to use them. Here are her top 12 comprehension strategies to build understanding for our developing readers.

1.  Comprehension Monitoring – Becoming aware when meaning breaks down in reading.

2.  Retelling – Learning to recall information in nonfiction and retelling the story elements in fiction texts.

3.  Developing Vocabulary – Connecting with literary language and building understanding of words and phrases.

4.  Asking and Answering Questions – Asking and answering questions based on the details in a text.

5.  Identifying Main Idea and Details – Zeroing in on these key elements.

6.  Analyzing Characters – Identifying and exploring characters and their traits.

7.  Analyzing Relationships – Understanding the relationships between people, events, and ideas in the story.

8.  Inferring – Making inferences drawing on background knowledge and info in the text.

9.  Summarizing – Giving a summary that covers main story elements.

10.  Evaluating – Understanding the author’s purpose and opinions, making connections, and forming evaluations.

11.  Using Text Features – Building understanding through features such as tables, headings, pictures, and captions.

12.  Understanding Text Structure – Seeing how the author organizes the information in the story.

The intentional teaching of these targeted skills during guided reading is the key to building the comprehension of our growing readers. Comprehension is the ability to accurately understand what is read and this is so much more than simply calling out the words on a page. It is the hook – the spark that makes readers grow and want more. I read somewhere that comprehension is the conversation between the reader and the text. I want my developing readers to have some meaningful conversations!

Would you like to learn more about these essential tools for building deeper understanding? Check out ERG’s upcoming professional development opportunity.


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