Currently, I’m spending a lot of time working on reading comprehension with one of my fourth graders. She spends a lot of time in the reading resource room and she struggles with vocabulary and using an “expressive” voice as she reads. All of these issues are negatively affecting her ability to comprehend what she is reading. Often, she will have to read, out loud, a story two or more times in order to tell me what it is about. After talking with my CT about this, we decided that in order to help her comprehension, first, we need to address her fluency. If she can pay less attention to the words, sentences, etc. we hope that she will be able to pay more attention to the content. I think that being able to read expressively without and “choppiness” will be extremely beneficial in the long run. When you can read a story with expression, then you have to understand what is going on. For instance, if you read in a monotone then you miss the exciting, sad, or scary parts of a story; but if you pay attention to those aspects and your voice reflects that, then you will have a much better chance at developing your comprehension.
I like to use the process of “predicting” to help students will comprehension too. I feel that it really forces students to pay attention to what they are reading, seeing, hearing, etc. About half-way through a story, I will stop the student and ask them “What do you think is about to happen? Why?” this forces the students to think about what they’ve read and apply it. They also have to explain themselves and their thought process which is a really high-level metacognitive skill that can promote comprehension too.
According to the National Reading Panel (NRP) “comprehension is an active process that requires an intentional and thoughtful interaction between the reader and the text”. That being said, it is important that we ask students questions during and after reading that forces them to think about what they read and apply it. This interaction between themselves and the text will be greatly beneficial.