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Effective Strategies for Teaching Reading Comprehension in the Middle Grades

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Christina Campbell

on 30 October 2013

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Transcript of Effective Strategies for Teaching Reading Comprehension in the Middle Grades

Effective Strategies for
Teaching Reading Comprehension
in the Middle Grades

It's "OWL" about reading!
"The more we frontload students' knowledge of
a text and help them become actively involved in
constructing meaning prior to reading, the more
engaged they are likely to be as they read the text."

~Kylene Beers
(Beers, 2003, pg. 101)
"I never used to worry about comprehending until I
finished the story and came to that page of questions
titled 'Comprehension Check'. I thought that's when I
was supposed to think about it. Now I know that you
have to think as you read it. If you wait until
you're done, you've waited too late."

a student named Ben
(Beers, 2003, pg. 137)
"Ann was right: just closing a book doesn't close off the
thinking that shapes our understanding of a text.
After-reading activities typically measure how much a
student has comprehended a text. In that context,
comprehension is a product."

~Kylene Beers
(Beers, 2003, pg. 139)
Presented by: Christina Campbell
"Book Pass" Pre-Reading Strategy
"Say Something" During-Reading Strategy
What is Book Pass?
When and Why Would I Use the Book Pass strategy?
A Book Pass is an activity designed to provide students with the opportunity to briefly examine a significant number of books. Books in the Book Pass can be collected to include diverse titles and genres or for a specific purpose, such as new, high-interest titles, books connected to a concept or theme, or books that highlight a genre. (Allen, 2004)
If you want your students to examine several titles all related to an event, theme, or time period, a Book Pass is an effective way to view several different texts all addressing a common focus. For example, if you were beginning a unit on war in your social studies class, you would collect books related to this topic, including poetry, nonfiction, photojournalism, novels, diaries, and primary sources. (Allen, 2004)
How Does Book Pass Work?
Book Passess can be done in small groups or with the entire class. If done with the entire class, give each student a book and a Book Pass Form.

1. Ask students to note the title and author of the book and then "sample" the book. Readers might look at the first pages or skip through the book, examining illustrations, chapter titles, or graphics.
2. In the comment column, students highlight something they have learned about the topic or a question related to the theme or topic that arose from looking at this book.
3. After two to four minutes, say, "Book Pass."
4. Students then pass along their books to the person sitting next to them and repeat the process with the new book received.

~The teacher sets the time limit on the number of books students examine.
~After completing the Book Pass, students can chart the comments and questions as background knowledge and inquiry for the new unit you are about to begin. (Allen, 2004)
Now, try using the Book Pass Strategy by surveying the following texts that are aligned to a unit entitled "Courageous

Characters" (Core, 2011).

Use the Book Pass strategy form located to the right for recording information (title, author, and comments) while you survey the following text:
1. Fire from the Rock (Sharon M. Draper)
2. Under the Blood-Red Sun (Graham Salisbury)
3. SOS Titanic (Eve Bunting)
4. Counting on Grace (Elizabeth Winthrop)

After all books have been surveyed, discuss your comments with members from your group. (Remember: this strategy can also work as a whole group activity by simply providing each student with a book and a Book Pass strategy form. (Allen, 2004)
Putting the Strategy to Work
Say Something (Harste, Short, and Burke, 1988) is a very simple strategy that interrupts a student's reading of a text, giving them a chance to think about what they are reading. Students get into groups of two or three and take turns reading a portion of a text aloud. As they read, they occasionally pause to "say something" about what was read. (Beers, 2003, pg. 105)
What is Say Something?
When and Why Would I Use the
Say Something Strategy?
Often struggling readers struggle because while they read, their eyes move over the words but their minds move to thoughts of weekend plans, last night's phone conversations, or after-school sports events. They don't focus on what they are reading, confusing page turning with comprehending. To help students break that habit, the Say Something Strategy can be used to help students attend to what they are reading while they are reading. (Beers, 2003, pg. 105)
How Does Say Something Work?
1. With your partner, decide who will say something first.

2. When you say something, do one or more of the following:
~make a prediction
~ask a question
~clarify something you had misunderstood
~make a comment
~make a connection

3. If you can't do one of those five things, then you need to reread. (Beers, 2003, pg. 107)
Putting the Strategy to Work
1. First model the strategy.
2. Explain the procedure to students.
3. The partner's job is to offer a response to what was said.
4. Provide "say something" stem starters to help students with their comments.
5. Allow students to practice first with short texts.
6. Model the strategy often for students.
(Beers, 2003, pg. 106-107)
Semantic differential scales place opposite character traits (strong/weak, optimistic/pessimistic) at opposite ends of a scale, then ask students to decide how much of the trait a character possesses. These scales focus on character development and can be used to track character changes through a story. (Beers, 2003, pg. 141)
What is the Semantic Differential Scale?
Semantic Differential Scales
(After-Reading Strategy)
When and Why Would I Use
Semantic Differential Scales?
How does the Semantic Differential Scale Work?
Putting the Semantic Differential Scale to Work?
Semantic scales can be used to help students shape their thoughts regarding character development by rating a character both at the beginning and at the end of the story. Semantic scales encourage students not only to think about but also to engage in discussions on what they've read. In addition, as students discuss the reasons for their choices, they draw conclusions, make inferences, use the text as support, and make connections to their own lives. (Beers, 2003, pg. 141-143)
1. First, model using the scale for students.
2. Read something together with your students.
3. After reading, complete a scale, making sure to explain how you (the teacher) arrived at your opinion.
4. Explain your opinion by citing evidence from the text, from personal experience, or from outside knowledge.
5, Now, have students to complete their own scale by repeating these steps.
(Beers, 2003, pg. 143)
After reading the short story "Thank You Ma'am"
by Langston Hughes,
evaluate characters Roger and Mrs. Louella Bates by using the semantic differential scale located to the right.

(Beers, 2003, pg. 141)
Allen, J. (2004). Tools for teaching content literacy. Stenhouse Pub.

Beers, K. (2003). When kids can't read what teachers can do. Portsmouth: Heinemann.

Core, C. (2011). Common core curriculum maps in english language arts, grades 6-8. Jossey-Bass.
Now click on the link below to share some of your thoughts regarding the significance of teaching reading strategies to today's students. Also, if you have additional strategies that you use with your own students or would recommend for teaching, feel free to share them on the wall wisher that I've created.

A visual anthology of additional strategies that can be used before, during, and after reading
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