10 Reading Comprehension Tips and Strategies

Reading comprehension is thought to be a process that is interactive and adaptable for each reader. Reading comprehension is a process that is learned over time. Here are ten (10) tips and strategies that teachers can share with learners to improve their comprehension of a text. These are strategies for all learners. If the learners have dyslexia or other special learning requirements, they may need additional strategies.

1. Generate Questions

A good strategy to teach each reader is that instead of just rushing through a passage or chapter, pause and generate questions. These can either be questions regarding what has just happened or what they predict might happen in the future. This can help them concentrate on the main ideas and expand their engagement with the content.

After reading, learners can go back and write questions included in a quiz or test on the content. By asking questions in this way, learners can help the educator correct misconceptions. This method also provides immediate feedback.

2. Read Aloud and Monitor

While some might think of an educator reading aloud in a secondary class as a foundational practice, there is evidence that reading aloud helps middle and high school learners. Reading aloud allows teachers to model good reading behavior.

Reading aloud to learners should also consist of stops to check for understanding. Teachers can show their think-aloud and focus intentionally on the meaning “within the text,” “about the text,” and “beyond the text.” These interactive elements can push learners for deeper thought. Discussions after reading aloud can help learners make critical connections.

3. Promote Cooperative Talk

Having learners stop periodically to turn and discuss what has just been read can reveal any issues with understanding. Listening to learners can inform instruction and help an educator reinforce instruction.

This strategy can be used after a read-aloud when each learner has a shared experience listening to a text.

This cooperative learning, where learners learn reading strategies reciprocally, is one of the most powerful teaching tools.

4. Attention to Text Structure

A good strategy that becomes second nature is to have struggling learners read through each of the headings and subheadings in any chapter they have been assigned. This info can help them understand what they will be learning as they read.

The attention given to text structure can be used in reading literary works that utilize a story structure. Learners can utilize the elements in a story’s structure to help them recall story details.

5. Annotate Texts

Learners should read with paper and pencil in hand. They can write down questions. They can create a vocabulary list of each of the highlighted words in the chapter and any unfamiliar terms they need to define. Taking notes is also helpful in preparing learners for later discussions.

Annotations in a text is another way to record understanding.

Using sticky notes can let learners record info from a text without damaging the text. Sticky notes can also be removed later for responses to a text.

6. Use Context Clues

Learners need to utilize the hints that an author provides in a text. Learners may need to look at context clues, that is, a word directly before or after a word they may not know.

Context clues may be:

Roots and affixes: the origin of the word.

Contrast: recognizing how a word is compared or contrasted with another word in the same sentence.

Logic: reading the rest of the sentence to understand an unknown word.

Definition: utilizing a provided explanation that follows the word.

Example or Illustration: a literal or visual representation of the word.

Grammar: identifying how the word functions in a sentence to understand its meaning better.

7. Use Graphic Organizers

Some learners identify that graphic organizers like webs and concept maps can greatly enhance reading comprehension. These let learners identify areas of focus and main ideas in a reading. By filling in this info, learners can deepen their understanding of the author’s meaning.

By the time learners are in grades 7-12,  teachers should let learners decide which graphic organizer would help them understand a text. Giving learners the chance to generate representations of the content is part of the reading comprehension process.

8. Practice PQ4R

Consists of 6 steps: Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite, and Review.

Preview: Learners scan the content to get an overview. The question means that learners should ask themselves questions as they read.

The 4 R’s have learners read the content, reflect on what has just been read, recite the significant points to help them learn better, and then return to the content and see if they can answer the questions asked previously.

This strategy works well when used with notes and annotations and is comparable to the SQ3R strategy.

9. Summarizing

While they read, learners should be encouraged to stop  reading periodically and summarize what they have just read. In creating a summary, learners must integrate the essential ideas and generalize from the text info. They need to distill the basic ideas from the unimportant or irrelevant elements.

10. Monitor Understanding

Some learners prefer to annotate, while others are comfortable summarizing, but each learner must learn how to be aware of how they read. They need to know how fluently and accurately they are reading a text, but they also need to know how they can determine their understanding of the contents.

Learners should decide which strategies help make meaning and practice them, adjusting the strategies when necessary.

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