Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Reading Instruction!


Instructional time is precious to all of us! It seems there is always something infringing on my time. One day it is a special program in the gym, the next it's a fire drill. Then there are the daily time eaters to contend with. So, it's imperitive that every minute of teaching time be used to the fullest. That's especially true with reading instruction. It doesn't matter if it's a whole class lesson, or one to a small group, instruction needs to follow solid research on what really works. What does work? Below are seven teaching habits that have been shown, by research to increase reading comprehension. I know we all use most of them, but take a look and see if there's one or two you could add into your instruction. They really do make every minute count!

1.  Monitoring comprehension 

As kids read they need to be able to "catch" themselves when meaning is lost. They need to know when they don't understand what is going on, figure out what they don't understand and use strategies to fix the problem. Teachers can use story maps, summarizing activities and think-alouds as part of their instruction to help with monitoring comprehension. 

2. Metacognition

This just means that students learn how to think about their thinking. Questions teachers use before, during and after reading help to set a purpose, monitor understanding and check the student's understanding after reading. Keep a list of questions for both fiction and informational text in your lesson plan book or guided reading book to keep them handy. Metacognition is critical for successful reading comprehension and needs to be taught to most students.

If you would like questions for before, during and after reading informational texts, you can download a freebie on another post of mine at: Here Comes Guided Reading: Freebie

3. Use of Graphic Organizers

When students use a graphic organizer it forces them to dig into the text. They help kids make connections between concepts and how they are related, help students see the differences between fiction and nonfiction, and help them write good summaries. There are LOTS of free ones on the Internet. Here are a couple I like: Graphic Organizers from Edhelper   and Graphic Organizers from Education Place

4. Text Questions

Answering text questions gives kids a reason for reading, focuses their attention, helps them think as they read, helps them monitor their comprehension and review what they have learned. Teachers can use questions such as: right in the text questions. The answer is explicitly given in the text. "What color was the sky?"  Questions that are in the text, but require thought. "Why was Jack feeling sad?" Questions that require students to use prior knowledge, "How do you think Henry felt when he was lost his dog? What in your life helps you understand how he felt?"


5. Generating Questions

This one takes some very explicit instruction. Teaching students how to ask their own questions about the text involves teaching them how to make questions about the main idea, the plot, the theme and so on. By making up their own questions students not only realize if they can answer their own questions or not, but helps them understand if the really do understand what they are reading.

6. Story Structure

Research tells us that when students receive instruction in story structure, they improve comprehension. so keep instructing and reviewing  characters, setting, events, problem and solution.  Story maps helps with this.

7.  Summarizing 

A student who can summarize understands the text. It helps students decide what is really important in the story and put it in their own words. Only a reader who fully comprehends a story can do that. Summarizing helps students identify the main ideas, decide what is really important in the story, and remember what has been read.


There are a number of ways to teach these 7 habits:
Modeling for students
Direct instruction
Guided practice

Happy Teaching!!  If you have any other ideas please add them below!



Adapted from Reading Rockets: Seven Strategies to Teach Students Text Comprehension by C.T. Adler

Do you need a resource to help you teach guided reading? Check out:

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