I get quite a few questions about how to teach kids to read – a very common question is “What reading strategies list should I use as I teach my students to read?”
My response is usually something like this: Let’s think about how, in any field, if we want to get really good at something, we copy the masters or the greats in the field. The masters/greats have figured it out and it behooves us to copy and steal a bit from them!
There is lots of confusion about which during reading strategies or before reading strategies are used, what they’re called, how often kids should use them and what it will look like when they’re using them perfectly.
Well. I’m here to tell you this – reading strategies are designed to help facilitate comprehension. End of article. End of series. End of conversation!
So, as we teach them to kids, we want to make sure that we’re not obsessing over the perfect use or memorizing the definition of each strategy (which, by the way, I see too much of). Instead, we should be focusing on HOW THE STRATEGIES FACILITATE COMPREHENSION AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE TEXT!
Say I’m using a strategy like “monitoring comprehension”, for example. That might look like this: I’m reading through a new text and I realize that a new character is popping up and I don’t know who the character is and maybe I missed something. And so I recognize that I don’t know who this character is, so I better go back and look through the text and find where the character’s name cropped up for the first time and reread that section so that I can go back to my point of confusion and continue to read – and understand!
Using a reading strategies list is not a science – it’s part science and part art! And we need to look at what good readers do and how they use strategies and teach reading strategies in the same way to our students!
Here is a good, solid list for you to reference as you teach and then model, model, model and model even more how good readers use strategies during reading to make sense of the text:
- Making connections
- Making inferences
- Synthesizing information
So, where do you start? Start by figuring out where in the text the strategies above might come into good use – and apply the teach, model, practice, apply model to teaching that strategy. Start small and do it right and watch comprehension soar!