2nd-grade-girl-reading-comprehensionReading comprehension is vital in all subjects and is the ability to completely understand the text being read by processing the information and then being able to recall that information accurately.

Having good reading comprehension is a skill that will stick with your students for the rest of their lives and if you nurture it now, they will not only become stronger readers and writers, they will be able to learn new concepts more easily down the road.

It is amazing how reading comprehension transcends language arts classes and is necessary in understanding other subjects such as social studies, science and even math.

There are 5 strategies that we have outlined below to use in developing reading comprehension in the classroom and some fun project ideas that will get your students excited about reading and writing.

Strategy #1 Making Connections

Teaching 2nd grade reading comprehension can be tricky because your students likely have just started reading and writing independently. One of the best ways to encourage reading comprehension and get your students to fully understand what they have read is to have them make connections to their own experiences or relate their reading to something they have previously learned. This is one of the easiest strategies to implement in the classroom.

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After your students finish reading something, have them complete one or more of the sentences below in their journals or on a piece of notebook paper that they can keep in a Language Arts folder.

  • This reminds me of a time when I…
  • I know about this topic because I…
  • The setting of this book is just like…
  • This book is something like…
  • What’s going on in this book is just like what’s happening in…

Although this is an assignment, it will help them start to realize how important it is to make connections while reading. If they keep at it, they will naturally develop a habit of mentally making connections as they read.

 

PROJECT IDEA

Have your students think about a book that they are currently reading - this could be a class assigned book or one they choose. After the book or a specific section of the book is finished, have them think about the important events that happened in the story and write those down. Then have them write down the similar events they have seen, learned about or experienced first hand. They can then create venn diagrams comparing the similarities and differences between the two situations. After they complete their Venn diagrams, have them write out how the two situations compare and contrast. They can then draw two pictures side by side of the situation from the book and the situation they compared that to. You can take all of their work and use it to make a reading comprehension connections classbook!

 

Strategy #2: Asking Questions

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Encourage your students to ask questions about the text as they read. These questions could be about words they don’t understand, what they are feeling as they read or what they are supposed to take away from this piece of writing.

When your students ask questions before or while they are reading, they are tapping into prior knowledge and making predictions. Asking questions starts to create a mental dialogue promoting comprehension. After reading, critical analysis kicks in and your student may even want to conduct further research on the topic.

To get your students used to asking questions while they read, you can have them use small sticky notes with questions marks and place them next to the paragraphs or words they do not understand.

 

PROJECT IDEA

This project works well with  a book that you are reading as a class. Have your students write words down that they do not know from the text on note cards then go back and reread the sentences surrounding the text to see if they can figure out what the word means. Have them write down what they think the definition is under the word on the card. Then have your them go look it up the actual definition and write that on the back of the card. Use these note cards to make a special glossary for the book. Have your students write the word, what they thought it meant and what the dictionary definition on a classbook page and draw a picture of what the word means. Then publish their work in a word-tastic classbook that will remind them of how important it is to always ask questions while they read.

 

Strategy #3: Visualization

Many people are visual learners, but kids, in particular, respond well to visual aids and drawings. Creating fun illustrations and being able to visualize what was read can sometimes help them digest the writing better.

You can provide visual aids to go along with the reading via slideshows or short informative videos, but having your students take a hands-on approach will likely be more effective.

Have your students begin reading and pause after they find parts of the text that contain descriptive information and draw the picture that they see. Then have them think about the words from the text that brought that image to mind. They can repeat this process over and over throughout the entire book or story to help visualize the setting and see how the setting affects the story.

 

PROJECT IDEA

Have each of your students write a short descriptive story. You can choose one of these creative writing prompts or have them brainstorm and come up with their own story. Then, have them outline and write their short descriptive story and use editing techniques to create a final draft. After their story is complete, have them share it with a partner and have their partner create a movie storyboard using visualization. Then, take the storyboards and the writing and combine them into a fun classbook. Make sure to have each student sign their work and after you can have a publishing party!

 

Strategy #4: Determine Text Importance

Determining text importance is crucial in developing strong reading comprehension and 2nd grade is the perfect time to introduce this to your students.

They will eventually be able to determine text importance on their own without prompting, but some guidance is useful since they are fairly new to reading.

To help your students determine text importance have them:

  • Distinguish between what’s essential versus what’s interesting
  • Find the difference between fact and opinion
  • Look at cause and effect relationships
  • Compare and contrast ideas or information
  • Find themes, opinions or perspectives
  • Pinpoint problems and solutions
  • Name steps in a process
  • Locate information that answers specific questions
  • Summarize what they read

Now, not every one of the bullet points above will be utilized for every piece of text that they read, but many of them can be used together to give a better understanding of the writing. For example, let’s say they are reading a book about dinosaurs. They can distinguish between what’s essential versus what is interesting, locate information that answers specific questions and summarize what they read. If they are reading a fairy tale, they can look at cause and effect relationships, find themes, opinions or perspectives and pinpoint problems and solutions.

 

PROJECT IDEA

Have your students use a book they are currently reading and take notes determining text importance. For this project, it is best that the book is fiction but non-fiction will also work. Have your students use small post-it notes to mark areas in the book where they believe the text is extremely important to the story, record themes that they find, pinpoint problems and solutions, etc. After they have marked up the book, have them imagine that they have been transported into the story and rewrite the most important parts as if they were there watching everything happen. Have them add an illustration of themselves in the important parts of the story. You can then take their work and publish it into a classbook that they and their families can use to remember this unique time in their academic lives.

 

Strategy #5: Synthesize

Synthesizing goes hand in hand with many of the strategies above, but it takes things a step further by having students learn important lessons and grow as people from the text they read.

The idea is that your students will combine new information with existing knowledge to form original ideas, new lines of thinking or new opinions.

A great way to introduce your students to synthesizing is by having them read fables. Fables are fairly easy for newer readers to digest and, by definition, always have a lesson to be learned at the end.

Have your students use graphic organizers to show relationships between concepts while reading and for writing their own stories. We suggest having this take the form of a volcano or using the worksheet in the project idea below. To create their volcano graphic organizer you can have them:

First-thoughts-and-what-I-think-is-going-to-happen

 

  1. Write what they thought after reading the first few pages at the base of the volcano. This is a good place for them to also make initial predictions about where they think the story is going.
  2. After they read about half of the book, have them fill out the middle of the volcano with what they think about the information they have collected so far. They can also put how they think the story is changing.
  3. Once the story is finished they will write in the top of the volcano what they think the story is really trying to teach them and what they took away from the story.

 

PROJECT IDEA

Choose a book to read as a class and have your students become detectives to try and “find clues” as they read to determine what the main idea of the book will be. They can use this worksheet to record when they think they have found a clue that will lead them to the main idea. After everyone has filled out their worksheets and have some thoughts of what they think the main idea is, discuss these thoughts as a class and model how you found the main idea of the story. After your discussion, they can look back at the book and see if they missed anything and then write about how they “solved their mystery” and what they learned from the experience. Have them add an illustration of each “clue” they found in the text and draw arrows to the main idea. You can then take their work and put everything into a cool classbook that will remind them to look for clues as they read to better understand the text!

 

Final Thoughts

Without reading comprehension, reading, finding and conveying information, important skills to become a successful student and adult, would be impossible. That is why it is necessary that your students nurture and develop this skill early on. If they do not, they run the risk of falling behind their peers and struggling with all subjects. Use the information and project ideas above to help promote reading comprehension in your classroom and you will start to see solid improvements in your students’ ability to comprehend text and more complex ideas in no time.


For other free teaching resources—including more worksheets, lesson plans and topic ideas and writing prompts—head over to our online teacher’s lounge, and order your free classbook publishing kit today!