This post will show you a fun way to build reading comprehension in grades 3, 4, and 5!
When you think about teaching reading comprehension in the intermediate grades, what comes to mind?
Reading comprehension passages?
I’ve used all of the above when building reading comprehension, but today I’m sharing something simpler and, frankly, more fun.
Yes, picture books! You’ll be amazed at how a strong interactive read aloud can boost reading comprehension – even when you are the one doing the reading.
What is an interactive read aloud?
First let’s discuss what it is not. An interactive read aloud is not when you grab a book off the shelf to fill five minutes. While that’s certainly a good thing to do, an interactive read aloud is something you plan for.
An interactive read aloud is when you choose a book to read to your class and prepare thought-provoking discussion questions in advance. Many teachers like to jot these questions on sticky notes and mark the pages where they’ll pause to ask them.
How do interactive read alouds boost comprehension?
When you ask thought-provoking and open-ended questions, your students will engage in high-level thinking. With your help, they will have thoughtful discussions with you and their classmates.
How do you encourage participation?
I know, I know. An interactive read aloud sounds great in theory, but what if only a handle of kids are answering the questions? How can you make sure that everyone is actively involved?
Here are a few tips:
- Choose strong picture books that grab your students’ attention and provide opportunity for deep discussion . (I’ll be sharing a printable list in a few weeks!)
- Ask high level questions that encourage your students to think beyond the text.
- Assign a partner to each student. At different points, have them turn to each other to discuss the answer to a question. Then call the group to attention and ask one or more people to share what they and their partner discussed.
- Choose books that you love, and read them with with enthusiasm and expression.
What types of questions should you ask?
Questions that help children think more deeply about story elements:
- What is the problem in this story?
- How was the problem solved? What’s a different way the author could have chosen to solve the problem?
- Why is the setting important for this story?
- Do you think the characters are believable? Why or why not?
- Who do you think is the most/least important character in the story? Why do you think so?
- What would you say is the highest point of the story?
Quesitons that encourage children to use reading comprehension strategies:
- How is this like something that has happened in your own life? (making connections)
- What does this remind you of? (making connections)
- Does story remind you of another book you know? (making connections)
- What do you think will happen next? (predicting)
- What clues did the author use to help you predict the ending? (inferring)
- What does the word ____ mean? Why do you think so? (inferring)
- What is the story really about? (synthesizing)
Prompts that encourage students to give more thorough answers:
- What makes you think that?
- What part of the story led you to that conclusion?
- Be more specific.
- What else does that make you think of?
How do you teach students to have good discussions?
That’s an important question – so important that I’ll be devoting an entire post to it! In fact, this happens to be the first of a 5-part series about building comprehension in grades 3-5. Stay tuned!
Wait! How will I think of strong questions?
You’ll get better at this with practice. But I’ve got a list to get you started! Use the download button below at the end of this post to grab a free list of high-level questions that you can use when planning your interactive read alouds.
Check out the rest of the series below!