I have been wanting to blog about teaching comprehension to young students for a while now, but it is such a big topic I didn’t know where to begin! I have decided to break up the huge area of comprehension into several different posts. Today I am explaining how I use question and answer worksheets to help develop comprehension skills.
This year I have found myself constantly reinforcing how important comprehension is to my Grade Two students. With NAPLAN testing looming next year for my students, I am trying to prepare them in the best possible way to confidently tackle a variety of tasks. In my classroom we discuss why good comprehension skills are important and how the students can improve their comprehension development.
I focus heavily on comprehension during my whole class reading introductions and of course, during Guided Reading sessions but last term I explicitly taught a few stand-alone sessions. I found this to be very helpful as I could spend the time going through the process to gain full comprehension of a text. I sometimes make my own activity sheets but I recommend Super Teacher Worksheets for a variety of comprehension question and answer tasks from Grade levels 2 – 5.
Early on in the year I used the following process for teaching comprehension using worksheets:
* I read the text to the students, discussing any unfamilar vocabulary along the way.
* I would then read each question and explicitly demonstrate that all of the answers were located in the text by highlighting the key passages or words which would help me answer each question.
* I showed the students how to write in full sentences to answer the questions.
* I reinforce the importance of using the text to find the answers, not just writing what you think. Even if the text is about a subject the students know a lot about (eg. dinosaurs), they must remember to always look in the text to locate answers rather than write from their own knowledge.
* I explained that any questions beginning with “what do you think” are opinion questions, not fact questions. The answer won’t actually be within the text, but you can use the information to support your opinion.
Now that the students are working more independently, I read the text but I no longer go through the questions in detail. I am pleased that my students automatically reach for a highlighter when it comes time for them to begin answering questions. I am hoping this strategy will prepare my students for NAPLAN, and consequently improve their overall comprehension skills which is the main aim.
How do you use question and answer worksheets to improve comprehension?
Do you have any other good websites that provide comprehension activities for students?