Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 463, Chapter 7: Comprehension

Comprehension Strategies

  • Calling up and connecting relevant prior knowledge
  • Predicting, questioning, and wondering about what will be learned and what will happen
  • Visualizing or imagining what the experience would look, feel, sound, taste, and smell like
  • Monitoring comprehension and using fix-up strategies such as rereading, pictures, and asking for help when you cannot make sense of what you read
  • Determining conclusions and making inferences based on what was read
  • Evaluating and making judgements about what you think: Did you like it? Did you agree? Was it funny? Could it really happen?

The goal is for your students to use them not just during the lessons, but to become automatic at thinking strategically whenever and wherever they are reading.

The different ways in which various reading materials are organized are referred to as text structures and genres. Students may have a harder time comprehending informational texts as they don’t get as much exposure to them and the way the information is organized.

A teacher can model comprehension strategies to students by using:

  1. I do, you watch (Teacher models)
  2. I do, you help (Teacher models and invited suggestions from students)
  3. You do it together, I help (Students apply strategies in small groups with teacher support as needed)
  4. You do, I watch (Students apply strategies independently, teacher observes and assesses)


A way of modeling the thinking that goes on inside your head as you read. Explain to students that we have a voice in our heads that helps make sense of what we are reading and then model what this might look like while reading a text. Try to use the comprehension strategies listed above as you do this.

Comprehending Narrative Texts

  • Story Maps: Includes main characters, the setting, the problem, events, the solution, and the story theme or moral. Students will start with figuring out who the main characters are, where the story takes place, and the problem for the main characters. They will then think of events that lead up to the solution for the problem. They can then think of the story’s theme or the moral of the story. what did the story teach us. The teacher can start by modeling this with the students and slowly move to the students working on it independently.
  • The Beach Ball: Used to help students develop the ability to understand and retell stories. Write questions on the sections of the beach ball to work on these things. Students will gently toss the ball to another student by saying their name before they throw it. The student who catches it will answer the question that is facing them. The questions can include:
    • Who are the main characters?
    • What is the setting?
    • What happened at the beginning?
    • What happened in the middle?
    • How did it end?
    • What was your favorite part?
  • Compare/Contrast Bubbles: This may also be known as a Venn diagram. The students could compare/contrast things from one story like the characters or they could compare/contrast two different stories.

Classroom Application

I love the last three activities that I listed, especially the beach ball activity. This makes the activity different and more interactive than just asking the students the questions, it should also cause them to be more engaged. I also like the think-aloud activity to model the comprehension strategies for the students. Modeling is so important so students can get a visual example of what they should be doing when they are reading.

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