Comprehension (Focused teaching 9-12)

Reading comprehension is influenced by what a reader knows about a text and the reading strategies they apply to build on this knowledge.

These focused teaching strategies can be used to support a student’s development within this area of knowledge. The strategies are presented in a developmental sequence to systematically teach aspects of comprehension.

This teaching and learning sequence can be applied to a range of text types at the student’s independent reading level. This allows the focus of the teaching to be on the student’s comprehension of the text rather than their word reading skills.

Deciding the likely topic of a text

This sequence of activities assists students to decide the likely topic of a text and develop a reading plan. The activities are presented in the following developmental order:

Forming an initial impression of the text

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise forming an initial impression of the topic of the text.

  1. Present the student with a text and ask them to give their initial impression of the text. Ask the student what type of text it is, what the text is about and why the author might have written it.
  2. If the student requires additional support direct them to specific features of the text such as the title, images, contents or glossary. Ask the student to tell you how these features help them to predict what the text might be about. Ask them to form a mental image of their response and describe it to you. You may then record key ideas and words included in their response so you can read it back to them.
  3. Ask the student to tell you how these features help them to predict what the text might be about. Ask them to form a mental image of their response and describe it to you. You may then record key ideas and words included in their response so you can read it back to them.

Predicting plausible ideas and events in the text

These activities can be repeated to allow students to practise predicting ideas and events in the text.

Activity 1

  1. Provide the student with a list of key words from the text, presented on flash cards. For example: wetsuit, snorkel, underwater, boy, equipment, surface.
  2. Read the words to the student pointing to each word as you read it. Ask the student to read the words back to you.
  3. Model to the student how you would use the key words from the text to visualise the likely ideas and events presented in the text. For example, say:
    When I heard this list of words from the text I tried to fit them into a set of pictures in my mind.I used these pictures to predict what the text was about. For example,I think the text is about a boy who goes snorkelling for the first time. Perhaps it takes him some time to get used to using the equipment and practise breathing through the snorkel. I think the boy enjoys snorkelling.
  4. Introduce a series of key words from another text and present the words to the student on flash cards. For example: cyclist, race, mountain, time, bike and winner. Read the words to the student, pointing to each flash card as you read it. Ask the student to read the words back to you. Ask the student to make a picture in their mind that contains all of the words presented and predict the ideas and events in the text.
  5. Provide the student with a list of key words from the text presented on flash cards. Ask the student to put the words into categories such as characters, idea, setting and events.
  6. Ask the student to use these words to predict what might be presented in the text.
eduSTAR logo

Comic Life (available on eduSTAR) allows teachers and student to create annotated visual sequences.

Activity 2

Provide the student with a list of key words from the text presented on flashcards. Ask the student to put the words into categories such as characters, idea, setting and events. Ask the student to use these words to predict what might be presented in the text.

SEN Teacher – Resource ID QZCP8K
SEN Teacher is available through FUSE and includes a range of teacher resources that can be selected and adapted including templates for creating flashcards and word building activities.

Reading and comprehending sentences

Describing the actions students will use as they read

  1. This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise describing the actions they will use as they read to comprehend sentences.
    • Discuss with the student the actions or strategies that they might use when they read the text. For example, discuss the following actions:
    • After I read a sentence I will say it in my own words making sure it still has the same meaning.
    • As I read each sentence or paragraph I will try to make a picture in my mind of what the words say.
    • I will think about the meaning of words in the text and try to think of other words that have the same meaning.
    • I will stop at the end of each paragraph and say: What do I know now? What has this told me?
  2. As the student reads through the text and after they have read it, guide them to review these actions and discuss how they have used them.

Visualising and paraphrasing to comprehend sentences

These activities can be repeated to allow students to practise visualising and paraphrasing to comprehend sentences.

Visualising

  1. Read a sentence from the text, visualise it and describe your image to the student.
  2. Ask the student to visualise the same sentence and describe their image to you. Record their response and read it back to them. Then ask the student to read their response independently.
  3. Review the steps used with the student:
    • We read a sentence
    • We made a picture of it in our mind
    • We described our image
    • We recorded our description and read it back
  4. Ask the student to repeat this process using different sentences in the text. When the student can visualise and describe sentences, repeat the process using paragraphs from the text.

Paraphrasing

  1. Model for the student a process for paraphrasing:
    • Read a sentence
    • Change as many words as you can while keeping the same meaning
    • Say the sentence again in your own words.
  2. Ask the student to follow this process using the same sentence in the text.
  3. Repeat this process for different sentences.
  4. When the student can paraphrase sentences, repeat the process using paragraphs from the text.

Comic Life (available on eduSTAR) allows teachers and student to create annotated visual sequences.

Working out meanings of unfamiliar words in the text

Comprehending vocabulary in the text

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise comprehending vocabulary in the text.

  1. Ask the student to locate unfamiliar words within the text.
  2. Discuss the meaning of the words with the student and ask them to suggest synonyms for these words.
  3. Ask the student to create meaningful sentences using the unfamiliar words.
  4. Review the unfamiliar words again in the text and discuss why they might have been used in the context of the sentence or paragraph.
eduSTAR logo

FreeMind (available on eduSTAR) can be used creates visual word maps. For example ask students to identify and record key words from a text and suggest synonyms.

Working out the meaning of the text by inferring, questioning and summarising

Summarising part of the text after reading it

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise summarising part of the text after reading it.

  1. Read a paragraph from the text to the student and follow the procedure below:
    • Discuss the main idea in the paragraph and identify the topic sentence.
    • Ask the student to select the key words in the paragraph.
    • Talk about the main ideas presented in the paragraph and ask the student to summarise these ideas.
  2. Ask the student to repeat this process using different paragraphs in the text.

Linking meaning across sentences and paragraphs

Predicting plausible ideas and events in the text from what students have read so far

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise predicting ideas and events in the text from what students have read so far.

  1. Read a paragraph from the text and follow the procedure below:
    • Ask the student to think ahead and predict what might happen in the next paragraph. The student’s responses can be recorded and referred back to.
    • Read the next paragraph aloud to the student and ask them to summarise the main ideas and events.
    • Ask the student to discuss how similar or different their earlier predictions were.

Reviewing, consolidating and responding to the text

These activities are presented in the following sequential developmental order.

Consolidating and reviewing the text

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise consolidating and reviewing the text.

  1. Ask the student to identify what they have learnt from reading the text. Identify questions they can now answer about the text.
  2. Write a summary of the knowledge the student has gained and create a semantic map that shows the ideas they have learnt and the links between them.

Providing an emotional response to the text

This activity can be repeated to allow students to practise providing an emotional response to the text.

  1. Ask the student to provide an emotional response to the text. Include questions such as:
    • What did and didn’t you like about the text?
    • How did you feel as you were reading the text and why?
    • How would you like to change the text so that it was more useful or interesting?
    • How do you think the author wanted us to think or feel about the text?
    • Would you recommend the text to your friends? Tell me what you’d say to them.