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I have several reluctant readers in my class. And when I say reluctant, I mean pulling-teeth-digging-in-heels-won’t-read-unless-they-are-required-to reluctant readers. And even then it’s still difficult for them. They understand the importance of reading for information and meaning, but more often than not comprehension is lost in translation due to several of them struggling with dyslexia.
So how do I help them understand what they have just read in their ability-based group without them glazing over?
I utilize reading journals with my groups.
Reluctant readers usually have a strong auditory capability, meaning they usually understand what is being read TO them. Most challenged readers have had to compensate so long for their inability to understand what they are reading, that they grasp the ideas that are read to them because they are not having to decode and comprehend at the same time. Since we obviously take turns reading in our groups, I pulled this component out and started recording visuals for what each person has read.
If I am working with younger readers (second or third graders), I use a 12X18 piece of construction paper. I have the kids turn the paper horizontally and fold it into four columns. I then instruct them to trace over the folded lines with a ruler, making four vertical columns. I have them label the columns in order: ‘Who are the characters?” “Where are they?” “What is happening?” and “Predict what will happen.” We are discussing characters, setting, plot and drawing inferences in a visual method that they can refer back to without losing their place in the book. When a child has finished his turn reading we fill out the chart as a group. My reluctant readers can utilize this visual to refer to after they have finished reading to jog their memory of what was happening previously in the story. This helps them keep an ongoing dialogue of characters, setting and plot so they can see the flow of the story.
When I work with older readers (fourth grade and up) I utilize the same questions, but each reader has his or her own notebook and we record a chapter at a time. We still go over the story as a group when each reader finishes, but older readers can add more meaningful detail and they have more room to record their thoughts completely. As these readers read on their own, they can continue recording as they need to, so my reluctant readers are able to keep a very detailed journal which in turn helps them keep track of what they are reading no matter where they leave off.
At the end of a book all students are able to go back through the journals in order to write their summarization or book report over what they have just read.
What comprehension strategies do you use to help your reluctant readers?