Thursday, October 27, 2011

Comprehension Strategies

The above is a "skill card" sent home as part of the "reading bag program." I'm supposed to practice these with Younger Daughter every night as her "home reading coach."

The scan is a bit hard to read: here's what it says:

Before Reading

Tell the title of a favorite book and some specific details about the book.

Preview the story by creating a story from reading the title, looking at the cover and reading the pictures.

Connect events during picture reading with words like "and then ... next ... or after that ..."

During Reading


Read in short phrases most of the time.

Recall what you know about the topic.

Ask yourself questions as you read.

Make connections as you read.

Think about the reason why things happen.

Picture what is happening (visualize).

Try to understand the characters' feelings.

Think about similar experiences and stories as you read.

After Reading

Start at the beginning and tell what happened. Include most of the important events from the beginning, middle and end in sequence.

Refer to most characters by name in retell.

Is this fiction or nonfiction, and how do you know?

What part of the book did you like best and why?

What connections did you make while reading (personal experience, background knowledge or another book)?

Keep in mind that we're supposed to accomplish all this within 10-15 minutes per night of reading! The "Before Reading" instructions alone could easily take up 15 minutes, time that would be better spent actually reading (or actually teaching reading, as is the case with us and Younger Daughter.)

The "Before Reading" skills are exactly what Younger Daughter should not do. She already faked her way up to level E in the leveled readers at Natural Friends; the more she learns to make up stories based on the pictures, the better she will get at guessing and faking, and the harder it will be for her to learn to actually read.

As for the "During Reading" and "After Reading" activities, what a turnoff. No wonder we're raising a generation of kids who hate books. Kids don't need to be instructed in how to appreciate a story; story-telling (and story-listening) is a universal human experience. Read to your kids, find books your kids will enjoy reading, and get out of their face.


  1. So. It sounds like the teacher somehow wants to help, wants to give you something to do (lots of parents want direction, even if it's wrong for their family!) and bla bla bla. I say you tell YD that you will think of this as YOUR creative writing assignment. Then make a bunch of really interesting stuff up. I don't know that these sheets are ever really checked for content anyway... just completion. If the teacher reads it at least she will be entertained. It has to be boring, reading all these papers. :)

  2. Happy Elf Mom, there's no required writing with this, thank God. We're just supposed to discuss this stuff at home.

  3. PsychMom says:

    This is grade 2, right?
    "Make connections as you read" What does that even mean, especially to a 7-8 year old?

    And my favourite: "Try to understand the characters' feelings" This stuff is so far beyond this age groups' ability to process, it's not even funny. They might as well ask "How does this book relate to what you had for breakfast this morning?" It makes as much sense.

    And second graders have so much personal experience with which to make comparisons.

    This stuff makes me crazy, I'm sure you can tell.

  4. Yep, it's second grade. Yep, it's ridiculous and inappropriate.

  5. It's very appropriate for learning how to actually read, but then your a mom that doesn't really no jack about teaching or children for that matter.

  6. Oh, I don't know, I could at least teach my children the difference between "your" and "you're".

  7. For that matter, I could teach them the difference between "no" and "know".

  8. Wow! It looks like your younger daughter's teacher passed along a bunch of teacher jargon. The idea of a "home reading coach" is great. However, giving you a large list of strategies can be overwhelming. Perhaps, you'll consider focusing on one strategy from each area when your child reads. As a teacher, I know that I am guilty of using too much teacher talk. Hopefully, you can address this issue with your child's teacher. I personally am grateful for your post.

  9. Anonymous, I'm grateful that you're grateful!

    Honestly, I'm not interested in using any of these strategies. Younger Daughter is a struggling reader and just getting her to figure out the words on the page is enough of a challenge for her.

    If she was a better reader, I'd just let her read. I think that Mom asking her whether it's fiction or nonfiction, and how she knows, is a turn-off. It takes the act of reading away from the child and turns it into something owned by Mom.