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Reading reflection can boost reading comprehension.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Mar 30, 2012 1:43:00 PM

Marygrove MAT discussed reflection and how it boosts reading comprehensionLet’s suppose you have a 4th grade student named Robert in your classroom. He's an exceptional reader; both in interest and volume. He loves to read and always chooses a book, at home or at school, when he has available free time. Robert will read across genres and consistently reads above his assessed level. Yet in reading conferences with Robert, you discover he's missing something.  

He is by far at the top of his class when it comes to his reading ability and interest, but at times he demonstrates a lack of understanding, and sketchy comprehension.  It appears, through anecdotal notes, discussion, and assessment, that his fundamental metacognitive skills, those skills that allow a student to be aware of his own knowledge and understanding, need some work. What do you do next?

This scenario would require that you evaluate the amount of reading reflection students are engaged in your classroom. We’re sure you’ll discover that if an avid reader like Robert has trouble grasping an understanding of text, then the entire class would surely benefit from some reflective reading teaching strategies, too.

Reading reflection is an important skill to boost students' metacognition, or understanding and can take various forms in elementary reading instruction. Here are a few effective strategies, that you can use in your classrooms now:

  1. Reading reflection journals. This journal, cumulative and maintained over time, is a place for students to record what they've read and their thoughts about each text.  It can be tightly directed or students may maintain a broader amount of freedom with their reflections.  Either way, teachers should introduce and model different reflection options, including character analysis, text similarities, story elements, author's craft, and new information learned.  Since it serves as both a record of the books read, and the student's responses, it transforms into a record of thinking and new ideas that can be returned to at any time. 

  2. Reflection questions. Specific reflection questions provided by the teacher can be used independently or within a reading reflection journal. A teacher can create and assign questions to the entire class that connect to specific comprehension strategies or can differentiate questions for individual students based on readiness or learning style. If the reflection questions are used within a reflection journal, the teacher can use the previous entries as an assessment of a student's needs, and will then be able to tailor questions to address those needs.

  3. Oral reflection. When teachers have students participate in an oral reading reflection they encourage students to discuss texts with others in an effort to boost both their reflection and comprehension.  Either in pairs or small groups, these oral reflection sessions can incorporate specific questions, or teachers can give students the freedom to self-reflect. The skills and strategies for oral reflection should be taught and practiced over time to ensure that the students are able to effectively participate within a group.

  4. Exit cards. As students participate in more reading reflection practices it is important for teachers to have viable ways of assessing their abilities. Reading conference records, analysis of reflection journals, and formal assessments are all excellent ways to assess. But using exit cards is an assessment tool that teachers can use instantly to transform their teaching.  At the end of an independent reading session the teacher can ask students to reflect on a specific question, using a simple blank index card, and turn it in as their "exit" from the session. The teacher can then use the reflection exit cards to evaluate the metacognition of each student, and decide who would benefit from additional structure or differentiated questions in their reflections.  

We hope you had a productive month of reading! If you would like to integrate even more comprehension strategies into your planning, download our Best Practices Guide on Reading Comprehension, today!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: reading comprehension, download, reading comprehension strategy, Reflection

Three More Reading Strategies for New K-6 Teachers, Part II.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Sep 27, 2011 10:35:00 AM

classroom reading strategiesAs a continuation of our discussion on Reading Strategies for new teachers, here are three more ways to prepare students for reading success. No matter what grade level or subject area you teach, we can’t emphasize enough that students must have a strong reading foundation–which includes a variety of comprehension strategies– to serve them well in middle and high school, and onward to higher education. These strategies are great for the new teacher, as well as the seasoned pro.

1) Assessment: It is important to assess students in their general reading abilities on a regular basis.  Even if you do not see your students for the subject of reading, consider using the assessment strategies as outlined in the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Literacy Skills (DIBELS) one to three-minute assessment tests created by Ruth A. Kaminski, Ph.D. and Roland H. Good, Ph.D. of the Dynamic Measurement Group. Their work on DIBELS is based on previous work on Curriculum-Based Measurement conducted by Dr. Stan Deno and a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota, which began in the 1970s, and continues today. You can gain free access at

Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) offers Reading 510, a dynamic, case study-based course which will take Elementary and Secondary teachers through the process of learning how to use these screening instruments effectively, and what to do with the results.This distinctive course, tailored to meet the State of Michigan Reading Requirement for Professional Teaching Certificates, will provide teachers from every state with crucial information to help identify the problems of struggling readers and offer possible solutions.

2) Collaboration: Talk with your fellow teachers on a regular basis to share ideas about teaching reading.  They may be able to provide new material that covers any number of specific topics, including comprehension strategies.  If you are struggling to find strategies that pertain specifically to your unique content area, consult the Internet.  Many teachers post their ideas on discussion boards, forums, and lesson-submitting sites. Check the right-hand column of our Marygrove MAT website for content-specific information.

3) Reflection: It is important to reflect on your curriculum, specific lessons, and students' progress on a regular basis. If you don't find yourself doing this naturally, remind yourself to do it by scheduling time for it. You’ll be glad you did, and before long it will become second-nature. MAT Academic Director Diane Brown sets an alarm on her cell phone to ensure her daily reflection time. “I have an alarm that goes off every day at 2:05,” she says. “This is my ‘get your act together, you have three hours left in the day’ alarm…it started as an accident, but has proved to be incredibly valuable in getting me to fit everything in the day.”

For more ways to boost your students’ reading comprehension levels, download our Free K-6 Reading Comprehension Best Practices Guide.

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B


Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading across disciplines, comprehension strategies, Collaboration, Reading, Assessment, Reflection, Reading 510

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