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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!