99 Ways to Improve Your Students’ Reading Comprehension

Something to think about…

I came across this list I had saved in my files, and I think it is a great reminder of what we need to do in the classroom to improve our students’ reading comprehension.  Every once in a while, I like to sit back and reflect.  Which items on this list are part of my daily practice, and which items do I need to start doing?  I usually pick a handful of items on which I wish to focus.  I thought I would share the list, so you can also read it over and reflect upon how your students read in your classroom.  I hope all of you enjoy your spring break and return to school reinvigorated and refreshed!

  1.  Have word walls; keep them fresh and attractive
  2. Give a preview of the reading material
  3. Call attention to chapter headings and sub-headings
  4. Call attention to end-of-chapter questions
  5. Ask for summaries (gateway skill)
  6. Pronounce new vocabulary
  7. Have students pronounce new vocabulary
  8. Practice skimming
  9. Practice scanning
  10. Practice close reading and re-reading
  11. Use sustained silent reading
  12. Read aloud
  13. Encourage making connections between self and text
  14.  Summon prior knowledge
  15. Use graphic organizers
  16. Encourage students to generate their own graphic organizers
  17. Teach word components
  18. Use annotations
  19. Encourage the habit of noticing text patterns
  20. Use supportive visuals on the Internet
  21. Have a “readable” room, with helpful words and visuals
  22. Use writing to support reading; reading to support writing
  23. Provide study guides
  24. Provide alternate readings and simplified versions to scaffold
  25. Encourage the creation of visuals (“draw what you’ve read”)
  26. Reinforce subject-to-subject connections in vocabulary
  27. Give students opportunities to talk about what they’ve read
  28. Provide various genres
  29. Encourage paraphrase
  30. Encourage integration of text with graphs, charts, tables
  31. Encourage reading in phrases and groups, not single words
  32. Read key parts first
  33. Encourage awareness of strategies
  34. Make students aware of personal reading needs
  35. Develop reading habits
  36. Ritualize the reading process
  37. Build awareness of trouble spots
  38. Teach how the text is organized
  39. Encourage self-monitoring for comprehension
  40. Make the abstract more concrete for students
  41. Encourage readers to anticipate
  42. Encourage note-taking on readings
  43. Set time in class to develop a weekly reading budget
  44. Hold students accountable for reading
  45. Give alternative assessments
  46. Teach that every sentence delivers new information or re-caps
  47. Provide large print and other more reader-friendly presentations
  48. Provide Internet resources to supply background information
  49. Give the necessary background information
  50. Teach vocabulary implicitly and explicitly
  51. Make connections between English and the Latin-based languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese)
  52. Encourage students to keep personal reading journals
  53. Teach that words have multiple meanings, but that their meanings are usually related
  54. Teach that not all text is to be read at the same pace
  55. Assign meaning-making activities following reading
  56. Encourage visualization (mental movies)
  57. Teach students to view reading from the writer’s perspective
  58. Teach students to group information into larger and larger groups
  59. Use the Golden Oldies: SQ3R and KWL
  60. Encourage outlining & Cornell Notes
  61. Build a classroom library consisting of multileveled, diverse reading materials to scaffold the textbook and provide background knowledge
  62. Use your classroom website as an online classroom library
  63. Join your professional organization and keep informed about literacy development & implementing the Common Core
  64. If you teach English, supplement fiction with non-fiction; if you teach a subject other than English, supplement informational text with literature
  65. Familiarize yourself with the reading that your students are doing in other subject areas so that you can make connections
  66. Provide multiple exposures to new vocabulary
  67. Capitalize on the relationship between reading, writing, listening, and speaking
  68. Understand that comprehension is the active process of extracting meaning from text, not just word-calling (decoding)
  69. Reveal your own thinking as a reader
  70. Encourage students to say “This reminds me of…” as they read
  71. Encourage students to look for repetition in text because repetition signals main ideas
  72. Encourage students to think of reading as a before, during, and after process
  73. Build on strengths—your own and that of your students
  74. Consider offering students choices in reading material
  75. Be enthusiastic about school-wide reading initiatives
  76. Set forth a purpose for reading (What am I looking for?)
  77. Increase, support, and value time-on-text in class
  78. Understand that reading comprehension is the result of the integration of prior knowledge with new knowledge offered in text
  79. Offer crossword puzzles or games that use subject area terminology
  80. Set up cooperative learning groups to work through challenging text
  81. Understand that sentence length affects readability
  82. Understand that pre-Twentieth Century language is probably very challenging for most students. Provide scaffolding.
  83. Understand that deficient readers tend to misread the middle of words, resulting in their thinking that words with similar beginnings and endings are the same.
  84. When introducing a new word, use it to teach a cluster of words that would be used along with it
  85. Teach the many different forms (morphology) a new word
  86. Use your library-media specialist as a resource to help you locate various versions of your targeted information
  87. Use your reading specialist and special education teachers to help you understand more about your text and your students’ reading strengths and needs
  88. Help students pinpoint the place in the text in which their comprehension broke down
  89. Understand that improvement in reading comprehension will result from a combination of practice, explicit instruction, and building of background knowledge
  90. Treat reading for what it is: a complex mental, metacognitive, and social activity
  91. Understand that improvement in reading comprehension results from instruction that is embedded in authentic reading tasks, rather than isolated drill and practice in text that is unrelated to what the student needs to know
  92. Understand that the language used in classrooms may differ markedly from a student’s home and street language
  93. Act on the fact that your students’ ability to comprehend text in your subject area is unlikely to improve without your intervention
  94.  If your course ends in a standardized test, familiarize your students with the appearance, structure, phraseology, and vocabulary of that test
  95. Help students connect pronouns to their referents, esp. it, that, which, they
  96. Define what you think may be new words as you speak
  97. Practice “gradual release of responsibility” to make students independent readers
  98. Build awareness that successful readers are problem-solvers who give themselves the environment and support systems that they need to make meaning from text: Reading comprehension results from intentional behaviors, not luck.
  99. Assume that success is possible!!



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