Reading with comprehension that actually boosts student literacy

kids reading with comprehension
These reading with comprehension strategies will increase reading comprehension.

Have you ever wondered how your students can read every word of a book and not be able to tell you anything about it afterwards? It’s because your student may be reading but not comprehending. Reading with comprehension is essential to increasing the impact of learning in the classroom. I discovered concept-based instruction is the is the most effective way to ensure reading with comprehension.

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“What is concept-based instruction?”

You may be asking, “What is concept-based instruction?” It is when your curriculum is all connected together by a certain theme or main idea. Your vocabulary, reading, and writing are centered around your theme. My themes often come from our social studies and science units.

Concept-based instruction will provide your students with countless benefits. Here are just a few. Your students will: (Inspirational Teaching Using Limited Resources)

  • Have fun,
  • Be more actively involved,
  • Develop learning skills more quickly, as each one is connected to and reinforced by the other,
  • Be more confident and better motivated,
  • Present fewer discipline problems.

How concept-based instruction makes activities for morning meeting a snap

I start my activities for morning meeting with introducing our weekly theme and our vocabulary words for science or social studies, such as an ocean theme. I display these 7 ocean themed word wall cards and begin the unit by doing a pair sharing. Students turn and talk to each other about how all the words relate to one another, and then we discuss the theme as a group.

word wall kindergarten cards
These word wall cards include real photos and thematic vocabulary.

Next, I focus on one of the words like “whale” and we look at word features  such as long a sound with silent e. You could also look at the wh digraph.  This has been one of the best strategies when reading for my children because they learn daily phonics and how to break down parts of words. I use this as an introduction to reading skills and a way to reinforce content area literacy. My students see how to use these word features or phonics to sound out words in a very organic way. It has become something we do every day and they have a blast with it! I make sure that I make a really big deal about the “word of the day” and I call them my little word detectives or word scientists.

Why this is so important

According to Really Great Reading, one of the key elements in successful reading instruction identified in reading research is the role that phonics instruction plays in learning to read. The scientific consensus is that teaching phonics systematically, explicitly, and cumulatively is key to successful reading instruction.

With content area concepts, students are building on essential vocabulary daily throughout each week.  With this approach, your students are learning words, reading words, and writing those same words. Each morning, I introduce the new word and review the word from the day before, so by the end of the week, my students have learned all these words. I also have them use these words in writing. Look at how this vocabulary has improved their writing.

If you prefer digital, Boom cards are the perfect solution to review definitions and skills like syllables, phonics and finding the words in sentences as well as a writing activity.

I also encourage my students to use these reading strategies for comprehension when they read our books. My Level 1 learners match the image on the word wall cards to the image in the book in order to find their word of the day. My Level 2 learners look at the beginning sound, and my Level 3 learners start looking for phonics features like, blends, digraphs, etc.

I like putting the digital Boom reader on the Smartboard, so the kids see it in color while we read it together. My students can also read it on their tablets at school or practice it at home. The versatility helps me to reinforce this vocabulary in so many ways and the theme keeps my students focused. They love hearing the song which helps them remember the vocabulary! Read more about the benefits of music in the classroom.   

picture of ocean animals book
This ocean book with questions for comprehension have real photos that help students make better connections.

Content-based instruction makes centers so easy

I like to use content-based instruction in my reading groups because I can reinforce important science and social studies vocabulary while practicing phonics and reading skills. My students keep the little black and white books in a book basket that they can review. I also have them highlight the words on the sheet and illustrate it. They keep these sheets in a poetry/song notebook.

Boom cards are perfect for independent learning centers

The questions for comprehension are great for my students to use the text to find the answers. We have so many amazing discussions that I didn’t know were possible with 1st graders. The reading comprehension assessment I love to use is with the emergent reader Boom cards. They include questions for reading comprehension and I love that they are self-checking.

I set them up in my independent centers and my students adore them. There is a deck with phonics skills included as well as a writing component, so I can give my students more challenge or I can just give some students the deck that just has the story, song and questions. This has helped me so much with differentiation of instruction. There is audio on every slide, so every student can read entirely on their own. These reading with fluency strategies have made reading easier and more fun for my students.

5 key elements for reading with comprehension

The National Reading Panel (NRP) report in 2000 identified these five elements that are key to reading success:

  • Comprehension
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Phonics
  • Phonemic Awareness

Daily Concept Builders™ has helped increase these five elements when it comes to reading with comprehension in my classroom. My students also love the new themes that we learn each week. It has helped with discussions at home as well. Parents can ask questions about what my kids are learning each week because of thematic unit approach to teaching.

picture of talking to parents
Kids talking to parents about what they are learning is easy with these weekly themes.

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Enjoy that sunshine!

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