Comprehension Toolkit: Instructional Strategies

Earlier this summer, I wrote about presenting on the Comprehension Toolkit at my district's Back to School Language Arts Inservice Day.  The Comprehension Toolkit is amazing.  And awesome. And fabulous.  And seriously overwhelming.  I love it, but Good Grief!  It's a lot to take in and then squeeze into 70 minutes.  It comes in a box, y'all.  Hard to cover a box worth of stuff in 70 minutes.

Anyway, whether you're ready to take on the elephant of the Comprehension Toolkit or not, they're are some amazing teaching strategies that the book uses.  Some I was more familiar with than others.  If you're curious about using the Comprehension Toolkit, try some of these lesson elements first.  You'll be amazed at what you see, and it'll help you visualize the toolkit lessons when you read them. 

Think Aloud
·This is the one we're probably most familiar with!

·"When we model how we read ourselves, we share our struggles as well as our successes, peeling back the layers of our thinking  and showing kids how we approach text and how understanding happens."

Thinking aloud is one way to make the reading process "conctrete"

Think aloud tips:
·share inferences
·model the connections we make when we read
·share the questions we have when reading
·verbalize confusing points (monitor ongoing comprehension)
demonstrate fix-up strategies

Text Coding:
·share inferences
·model the connections we make when we read
·share the questions we have when reading
·verbalize confusing points (monitor ongoing comprehension)
demonstrate fix-up strategies

R = it reminds me of
t-s = text to self
t-t = text to text
t-w = text to world
L = new learning
BK = background knowledge
G = gist
(there should be a lightbulb here but Blogger refuses to acknowledge it)=
new learning
E = evidence
? = question

Text Lifting for Shared Reading:
·Instructional practice to help students become aware of their thinking and increase comprehension
·When you take (lift) a piece of text, give everyone a copy,  and practice a strategy together

Text Lifting Model
·Gather students near projector
·Show a piece of text, hand out a copy to each student (student has clipboard)
·Model thinking as you read
·Invite kids to share their thinking
·Encourage discussion among kids
·Turn and talk
·Kids continue in pairs/small groups
·Teacher moves around room, checking in with groups to assess

Anchor Charts
Use anchor charts to record kids' thinking about a text, lessor, or strategy so that we can return to it to remember the process.

·Strategy Charts: Record kids' questions, inferences, connections, etc.
·Process Charts: Kids share their insights about particular strategies, appraising their helpfulness as a comprehension aid.  "Yes, this strategy was helpful because . . . ," "No, this strategy was not helpful because . . . "
·Content Charts: Record interesting/important content-based information that kids discover during a content area study.

Interactive Read Alouds
·In an interactive read aloud, the teacher reads the text and guides the discussion while the students listen, talk to each other, and jot down their thinking.
·Can be strategy-specific or overall inner coversation

All kids are free to listen and think about the ideas in the text because decoding does not interfere

Interactive Read Aloud Model
·Modeling: build background knowledge, share inner conversation, stop and record thinking
·Guided Practice: Have kids turn and talk about their own t hinking, jot down inner thinking
·Continue Modeling/guided practice alternation
·Guided Discussion: After finishing text, kids move into groups and talk using their post its to feed discussion

Taking thinking public: After discussion, come back together as a group and share ideas from discussions.  Record these thoughts on an anchor chart.

Purposeful Talk Model
Conversation deepens understanding. 
In an active literacy program, we increase the amount of time that kids spend talking to each other to increase understanding of :
·important issues

Types of Purposeful Talk
·Turn and talk
·small invitational groups
·paired reading
·small and large group shares

**Teach kids HOW to share!  "Since discussion is the learning heartbeat of our classrooms, we make a point of emphasizing and demonstrating polite ways of talking with each other.

Guided Discussion
·If we want kids to think deeply about their reading, we have to provide text they can sink their teeth into and then give them opportunities to talk about it. 
·Guide kids' comments to focus on central questions, important ideas, and issues raised in their reading.  Whenever possible, build on and extend th ekids' thinking to move the discussion along.

·Provides a place for students to record their own responses and opinions.
·This type of notetaking on graphic organizers helps readers understand and remember what they read (FQRs, Facts/Inferences, What I Learned/What I Wonder)

What they do:
·Promote enganed, active reading
·Help students sort out information
·Value student thinking
·provide a better opportunity for lasting learning
replace mindless note-taking practices with a more thoughtful practice that gives students a good shot at understanding the information.

Whew!  That's a lot and it's not even what the Comprehension Toolkit is.  I am loving the fact that the toolkit is a great resource for the giant canyon between "teaching" kids a strategy and them actually being able to use it.  Anybody else loving on the Comprehension Toolkit?

I started a Pinterest board the toolkit here:

I made it a collaborative board and invited some other teachers in my district to join me.  If you'd like to join in, e-mail me the address you use for Pinterest, and I'll add you on.  The more the merrier!

And do not forget this business:
I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

Click on the the giveaway button to enter to win something fun from May Books!


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1 comment

  1. The Comprehension Tool Kit is wonderful, but I am glad to know that I am not the only one who feel overwhelmed with it. It is a work in progress for me.

    Teaching Fourth


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