These days, teaching reading is the job of ALL teachers regardless of the subject area or grade level. The fact is if you want your students to do well they MUST be able to comprehend the material they are reading. . . whether it is in science class, social studies, or even math. Teaching reading is no longer just the job of the language arts teacher.
However, if you really want to improve reading comprehension you're going to need a couple of “tricks" up your sleeve.
One “trick" teachers can use to improve reading comprehension is by using a strategy know as purpose setting.
Purpose setting is just as it sounds. . . the teacher helps the students set a purpose for the reading. Setting a purpose for reading impacts what students will remember and positively effects comprehension.
One way teachers can improve reading comprehension through purpose setting is by giving students different roles/perspectives before reading and then have them write down important points from the reading based on those roles.
It's fun to see the different bits of information the students pick up on based on their role.
Here is an example of how to use purpose setting in content area reading. . .
1. Pick a reading passage for the content you want to cover. It can be from the textbook, a novel, a primary source etc.
2. Place students in groups of 4 or 5 and assign each student a different role depending on the content. For example, a reading passage on the Civil War can include roles such as a Union soldier, Confederate soldier, a mother, father, daughter, slave, plantation owner, politician etc.
3. Make sure students do not tell each other their role.
4. Read the passage aloud to your students or have them read silently to themselves.
5. During the reading have students write a list of important points based on their role.
6. Finally, have students share their lists and try to guess each other's role.
Watch and see how much the students retain from the reading. Once you do, it is easy to see how purpose setting can greatly improve reading comprehension.
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