In my previous post, I discussed using pictures as a comprehension strategy using Eagle Eye. As I mentioned, the more advanced kids become at reading, the fewer pictures their books will have.
So, it’s important to teach other self-monitoring reading comprehension strategies. I’ll share some easy lesson activities you can do to model and teach kids how to make sure they are reading accurately while understanding the text!
READ & DRAW
In this exercise, you will ask students to read a sentence or paragraph, depending on their ability, then draw a picture to show comprehension. Ideally, you want a text that is very descriptive to give them enough to draw without giving it all away, in order to avoid them drawing from knowledge. For example, this one is a bit easy and they don’t have to read the entire text to make a pretty accurate drawing:
I was at the beach. I saw sand and the ocean.
They likely know what a beach looks like and will draw it from background knowledge, including sand and the ocean. However, a text like this requires them to decode accurately and comprehend:
The sand was hot on my feet. I picked up a shell and tossed it in the water.
They have to infer the setting and the picture requires them to understand what they read.
Of course, with kindergartners you want to use very easy text- something like
I have a red cup.
You can make your own text or find an excerpt in a big book. Just cover the picture and reveal after they have drawn their pictures. If you only have a small book, you can take a picture of the page to display on your whiteboard for all kids to see. You can also use large Scholastic News magazines if you have them. Read here for other ways I use Scholastic News magazines in the classroom.
Visualize: Listen & Draw
Similar to Read & Draw above, but you will be reading the text. This isn’t a SELF-monitoring activity since they aren’t reading the text, but it’s still great practice with visualizing, an essential comprehension strategy. When they learn to visualize, it’s easier for them to realize when the text isn’t making sense.
For this activity, find a descriptive excerpt from a book. Ask students to close their eyes and picture what you are reading. Then, have them draw a picture while you read it again. You can reread it as many times as they ask since that’s what you want them to do if they aren’t comprehending text when they are reading.
After students are done with their pictures, have them share with each other, discussing why they drew the elements they did. It’s interesting to see their different perspectives! Discuss that although their pictures may look different from one another’s, they have common elements from the text. This can also be a lesson on adding details, as well as evaluating how well an author described a setting or event.
MODEL SILLY ERRORS
This is one kids love! You’re going to tell them that you’ve been forgetting to check your comprehension and your reading has been sounding very silly. Ask them to please let you know when your reading isn’t making sense so that you can reread and fix your error!
As you’re reading a big book, purposely make a very silly mistake. For example, if you’re reading The 3 Little Pigs and the text says, “So the first little pig built his house out of straw,” read it as, “So the first little pig built his horse out of straw.”
Here’s another example:
After kids giggle, ask them which word didn’t make sense. Model rereading and decoding more carefully.
FIND THE CORRECT SENTENCE
This activity really ensures that your students are paying close attention to each letter when they’re reading, helping to eliminate guessing or overlooking parts of words. Write 3-4 sentences that are the same, except for one word. Students have to decode carefully in order to find the correct sentence.
When your students are self-monitoring their reading comprehension, this will not only improve comprehension but also their decoding. If they realize the text doesn’t make sense, they’ll have to go back and use decoding strategies, looking carefully at each word.
Remind them to constantly do comprehension check-ins. They should ask themselves questions to make sure they are understanding: Does this make sense? Does this match what’s happening in the story/text so far? Why did this happen? What will happen next?
For more on Comprehension Skills and Strategies, you may be interested in these posts: