It was so great to meet and speak with many parents at Conferences last week! During our short time together, many parents asked how they can help improve their child's comprehension. One of the simplest, yet effective, activities a family can do to strengthen reading comprehension is to simply talk about the book. That's it. Try asking specific questions like, "what is the problem in the book?" and "is there anyone in the book that reminds you of someone we know?" and perhaps the most powerful question, "what do you think will happen next?" Even if family members have never read the book, a conversation can still be shared. Discussing why things are happening in the book, and predicting what's to come will go a long way in a student's understanding of what he/she is reading. Don't forget to revisit the conversation a few days later and talk about the outcomes of your predictions. Did the author surprise you with a twist ending? Were you reading the clues right all along? Having meaningful Book Talks gives students a new purpose when reading and will only help boost comprehension.
Antonyms are words that have opposite meanings. Sometimes, when we are reading a new word, or trying to find the precise word for our writing, knowing the opposite meaning can help with our understanding. Students should think about the opposite meanings of words to help with comprehension.
Synonyms are words that have the same meaning. The trick is finding the most precise word to use in your writing. Pick the word that can most specifically describe the scene to the reader. Yes, the video below is from Sesame Street. It's an oldie, but a goodie!
Writers need to use complete sentences because that is how readers understand the meaning of the text.
This is more difficult than it sounds. Our brain does not always play nice with our hands and fingers. What happens is, the writer has a thought, often complete in his/her mind, but when the writer puts pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, the mind is onto the next thought before the hand has had a chance to get it down. So, the writer is left with an incomplete sentence, or what we in English Language Arts like to call, a fragment. To add to the difficult situation, when the writer re-reads his/her writing, the brain will sometimes automatically fill in the missing part of the sentence and trick the writer into thinking it is a complete thought. The writer may never notice that the sentence is unclear. So, what's a writer to do? First, the writer needs to remember that all sentences have a subject (who or what the sentence is about) and a predicate (what the subject did or does). The writer may need some help with making sure all the sentences are complete with a subject and predicate, and for that the writer needs to find another person to read the text. Reading out loud often helps. The reader can point out anything unclear to the writer for revision. When no other reader is around, the writer should take a brief break. Maybe go get a drink of water. Then, come back to the text, and at a slow, yet comfortable pace read the piece out loud. If something doesn't sound right, it probably isn't. This will give the writer an opportunity to fix any fragment sentences.
"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass," Anton Chekov
Adjectives and adverbs are the descriptive buddies to nouns and verbs. They are the words that help paint a vivid picture in the reader's mind. It is the writer's responsibility to provide the reader with these words. Often times, the hardest part of this task is choosing the most precise words for the situation. Students should get in the habit of using a Thesaurus to help with this endeavor. Instead of using everyday words like good or said, think about the idea you are trying to write about and choose a more precise word. Are you describing Thanksgiving dinner as good? Maybe delicious would be a better choice. Did the character say the thief was guilty? Or did he accuse the thief of stealing? This will take some practice, but if done each time writing takes place, will soon become like second-nature.
This is my 14th year teaching. I love Social Studies, Reading and Writing! Tell me something you love and I will give you 5 Parker Pride Tickets!