Encourage Cooperative Learning with Jigsaw
The jigsaw is a collaborative strategy that provides students with an opportunity to actively help each other build comprehension. Aside from developing a deeper understanding of the text, the jigsaw strategy provides students with an opportunity to work cooperatively and strengthen their communication skills. In order to implement the jigsaw strategy in your classroom, you must first select a text or topic that can be divided into four or five selections. Next, you will split your students into four or five home groups. Each group member will be responsible for reading one of the text selections and teaching the materials to the other home group members. After establishing the home groups, students break off into their expert groups to read and analyze the assigned text selection. In order to effectively master the material, require students to record their findings in some way. Completing a graphic organizer, summarizing the text, and/or answering text-based questions will all work well. When the expert groups have completed their analysis of the text, it is time for students to return to their home groups to present the information from their text selection. Depending on the levels of ability in your classroom, a graphic organizer may be useful for the this portion of the strategy as well. After all group members have relayed their information to the home group, an assessment can be used to evaluate understanding. The jigsaw strategy works particularly well as an anticipatory activity. It is a great way for students to think critically about a topic before direct instruction begins.
Improve Comprehension with Mind Mapping
According to research, creating visual representations of concepts and ideas can help students organize and remember what they learn. Mind mapping requires students to complete a diagram or graphic organizer in order to visualize what they are reading and make connections between ideas. Mind maps can be as highly structured as an in-depth graphic organizer, or as loosely based as doodle notes. The learning objective will help to determine the appropriate mind map to utilize for each lesson.
Stimulate Structured Discussion with Reciprocal Teaching
Reciprocal teaching encourages students to think critically about a text using four different reading comprehension strategies. Implementing reciprocal teaching in your classroom will provide students with valuable skills that they can apply when reading independently. It is important to select and read the text together as a class before starting the reciprocal teaching process. After reading the text, students are ready to break into groups of four. Providing groups with a graphic organizer to record their work will establish structure and keep students on-task. When students are in their groups, assign each student a role: questioner, clarifier, summarizer, and predictor. The first part of the strategy requires students to work independently. The questioner formulates two questions about the text. The clarifier finds two unknown words or ideas in the text. The summarizer sketches a picture to represent the main idea of the text. Finally, the predictor is responsible for predicting what might happen if the text were to continue. The second part of the strategy begins the collaborative process. Each group member delivers his or her information and the other group members record it on their own paper. Groups will start with the questioner box. The questioner will read the two questions he/she came up with for part one. The rest of the group will record the questions. Next, the group will work together to answer the questions. After completing the questioner box, groups move on to the clarifier portion. The clarifier states the two unknown words or ideas he/she came up with to complete part one of the strategy. The rest of the group records those words or ideas on their own paper. The group then works together to define or explain the unknown words/ideas. A dictionary may be provided to groups having a hard time defining words using context. Third, the summarizer shows the group the picture he/she drew to represent the main idea of the text. The rest of the group draws a similar picture on their paper. Working together, the group composes a two to three sentence summary of the text. Last, the predictor reveals his or her prediction if the text were to continue. The group members record the prediction on their own papers. Then the group works together to find clues or evidence in the text that support the prediction. Groups are finished when all four reading comprehension strategies have been discussed and completed. Click here to download the free Reciprocal Teaching Guided Worksheet for students.
Cultivate Meaningful Conversations with Think-Pair-Share
The Think-Pair-Share strategy is designed to give students time and structure to formulate and share ideas. It promotes participation by encouraging thoughtful response. This strategy, if done correctly, can be extremely effective in building higher-order critical thinking skills. Before implementing Think-Pair-Share with your students, describe the strategy and provide guidelines for discussion. Explain to students that they will think critically about a topic, discuss the topic or question with a partner, and share ideas with the rest of the class. Formulating questions from the text that foster higher-order thinking is important for the strategy to be successful. After posing the question(s), monitor and support students as they work through each step of the process.
Develop Concise Summary Writing with GIST
GIST (Generating Interactions between Schemata and Text) is a strategy for establishing comprehension of a text. It encourages students to write concise meaningful summaries, and it works well with all levels of readers. Teaching students summarizing techniques will help them learn to effectively synthesize information. The goal of a GIST summary is for students to be able to convey the “GIST” of what they read without the extraneous details. Using GIST, students develop the necessary skills to independently identify the main ideas and key details in a text. Begin the GIST strategy by having students read a short piece of text. After reading, instruct students to answer who, what, when, where, why, and how questions based on the text selection. Next, have students condense their answers into a one-sentence summary. It is important to support students in writing GIST summaries until they can do them independently.
The goal in implementing reading comprehension strategies is for students to transfer those skills and apply them when reading independently. Focusing on a small group of strategies throughout the school year will give students a chance to really hone their skills.