How to Get Early Readers Responding to Texts

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Once you’ve got your students in a guided reading routine, it's time to have them exploring what they’re reading and completing activities that develop their comprehension skills. This is no small feat when it comes to young readers because their writing skills are generally not developed yet which makes it difficult for them to express themselves independently. In order to set your students up to become comprehension experts, here are some tips and an overview of the order of progression that occurs. 

Step 1: Diverse Verbal Questioning

To begin their reading journey it is essential that students are asked LOTS of diverse questions. This is a great way to help readers develop a large repertoire of comprehension skills, particularly when they aren’t able to articulate their ideas in written form yet. It also gets them thinking about the text and gets them accustomed to responding to it which will be useful in later activities. When using verbal questioning, it is important that stuents are asked a variety of different questions. Questions should go beyond recall knowledge such as "Who is the main character?" and include higher order questions too such as "When have you felt the same way as the main character?" You want students to think critically and most importantly, you want them to connect to what they are reading.

Here are some question ideas:

Step 2: Drawing pictures

This step intertwines with verbal questioning, however, it allows students to respond to reading independently, without your guidance. So when you have moved on to guided reading with a different group of students, you can have your previous group draw a picture to answer a reading question that you have posed to them. This can be completed directly into their workbooks or into a booklet such as the one above. This little reading booklet is specifically designed for kindergarteners as well as those students who have not developed writing skills yet. It ensures that they are still able to connect with the texts they are reading in a valuable way. You can grab it here.

Step 3: Combine pictures and sentence writing

Once students are able to write, you can have them express their understanding through both pictures and short sentences. They often need quite a bit of scaffolding to begin with and may benefit from sentence starters to help them get going. These reading sheets are designed to support students as they begin their venture into responding to reading. All the pages include sentence starters to help your early readers begin formulating responses. The sheets can be stapled together to create a booklet that can be used all year round. You can grab them here.

The pages included are:

  • A Cute Cover
  • Making Predictions
  • Story Retell
  • Main Character
  • The Plot
  • The Best Part
  • The Characters
  • My Favorite Character
  • The Setting
  • The Beginning
  • The Problem
  • The Solution
  • I Would Have
  • Interesting Words
  • My Book Review
  • My Opinion
  • Making Connections
  • The Lesson
  • Invent a Character
  • About the Book

The diverse nature of classrooms means that you'll often be doing all three of these steps at the same time with different groups of students. If you'd like to check out the resources included in this post, you can see them below by clicking on the thumbs.

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